After the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates in the NLDS Wednesday night, the Los Angeles Dodgers will head to Missouri to begin the 2013 NLCS. Despite their apparent momentum and advantages I believe the Cardinals will lose to the Dodgers in six games or less.
The Cardinals are certainly a rolling ball of momentum having come back from a 2-1 deficit in the NLDS to advance to face the Dodgers. Unfortunately for St. Louis fans, this momentum comes at a price. The ace of the Cardinals’ staff, Adam Wainwright, had to pitch twice in order to win the series including in the decisive Game 5. After dominating the Pirates in back-to-back performances, Wainwright will certainly need to rest up before pitching against the Dodgers.
As such, the projected Cardinals starter to face off in Game 1 of the NLCS against Zack Greinke is Joe Kelly. Kelly was good in 2013, boasting a 10-5 record with a 2.69 ERA and 1.355 WHIP. Interestingly enough, Kelly received a vote of no confidence from his manager and was not called upon to pitch in the NLDS. A knock to his self-belief and a tough task of facing the Dodgers’ second ace will likely be enough to give the Dodgers a Game 1 victory.
Wainwright is still not projected to go in Saturday’s Game 2 in St. Louis as he would be pitching for the third time in nine days. The recently sizzling Michael Wacha is expected to start and will carry the momentum from his near no-hitter at the end of the regular season and a fantastic performance in Game 4 of the NLDS into the next series. Unfortunately for Wacha and the Cards, that motivational boost will be sent right into a brick wall named Clayton Kershaw.
Another saving grace for the Dodgers is the fact that the Cardinals’ star first baseman, Allen Craig, will most likely not make the NLCS roster. Eric Stephen of truebluela.com reports that Craig had to sit out the final 28 games of the regular season with a sprained foot that also forced him to miss the NLDS. Stephen goes on to site a source close to the Cardinals who says Craig, who hit .315 on the season, will not return to the team before the start of the NLCS on Friday. Despite Matt Adams’ great performance in replacement of Craig, this is a huge disappointment for the Cardinals.
With both the Dodgers’ and Cardinals’ offenses firing on all cylinders in their respective first-round series, the two teams seem to be fairly even in that regard. If my predictions for Games 1 and 2 are correct, the Dodgers will escape St. Louis with a 2-0 series lead and three games to play at home. Even with Wainwright likely starting Game 3 or Game 4 at the very latest, I find it hard to imagine the Cardinals getting out of Los Angeles with all three wins. Most likely, Los Angeles finishes off the Cardinals in Game 6, but possibly even as early as Game 5.
That does it for my prediction of the NLCS. I would love to read why you agree or disagree, so please leave a comment. Thanks for reading!