- - Thursday, October 4, 2012

WASHINGTON NATIONALS

Credentials: 98-64, NL East champions

Last postseason appearance: 1981, lost to Dodgers 3-2 in NLCS

Best postseason finish: NLCS (1981)

Manager: Davey Johnson (23-23 postseason record)

Player to watch: SS Ian Desmond

Pitcher to watch: LHP Gio Gonzalez

The skinny: The Nats have been consistent from Opening Day, posting a winning record each month and holding at least a share of the NL East lead for all but 10 days in a six-month season. Desmond is but one standout in a potent lineup also highlighted by Bryce Harper, a resurgent Jayson Werth, MVP candidate Adam LaRoche and veteran Ryan Zimmerman, but it’s the arms that make the difference. Even without Stephen Strasburg, the Nats’ rotation should be formidable in October.

CINCINNATI REDS

Credentials: 97-65, NL Central champions

Last postseason appearance: 2010, lost 3-0 to Phillies in NLDS

Best postseason finish: World Series champions (1919, 1940, 1975, 1976, 1990)

Manager: Dusty Baker (18-21 postseason record)

Player to watch: 1B Joey Votto

Pitcher to watch: RHP Johnny Cueto

Story Continues →