The Los Angeles Dodgers clinched a trip to the 2013 NLCS with one of the most exciting wins of the season on Monday night. As the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals are set to battle out their half of the NLDS in deciding fashion on Wednesday night, the Dodgers can only sit and wait to see who their opponent will be.
The natural question at hand is, which of these two teams would the Dodgers rather see in the next round of the postseason? I believe the clear answer is the Pirates.
Historically, the Dodgers lead the series against the Bucs 52-21 (.708) in the last ten years. In the previous three seasons, the Dodgers have bested the Pirates with a record of 16-5 (.762). Even just in this season alone, easily the Pirates’ best in the last 20 years, the Dodgers have won four out of six games. The Dodgers seem to have the number of this really good team.
In comparison, the Dodgers have won just under 40% of their games against the Cardinals in the last ten years and hold only a slight edge over St. Louis this season. Further, as the Cardinals won the strong NL Central division over the Pirates, the Dodgers would hold home-field advantage over the Bucs but not the Cardinals. As the Dodgers are slightly better at home than on the road this year, that extra game at Chavez Ravine could prove to be crucial.
The final reason the Dodgers should rather face the Pirates is the two teams’ respective pitching rotations. Both Pittsburgh and St. Louis have strong offenses, but the Cardinals’ starting rotation is more complete than the Pirates’. Adam Wainwright leads the way for St. Louis, followed closely by Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller and more recently the spectacular Michael Wacha. Francisco Liriano, Gerrit Cole and the rest of Pirates’ pitchers will not be able to hold their own against the Dodgers’ big bats as well as the Cardinals’ rotation.
Time will tell which of these two teams will meet the Boys in Blue for a shot at the World Series, but if the Pirates come to town, the Dodgers will be better off for it.