NLCS: Dodgers vs. Cardinals
Season series: Dodgers won 4-3.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Los Angeles is without CF Matt Kemp, shut down on the final day of the regular season with swelling of a bone in his sprained left ankle. … OF Andre Ethier was limited to pinch-hitting duty in the division series against Atlanta because of his own left ankle injury. But if it has healed sufficiently, he could play the outfield in this series for the first time since Sept. 13. … Ethier is only Dodgers regular who has any success against RHP Adam Wainwright. He has three homers and three doubles in 33-at bats and is hitting .303 against the Cardinals ace.
St. Louis Cardinals: The Cardinals went 54-27 overall at Busch Stadium, the second-best home record in the majors. Los Angeles, however, had the league’s best road record at 45-36. … RHP Michael Wacha has been almost untouchable in his last two starts, displaying remarkable poise for a 22-year-old rookie. … Keep an eye on LF Matt Holliday. He has great success against many of the Dodgers. In 43 career plate appearances against LHP Clayton Kershaw, Holliday has walked 10 times and is hitting .303 (10 for 33) with a homer. He’s 9 for 26 (.346) with two homers when facing RHP Zack Grienke. Against RHP Ricky Nolasco he’s even better: 12 for 26 (.462) with six extra-base hits and seven RBIs. …… Lance Lynn is 2-0 with a 2.50 ERA in three career starts against L.A.
Watch for: Kershaw won the N.L. Cy Young Award in 2011 and is the clear-cut favorite again. His closest competition could be Wainwright. Both aces have embraced the postseason pressure, and neither shows any signs of fatigue following heavy workloads all season. They may not face each other in this series, but if one of them wilts it could be difficult to overcome. … Good pitching stops good hitting, right? Well, here’s one more test. The Dodgers ranked second in the majors with a 3.25 ERA. St. Louis led the N.L. with 783 runs, 77 more than the next-highest team (Colorado). But the Cardinals have some super arms of their own that held Pittsburgh to a single run in each of the final two games in the NLDS. … Rookie outfielder Yaseil Puig helped lead the Dodgers out of last place and into a big lead in the N.L. His big-play ability could be the decider in what should be a tight series.