2013 NLCS Preview: Cardinals vs Dodgers
Game 1 @ St. Louis Friday 8:30PM
Zach Greinke vs Joe Kelly
Game 2 @ St. Louis Saturday 4:00PM
Clayton Kershaw vs Michael Wacha
Game 3 @ Los Angeles Monday 8:00PM
Adam Wainwright vs TBA
Game 4 @ Los Angeles Tuesday 8:00PM
TBA vs TBA
Game 5 @ Los Angeles Wednesday 4:00PM (if necessary)
TBA vs TBA
Game 6 @ St. Louis Friday 8:30PM (if necessary)
TBA vs TBA
Game 7 @ St. Louis Saturday 8:30PM (if necessary)
TBA vs TBA
The National League Championship Series has finally arrived and a trip to the World Series is on the line. The Cardinals edged out the Pirates in five games and the Dodgers took care of business against the Braves in four. Today, the Dodgers and Cardinals will begin a best-of-seven series in St. Louis. The first two games will be in St. Louis then the next three in Los Angeles and the last two, if necessary, back in St. Louis. It’s been 25 years for the Dodgers since the last time they made it to the World Series, when they beat the Athletics in five games in 1988. The Cardinals are no strangers to late October baseball, winning titles in 2006 over the Tigers and 2011 over the Rangers. This time around, it’s a different story.
The Dodgers come into October as the hottest team in baseball. The run they put on from late June to today is incredible. After trailing by 9.5 games in June, Don Mattingly led his club to a National League West title with a 92-70 record. They beat out the Diamondbacks (who they were trailing) by an astounding 11 games. They took care of business in the first round against the Braves, thanks to a clutch home run from Juan Uribe in game four. This team has got it all. They have the pitching staff led by what will be the Cy Young Award winner in Clayton Kershaw. Zach Greinke, rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Ricky Nolasco follow him in the rotation. The bullpen has been nearly as good led by Brian Wilson and Kenley Jansen. That is just the pitching staff. When you look at this team’s offense, it gives opposing pitching staffs’ nightmares. They have so much versatility in the lineup from top to bottom, especially since Yasiel Puig arrived. Carl Crawford has the speed at the top of the lineup. Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Puig, and Uribe all provide power in the middle of the lineup. Andre Ethier will also be back and inserted in the lineup, making them almost unstoppable.
On the other side, the Cardinals seem to find themselves late into October every year. This organization is run almost perfectly and despite Tony LaRussa no longer in the dugout, Mike Matheny has done a terrific job managing this team. Adam Wainwright is the workhorse in the rotation, but what has been surprising are the young pitchers behind him. Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly, and recently Michael Wacha have made the Cardinals rotation tremendous all season, and completely overlooked. Their bullpen has been pretty good this season led by Trevor Rosenthal and Edward Mujica, but the Dodgers get the edge there. Their lineup is also very dangerous with Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday, Allen Craig, Yadier Molina, Matt Carpenter, and David Freese. There is not an easy out in the Red Birds lineup. They finished third in runs, fourth in batting average, and third in OBP this season. The Dodgers were 17th, sixth, and ninth, respectively.
This series is going to be a battle until the ninth inning of game seven. The difference in this series will be one player and that is Clayton Kershaw. The Dodgers ace will be the difference maker in this series and in the end veteran pitching in October usually prevails. The Dodgers have exactly that and despite how good the Cardinals young starters have been, I have to go with Los Angeles and their veterans. The Dodgers will advance to their first World Series since 1988.
DODGERS IN 7