The National League Divisional Series is upon us and there are many questions about what this matchup will look like. The Giants have the capability to turn things around quickly with hitting, but other variables still remain unknown. What should we expect?
12:30 a.m. Eastern Time
Alden Gonzalez is a character in the film Alden Gonzalez
- In 2016, he joined ESPN to cover the Los Angeles Rams.
- For MLB.com, he formerly covered the Angels.
Senior Writer for ESPN
- ESPN The Magazine’s Senior Writer
- ESPN.com’s columnist
- I’ve written five novels (3 NYT best-sellers)
The San Francisco Giants or the Los Angeles Dodgers: which is the superior team? If you’ve been following our MLB Power Rankings all season, you’ve watched them swing back and forth between the No. 1 and No. 2 positions in the league.
What’s the case for the Dodgers? They’re the reigning World Series winners and have a ton of superstars!
What about the Giants? They won the division by holding off L.A.
Whatever side you’re on, we’re going to find out the answer — at least in terms of 2021 — when the two National League West powerhouses meet in the NL Division Series after the Dodgers won a walk-off victory over the Cardinals on Wednesday night. As we prepare for a series in which the winner will be the favorite to win the pennant, ESPN baseball analysts Alden Gonzalez and Tim Keown break down what this matchup means and what each club has to do to win — as well as their predictions for who will win.
Is this the most epic NLDS game ever, with a 107-win club against a 106-win squad?
Gonzalez: To put it another way, I don’t see how there could be a better one. Start with the fact that this is one of baseball’s most storied rivalries, with two teams that had never met in the postseason before, and then consider how it all ended, with the Dodgers surging down the stretch, fighting fervently for their ninth consecutive division title, and the Giants refusing to give up. Despite going 43-13 after the start of August, the Dodgers only gained two games on the Giants. Wild.
Keown: This question is much too restrictive. This would be the most thrilling World Series matchup in the 162-game era just on the basis of record. Two teams have never combined for more than 105 victories in a single season — ever — a testimony to their abilities and the ineptitude of many others. With the divisional rivalry and close matches this season (10-9 Giants), the only issue with this series is that we won’t get to witness it across seven games.
Is this baseball’s greatest rivalry right now?
Play for free and compete for a chance to win $9,500 in prizes throughout the MLB playoffs! Make your selections
Keown: Without a doubt. The fact that these two clubs have been forced to play postseason baseball for almost half a season is incredible. How can you finish second after winning 106 games? How can you win 107 and get pushed to the last day of the tournament? One approach is to treat almost every game as if it were Game 7 — or, in the sad reality of our present debate, Game 5 — and learn what works and what doesn’t along the way. These two clubs have locked down the recipe, at least for this season.
It’s time for a prediction! Who do you have and why?
Gonzalez: I believe the series will be decided in Game 5’s 15th inning. And, given how this game has unfolded, I anticipate that any forecast made will seem stupid in retrospect.
Keown: Giants in five, mostly because betting against them this season has shown to be both stupid and unfulfilling, despite its popularity. They’ll triumph in every manner they can, and you’ll be laughing at your forecasts.