The Los Angeles Dodgers are one of those teams that can beat you in nearly every phase of the game — whether you like it or not. Winning the NLDS over the Atlanta Braves as the lower seed wasn’t that much a surprise, but through the first couple of months of the season, you would have called me crazy if I told you they’d be playing for the NL Pennant.
On the other side of the diamond, the St. Louis Cardinals have been a repeat guest in the NLCS and are quite possibly the most experienced team left in the playoffs. Finishing the season with the best record in baseball was tough because of the division the Cardinals played in — the best in baseball.
Offensively, the Dodgers’ had just four players who batted over .300 during the regular season. One was a pitcher and the other three combined for just 211 games on the season so their batting average doesn’t meet the minimum at-bats requirement. Yasiel Puig was the player who started this team’s turnaround, but I think the two guys that need to play well in this series are Hanley Ramirez, who tore it up in limited time this year with a .345 average and 20 homers in 86 games, and Adrian Gonzalez who led the team in nearly every offensive category.
The Cardinals had one of the top offenses in baseball this season, ranking fourth in team batting average and third in runs scored in all of baseball. The reason for the success on this team is the balanced hitting at the top of the order. In fact, five players have hit .296 or higher in the regular season — a remarkable number considering that is more than half of the lineup. In my opinion, Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran need to step up as the team’s veterans moving forward. Holliday is hitting .300 in the playoffs so far while Beltran is hitting just .222 with three homers and eight RBI combined.
Pitching-wise, the Dodgers have the upper hand in this series. With one of the best rotations in baseball, if not the best, the Dodgers have already relied heavily upon Clayton Kershaw — the best pitcher in baseball — to win them two games in the NLDS and had a 0.69 ERA in that series. Although Adam Wainwright might be the hottest pitcher right now, but the Dodgers’ strong staff trumps him and Michael Wacha.
Game 1: Dodgers at Cardinals, 8:30 p.m. EST, Friday, Oct. 11, TBS
Game 2: Dodgers at Cardinals, 4 p.m. EST, Saturday, Oct. 12, TBS
Game 3: Cardinals at Dodgers, 8 p.m. EST, Monday, Oct. 14, TBS
Game 4: Cardinals at Dodgers, 8 p.m. EST, Tuesday, Oct. 15, TBS
Game 5*: Cardinals at Dodgers, 4 p.m. EST, Wednesday, Oct. 16, TBS
Game 6*: Dodgers at Cardinals, 8:30 p.m. EST, Friday, Oct. 18, TBS
Game 7*: Dodgers at Cardinals, 8:30 p.m. EST, Saturday, Oct. 19, TBS
PREDICTION: Dodgers beat Cardinals in six, 4-2
The Dodgers find themselves in their first NLCS since 2009 behind the pitching of Kershaw and Zack Grienke. Don’t miss out on Dodgers Tickets as they look to make their first World Series in 25 years.