The Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals have each experienced success in the regular season in recent years, but they've fared completely different when October rolls around.
Joe Maddon's Cubs finally ended the 108-year curse in 2016 with a dramatic Game 7 win over the Cleveland Indians in the World Series. The Cubs suffered a bit of a hangover at the start of 2017, but they righted the ship and secured the National League Central title.
On the other hand, the Nationals haven't made it out of the NLDS in three attempts since 2012, with a 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers last year being their most recent heartbreak.
The best-of-five NLDS between the Cubs and Nationals will begin on Friday night at Nationals Park. Washington had the better regular-season record of the two teams at 97-65. The Cubs ended at 92-70.
|Cubs vs. Nationals Schedule|
|Game 1||Friday, October 7||Cubs at Nationals||7:30 p.m. ET||TBS|
|Game 2||Saturday, October 8||Cubs at Nationals||5:30 p.m. ET||TBS|
|Game 3||Monday, October 9||Nationals at Cubs||TBD||TBS|
|Game 4 (if necessary)||Tuesday, October 10||Nationals at Cubs||TBD||TBS|
|Game 5 (if necessary)||Thursday, October 12||Cubs at Nationals||TBD||TBS|
Getting off to a fast start is imperative for the Nationals, who fell into an 0-1 hole at the same stage last season against the Dodgers. Although they were able to bounce back in Game 2, the Nationals gave the Dodgers a nice boost of confidence in Game 1 and they used that to help them win the deciding Game 5 back in the nation's capital six days later.
The Nationals should use 2016's lack of success at home in the NLDS as motivation to start strong and put the Cubs in an uncomfortable position heading back to Wrigley Field on Monday. Winning on the road wasn't an issue last year in the playoffs, as the Nats took Game 3 at Dodger Stadium.
The Cubs produced an ideal start to the NLDS last season with two consecutive victories at home over the San Francisco Giants. A Game 4 win on the road sealed advancement to the NLCS. Joe Maddon's ballclub ended up winning six road games during their run to the World Series trophy in 2016. If the 2017 edition of the Cubs can produce the same results, a repeat might be in the cards.
In their two regular-season series meetings, the Nationals and Cubs were as close to even as you can get. The teams split a four-game series at Nationals Park from June 26-29, and the Nationals took two out of three against the Cubs at Wrigley Field from August 4-6. If those seven games are any indication of the postseason series, offense is expected to be seen at a decent volume. The winning team in each of those seven games scored four or more runs.
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