As we continue on the "Nats are going to win the NL East" path that only the insane fear to tread on now*, there is no harm in looking toward the next destination which in an NLDS date with either the Dodgers or the Giants. As nice as it would be to catch the WC winner the Nats are 9 back of the Cubs. That's not going to happen. So the East and the West will face off with the Nats likely to have home field advantage. Who'd you rather get?
Offense - Solid up and down the lineup a team that's more power and patience than scrappy run manufacturers. Station to station types of offense. They are no threat to steal. Seager (.316 / .377 / .535 24 HR) is the team leader with Grandal, Gonzalez, and Pederson all above average bats. All four of those guys hit LH (Grandal is switch but is better from left side) making them vulnerable to LHP. They are 17-19 versus southpaws this year. Weak bench, consisting of one lefty bat (Andrew Toles) and nothing else)
Starting Pitching - Kershaw is the best pitcher in the majors right now. Well not right now, because right now he's injured. but you know what I mean. He's back on Friday and if healthy is the most formidable pitcher to face. There's an opinion that he has playoff issues but that's overblown, especially innings 1-6. Kenta Maeda is a more than solid #2 and if Rich Hill is healthy, he just came back in past two weeks, he's an excellent #3. If health turns though Kershaw-Meada-Hill could become Meada-Kazmir-Stripling or something like thtat.
Relief Pitching - Jansen is a shutdown closer and Joe Blanton of all people, has become an above average set-up man. Before that they go by match up. Liberatore and Dayton can do a number on lefties. RH relief before that is more spotty and up to Baez likely. A tough crew though taken as a whole.
Etc - Fairly steady team - after slow start haven't had a losing month. Good in August but primarily taking advantage of Giants failure. Rookie manager. Two straight NLDS losses (though an NL Championship appearance before that). Vin Scully!
Offense - Mediocre line-up that relies on above-average patience and some average. Will steal a base if necessary. Do not strike out. No true home run threat. Belt, Posey, Crawford all 15-20 guys. Posey having an off year but still good. Belt is best hitter and he may not even qualify as very good. Pence return should help, if healthy. Pence helps to balance line-up too, otherwise lefty heavy (though not as effected by LHP as LA). Solid bench.
Pitching - Likely Bumgarner, Cueto and Samardzjia. First two are very good. MadBum carried SF to 2014 title. Cueto probably pitching best right now. Jeff more of a filler arm. No good number four
Pitching - Not as dominant as Dodgers back end but good. Casilla, Romo, Strickland, Kontos all above average arms. Lefties like Osich, Okert, good at getting lefties out but pur LOOGYs that get crushed by RHB. Because fo this a balanced line-up could cause issues late in games.
Etc - Recent playoff success with veteran playoff tested manager. If you believe in such stuff - every other year champions and this is every other year. Beat Nationals two years ago. Have played pretty miserably for much of second half (16-31) with little sign of improvement.
My feelings have been thus : If Kershaw is healthy - give me the Giants. Yes, playoff success, beat Nats, etc. But I don't want to have to face Clayton twice in 5 games, especially if the manager is ready/willing to give a quick hook to a very good pen. However, I say this but if the Giants end up getting super hot and taking the West then they would be, well, super hot. And who wants to face a supre hot team in the playoffs? So really what I want is the Dodgers to collapse and the Giants to sneak in and grab the division title.
*Since called by me the Nats have gone a middling 11-10 and their lead over 2nd place has shrunk from 8.5 games all the way to... 8.5 games