Perhaps the marquee pitching matchup this postseason will be Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers vs. Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals in Game 1. Should the series go five games, the two aces will likely face off once again in a rematch in Game 5. But when these two teams met in the NLCS a year ago, the two Cy Young candidates combined for three losses, as St. Louis won in six games. The Cardinals won the first game, 3-2 in 13 innings and Game 2, 1-0, as NLCS MVP Michael Wacha pitched a gem, outdueling Kershaw. We can expect another series of close games that likely won’t be decided until Game 5. The Dodgers won four of the seven regular season matchups, winning three of four in Los Angeles in late June.
There are threats up and down the Dodgers’ lineup. There is very little margin for error for the St. Louis pitchers…The Dodgers will also be playing with a bit of a chip on their shoulders. In Game 1 of last year’s NLCS, Hanley Ramirez was hit by a pitch and suffered a rib injury that severely limited his effectiveness the rest of the series. He was 0-for-9 with four strikeouts over the final three games.
Beyond the Wainwright-Kershaw matchup, the Redbirds have an advantage in starting pitching given the questionable availability of Hyun-Jin Ryu. Dan Haren is the Dodgers’ likely fourth starter…St. Louis also has a deeper bullpen than Los Angeles. If the Cardinals get to the Dodgers’ pen early, that could spell doom for the men in blue…With Seth Maness and Sam Freeman in front of Carlos Martinez, Pat Neshek and Trevor Rosenthal, manager Mike Matheny may have a quick hook this series.
Adam Wainwright won his final four starts of the season with a 0.55 ERA over 33 innings. Opponents batted just .197 over those four games…Meanwhile, Kershaw’s numbers are off the charts. In 17 of his 27 starts this season, he allowed one run or less. He gave up more than three runs just once…The eight projected starters are batting .200 off of Wainwright in their careers; .292 off of Lance Lynn; .358 off of John Lackey; and .452 off of Shelby Miller…Dodgers’ second baseman Dee Gordon led the National League with 64 stolen bases this season. The combination of Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina has allowed just six stolen bases over the past three seasons. During that time, seven runners have been nailed.
Hyun-Jin Ryu hasn’t pitched since leaving his start on Sept. 12 after one inning due to shoulder issues. In Game 3 of the 2013 NLCS with the Dodgers down two games, Ryu shut out the Cardinals over seven innings on three hits and a walk. His availability for this series would be a huge boost for Los Angeles…Relievers Carlos Martinez and Pat Heshek will likely be used in high-leverage situations, possibly even in the ninth inning. Other than Wainwright, the Cardinals’ starters — Lance Lynn, John Lackey and Shelby Miller — don’t pitch deep into games, which will put Martinez and Neshek in key roles.
Dodgers in 4