Nationals ready for world champ Cubs in postseason play

Photo of Nationals running presidents Teddy and Abe
The running presidents are excited about the postseason for the Nationals. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli) (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)
Each fan at Friday night's game will get one of these placards to hold up with Strasburg records a strikeout. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)
Each fan at Friday night’s game will get one of these placards to hold up when Strasburg records a strikeout. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli) (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)
The Nats get ready to take on the defending world champion Chicago Cubs in game 1 of the National League Division Series on Friday night. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)
The Nats get ready to take on the defending world champion Chicago Cubs in game 1 of the National League Division Series on Friday night. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli) (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)
“I’ve been on repeats as a player with that feeling that you have — that feeling of confidence,” Nationals Manager Dusty Baker said. Baker managed the Cubs from 2003 to 2006. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)
“I’ve been on repeats as a player with that feeling that you have — that feeling of confidence,” Nationals Manager Dusty Baker said. Baker managed the Cubs from 2003 to 2006. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli) (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)
The Washington Nationals aren't the only D.C. sports team to head into the offseason earlier than expected. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)
The Nats have been to the playoffs in four of the last six seasons, but the only time the franchise has been to the National League Championship Series was in 1981 when they were the Montreal Expos. D.C. has not played home to a World Series game since 1933 when the Senators lost to the New York Giants in five games. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli) (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)
Gates open for game 1 of the National League Divisional Series at 5:30 p.m. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)
Gates open for game 1 of the National League Divisional Series at 5:30 p.m. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli) (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)
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Photo of Nationals running presidents Teddy and Abe
Each fan at Friday night's game will get one of these placards to hold up with Strasburg records a strikeout. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)
The Nats get ready to take on the defending world champion Chicago Cubs in game 1 of the National League Division Series on Friday night. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)
“I’ve been on repeats as a player with that feeling that you have — that feeling of confidence,” Nationals Manager Dusty Baker said. Baker managed the Cubs from 2003 to 2006. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)
The Washington Nationals aren't the only D.C. sports team to head into the offseason earlier than expected. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)
Gates open for game 1 of the National League Divisional Series at 5:30 p.m. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)

WASHINGTON — The Washington Nationals are getting ready to enter the postseason Friday, taking on the defending world champion Chicago Cubs at Nationals Park.

While the team has never advanced out of the first round of the playoffs, it does have a significant amount of postseason experience, winning four National League East titles in the past six seasons.

“I’ve been on repeats as a player with that feeling that you have — that feeling of confidence,” Nationals Manager Dusty Baker said.

Friday night marks the start of the best-of-five National League Division Series, with the first pitch scheduled for just after 7:30 p.m.

“This is going to be a heck of a postseason,” said Baker.  “You’ve got some quality teams in both leagues.”

Stephen Strasburg will be the starting pitcher for the Nationals Friday.

Pitcher Max Scherzer has been resting, dealing with some hamstring issues, although he is expected to play in the series.

“There’s a lot of guys in here with a lot of playoff experience, a lot of guys that have won some World Series and won some rings,” said Nationals closer Sean Doolittle.  “We do have enough experience that neither one of those teams is going to get caught off-guard by the emotions or by the energy of the situation.”

Outfielder Jayson Werth, who won a championship with the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies, said the Nats have all the ingredients for a successful postseason.

“Of all the years that I’ve been here, this is the year where we have the best chance,” Werth said.  “We’re in the best shape to keep playing and play as long as we can. I love our chances.”

While the Cubs finished strong, going a National League-best 49-25 after the All-Star break to overtake the Milwaukee Brewers and win the NL Central, the Nationals ran away from a mediocre division they clinched nearly a month ago and won by 20 games.

“We respect the Cubs, but we don’t fear any team,” said Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo. “We’re focused, ready and as healthy as we’ve been all season. We’re ready to go.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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