ST. LOUIS, Mo. (BaseballStL) -- We knew this was going to happen. All the stars were aligning for the Cardinals and Dodgers to meet in the National League Division Series. Sure, there was a chance the Pirates would leapfrog the Cards into 1st place or the Dodgers would get hot and overtake the Nationals for the best record in the NL.
But the odds of either of those were small. The Cards and Dodgers were always likely playoff opponents.
And this series has no shortage of storylines. There’s LA trying to get revenge for last year’s loss in six games in the NLCS. There’s Adam Wainwright and Clayton Kershaw – two very good friends – squaring off yet again in the postseason. There’s even Mark Ellis, who may not be on the roster, possibly facing his former team.
The big one though is comparing this year’s series to last year’s NLCS. The Cards got through and beat Clayton Kershaw in Game 6 by tattooing him for seven runs and ten hits in just four innings. Something tells me – after having a historic regular season which may very well put him in the MVP discussion – Kershaw is going to be awfully determined not to let that happen again.
What is your prediction for the NLDS? Share your thoughts.
The best pitcher in baseball has started twice against the Cardinals this season and in total went 14 innings, surrendering just three runs while strike out 21. To be fair, he’s been that dominant against everyone so it’s not like he just took all of his frustration out on the Cards.
Here’s how I’d break down the different phases of each team and who has the edge.
Projected starting rotations (Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dan Haren --- Cardinals: Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller, John Lackey).
This is just a projection. First off, Ryu has a shoulder ailment that has kept him sidelined for the last couple weeks and isn’t a sure thing to be ready for this series. Reports say he feels good and something tells me, when it really comes down to it, Ryu will be starting.
The Dodgers have to have the slight edge here. You’re looking at a team with their Game 1 starter having a 1.77 ERA, Game 2 starter a 2.71 ERA, Ryu in Game at 3.38 and Dan Haren is at 4.02. Josh Beckett’s 2.88 earned run average would be in there if he wasn’t out for the season.
Wainwright’s as good as just about anyone but even the most diehard Cardinals fans would have to give the edge to Kershaw. Greinke is more of a “name” than Lance Lynn but when Lynn’s on he can shut down any offense on any given day. It really comes down to his command with his fastball.
Shelby Miller doesn’t have much of a track record in the postseason but if he continues to pitch the way he has of late (1.48 ERA in five September starts) he can give the Cardinals a very good chance…especially if he’s starting opposite a slightly injured Hyun-Jin Ryu.
John Lackey and his reputation for pitching well in big games should give him the edge over Haren. The key with this is the fact in a short best-of-five series the Game 1 starters could both pitch twice.
Wainwright was needed twice against Pittsburgh last year to advance. So even if Lynn, Miller and Lackey can match up with Greinke, Ryu and Haren that still doesn’t change the fact as good as Adam Wainwright is – he’s not quite Clayton Kershaw.
That doesn’t mean the Cardinals can’t beat Kershaw because they did it last year. It just means from a starting rotation standpoint you have to give LA the slight edge.
Offense (Dodgers: Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez, Yasiel Puig, Dee Gordon, Matt Kemp lead the way --- Cardinals: Matt Holliday, Matt Adams, Matt Carpenter, Jhonny Peralta, Yadier Molina)
In the 2014 regular season the Dodgers finished 6th in baseball with 718 runs, 3rd in batting average at .265, they were 1st in OBP at .333 and were 6th in slugging percentage with a .406 mark. The Cardinals? Try 23rd (619 runs), 14th (.253), 9th (.320) and 23rd (369).
Scoring runs has been a big problem for the Cardinals all year long. There isn’t much of a debate about that. Sometimes numbers can be misleading. In this case they’re not. The Dodgers just flat out have a better offense.
So, if you look at every from pitching to hitting – on paper – it would show the Dodgers have the edge over the Cards. All that means is they’ll be the favorites. And we all know favorites don’t always win.
Underdogs have a very impressive history in sports when it comes to the playoffs.
Look back at the Cardinals NLDS win in 2013 - Watch video