On-Base Perception

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Five reasons the Dodgers will still win the NLCS

Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig reacts after

Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig reacts after hitting an RBI triple during the fourth inning of Game 3 of the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals. (Oct. 14, 2013) (Credit: AP)

Despite manager Don Mattingly's best efforts (inserting Michael Young at shortstop, using Carlos Marmol for significant relief outs, etc...), the Dodgers still have a shot to win the National League Championship Series against the Cardinals and go to the World Series.

A pretty good one, actually.

Yes, even down 3-1.

Here's why:

(1) While 3-1 may seem insurmountable in a seven-game series, all the Dodgers need to do is put together a two-game winning streak to reach a Game 7 (which narrative dictates means "anything can happen") and a three-game streak to win the series. They won two in a row 54 times during the regular season and three in a row 34 times (33 coming after June 22).

(2) The Dodgers are starting their three best pitchers. Clayton Kershaw may be the best starter in baseball and had a 1.83 ERA in 236 innings pitched, striking out 232. Zack Greinke had a 2.63 ERA in 177.2 innings (148 strikeouts) and Hyun-jin Ryu struck out 154 in 192 innings and posted a 3.00 ERA. Each of the three has pitched well in the NLCS, combining for an 0.85 ERA and 0.57 WHIP.

(3) The Cardinals may have been clutch with runners in scoring position during the regular season (like, "extremely lucky" clutch by mathematical standards), but they're not as clutch when it comes to closing out a series. The Cards have twice led an NLCS 3-1, in both 1996 and 2012. They went on to lose both series.

(4) The Dodgers have pitched and hit better than the Cardinals this series. At some point, that has to matter, right? The Cardinals have pitched to a 1.62 ERA with a 1.05 WHIP and 36 strikeouts in 39 innings. The Dodgers' staff has a 1.64 ERA with an 0.83 WHIP and 35 strikeouts in 38.1 innings. Cardinals hitters are batting .148/.231/.234 (.465 OPS). Dodger's hitters have a line of .223/.280/.309 (.589).

(5) Yasiel Puig is back. Puig batted 8-for-17 (.471) in the NL Division Series (after a jaw-dropping debut in the regular season) before collapsing in the first two games of the NLCS. He went 0-for-10 with six strikeouts and was left for dead by many. Well, the Puig-zombie is back now and looking for vengence. He's 4-for-6 with a triple, two RBIs a walk and one strikeout in the last two games.

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