Cubs vs. Nationals: Tribune writers make NLDS predictions

Mark Gonzales: Nationals in 5

Experience is on the Cubs' side, but the Nationals have the power pitching that packs a powerful punch in the postseason. Max Scherzer's tender right hamstring gives the Cubs a chance, but this is the best-equipped Nationals team in recent seasons.

David Haugh: Cubs in 5

The Nationals enjoyed the better regular season but that means little in October, a month the Cubs know well. Lefty starters Jon Lester and Jose Quintana will come up big and closer Wade Davis will protect they type of leads the NL's most productive offense provided in the second half. Sorry, Dusty, this might be personal for you but, for the Cubs, it's business as usual in the playoffs under Joe Maddon.

Colleen Kane: Cubs in 5

Behind Kyle Hendricks, the Cubs have rotation uncertainties with Jon Lester's inconsistent second half, Jose Quintana's lack of playoff experience and Jake Arrieta's hamstring. But questions also surround Nationals stars Max Scherzer and Bryce Harper because of recent injuries. The edge goes to the Cubs, who found a second-half groove on offense and know how to get it done at this stage.

Chris Kuc: Cubs in 5

Experience and confidence go a long way in the postseason and the Cubs have plenty of both — along with a starting pitching staff that runs four deep. The Nats have two rather large question marks with Max Scherzer and Bryce Harper each coming off injuries.

Paul Skrbina: Nationals in 5

Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer and Gio Gonzalez form a formidable top of the rotation. That, a revamped bullpen and an abundance of offensive threats such as Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon and Cubs nightmare Daniel Murphy should give Dusty Baker's team a slight edge.

Paul Sullivan: Cubs in 5

The Nationals have Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, a stronger lineup and the motivation to get past a first-round series for the first time. But Bryce Harper doesn't look like Bryce Harper yet, and the Cubs seem more relaxed, playing with house money after winning it all last year.

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