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NL playoffs: A look at Giants-Nationals and Cardinals-Dodgers

The National League Divisional Series gets underway Friday afternoon with Washington hosting San Francisco and St. Louis visiting Los Angeles.

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    In this Sept. 24, 2014 file photo, Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw throws to the plate during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants, in Los Angeles.
    Mark J. Terrill/AP/File
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Franchises with plenty of postseason pedigree face off against one another, beginning Friday afternoon in the National League playoffs.

At 3 p.m. Eastern time, the San Francisco Giants meet the Washington Nationals in our nation's capital. The Giants recently won the World Series in both 2010 and 2012. The Nationals won the National League East Division title, with a NL-best 96-66 record, for the second time in three years.

The Giants blanked the Pittsburgh Pirates, 8-0, in the NL wildcard playoff game Wednesday night in Pittsburgh to reach the divisional round. San Francisco will start Jake Peavy, whom they acquired from the Boston Red Sox over the summer. He went 6-4 for the Giants, with a 2.17 earned run average, over the last part of the season.

Washington will counter with pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg, who put together a record of 14-11 during the 2014 season. He led the National League by striking out 242 batters over the course of the year.

Coming into Game 1, the Giants got some postseason batting practice against the Pirates with 11 hits as a team. Shortstop Brandon Crawford struck the big blow, a fourth-inning grand slam, that put San Francisco up for good.

The Nationals have a versatile lineup featuring center fielder Denard Span, who hit .302 on the season and stole 31 bases. Right fielder Jayson Werth hit .292 with 16 home runs and 82 runs batted in. First baseman Adam LaRoche led the Nats with 26 HR and 92 RBI this year.

Then, at 6:30 p.m. Eastern, the Los Angeles Dodgers will host the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 of their NL Division Series in California.

The Cardinals have won 11 World Series titles and 19 National League pennants over their long history. The Dodgers are six-time World Series winners and have 21 NL pennants.

The Dodgers, who won the NL West division, will start two-time Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw, who fashioned a 21-3 record with a terrific 1.77 ERA.

Adam Wainwright, who went 20-9 with a 2.38 ERA, gets the start for the Cardinals, champions of the NL Central division.

At the plate, Los Angeles has relied on first baseman Adrian Gonzalez for power. Gonzalez hit 27 HR and knocked in 119 runs in 2014. Outfielder Matt Kemp also had a solid season, hitting .287 with 25 HR and 89 RBI. Cuban sensation Yasiel Puig hit .296 in his first full major league season, with 16 HR and 69 RBI.

The Cardinals rely on multiple players for offensive support. Left fielder Matt Holliday, shortstop Jhonny Peralta, and third baseman Matt Carpenter form the nucleus of the St. Louis batting order.

You can watch both National League games on Fox Sports 1, beginning at 3 p.m. Friday.

 
 
 

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