In four of the past five years, the NLCS has featured either the Cardinals or the Dodgers but never both. In fact, at least one of the two storied franchises has made it to the National League’s final series 12 times since the last time these two met in the NLCS (1985).
But in truth, the past 28 years have no bearing on this matchup, which will largely be decided by pitching. And it doesn’t bode well early on for the Cardinals, who rely heavily on young starters behind veterans Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn. Joe Kelly, 23, and Michael Wacha, 22, will start the first two games of the series at home in St. Louis.
The Cardinals staff is tasked with slowing down hot-hitting Dodgers Hanley Ramirez, Yasiel Puig, Juan Uribe and Carl Crawford. The quartet is hitting a combined .424 with six home runs.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, will counter with former Cy Young winners Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw. It’s not that the youngsters aren’t capable of rising to the occasion; Wacha nearly threw a no-hitter in Game 4. But the Dodgers’ arms deserve respect, even from the formidable Cardinals lineup.
Also helping Los Angeles’ cause is the little bit of extra rest it had after putting away the Braves in four games. Meanwhile, the Pirates pushed St. Louis to the brink in Game 3, forcing the Cardinals into two consecutive do-or-die games. That can wear down a team. Bank on the red-hot Dodgers to win in six games.