Both teams have had exceptional years and the series should be a long one -- six or seven games -- as both squads are well-constructed and built to have a lot of postseason success.
Though the Cards have home-field advantage, the Dodgers will take the long series for these five reasons:
The Dodgers boast two of the three best starters in this series, including baseball's best pitcher in Clayton Kershaw, as I've discussed previously. Neither Kershaw nor Cards ace Adam Wainwright can start Game 1, but Zack Greinke can and will give the Blue Crew a distinct advantage.
Los Angeles will get at least four starts from its electric pair, and it's hard to imagine the Cardinals taking more than one of those games, at best.
The Dodgers' ace reliever is nails when called upon, as he misses bats with the best of them and limits free passes. When the game is turned over to Kenley, it is truly lights out. An amazing cutter and all-time great swing-and-miss stuff awaits the Cardinals in the late innings.
People will focus on Ryu's tough start against the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS, but he's been very good for the majority of the year and gives the Dodgers the best 1-2-3 punch of any rotation in baseball.
The Cardinals struggle mightily to hit lefties, ranking in the bottom five in all of baseball in OBP and wOBA. Ryu will toe the rubber at least once and maybe twice, giving the Dodgers the edge in the game(s) he starts.
The Dodgers are led by offensive dynamos Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig, but it was a team effort in the NLDS that led to the defeat of Atlanta. As a unit, they hit .333/.390/.572/.962 and received key contributions from Juan Uribe, Carl Crawford, and A.J. Ellis.
The Cards feature an all-righty rotation, and the Dodgers' offense was top 10 in OBP and wRC+ (as well as 11th in wOBA) against righties during the 2013 regular season.
Adding Andre Ethier
The Dodgers defeated the Braves with a hobbled Ethier limited to pinch-hitting duties and nothing more. Dre is healthier and will be manning center instead of Skip Schumaker, and while I still cringe at the thought of him playing defense in center, the Dodgers have -- for all intents and purposes -- picked up a solid player and added him to the roster at the most important time of the year.
Greg Zakwin is the founder of Plaschke, Thy Sweater Is Argyle, a Dodgers' and sports card blog. He writes with an analytical tilt about The Blue Crew at ChadMoriyama.com. You can find and follow him on Twitter @ArgyledPlaschke. A graduate of UCLA in 2011 with a Bachelor's in History, he's been a follower of the Dodgers since birth and still mourns the loss of both Mike Piazza and Carlos Santana.
- Sports & Recreation
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- Clayton Kershaw
- Zack Greinke