The Dodgers and Cardinals have played a combined three hundred thirty three games this season. The first team to win four games, however, will be playing for the World Series. They have not played against each other in the postseason since 2004, when the Cardinals defeated the Dodgers in the NLDS (three games to one), en route to the National League Championship that year. The Cardinals and Dodgers have not faced off in the NLCS since 1985, also resulting in a Cardinals win (four games to two). Both these historic franchises will face off in what seems to be an exciting National League Championship Series.
The Cardinals and Dodgers are two of the best teams in the National League, and have gotten here on similar, but very different, paths. The Cardinals and Dodgers have both hit very well, ranking fourth and sixth in the majors in average, respectively. The Cardinals, however, hit in different situations. They ranked first in average with runners in scoring position, posting a whopping .330 mark. The Dodgers, however, are built more well rounded, finishing in the middle of the pack on most statistics, although they have had a pretty star studded lineup.
In the postseason thus far, the Dodgers have been hitting on all cylinders, ranking first in average, OPS, SLG, HR, OBP, and practically every other category for hitting. Their offense is definitely something to watch, especially considering on hot they played against the Atlanta Braves. The Cardinals offense in the playoffs, on the other hand, has not been all that great. Held to just a .209 average, their offense will really be the key on who wins this series.
The Dodgers pitching staff has proven that they can rack up wins and are able to shine in the spotlight. Consisting of Clayton Kershaw, Zach Greinke, Hyun-Jyu Ryu, Ricky Nolasco, etc. the Dodgers pitching staff was unstoppable this season, pitching to a 3.25 ERA (second in MLB). Their starters pitched to a 3.13 ERA, which led the major leagues. The problem is, however, they are facing a pitching staff in the Cardinals just as good. With a 3.42 starters ERA (second in MLB) and 3.42 overall ERA (fifth in MLB), the Dodgers have lost almost all their bragging rights. The unlikely staff of Adam Wainwright, Joe Kelly, Michael Wacha, and Lance Lynn has shined as bright as the Dodgers star studded staff. It'll be interesting to see how each of the starters perform under the spotlight of the NLCS.
The bullpens of these teams could play a large part in the series. The Cardinals and Dodgers bullpen's ERAs are nearly identical, with the Cardinals ERA just a tad bit lower at 3.45 than the Dodgers 3.49 mark. Whoever pitches better down the stretch of the game could play a large impact on the outcome of this series.
The Cardinals and Dodgers are dead even. Not a single part of their teams outranks another. No matter how you break it down, you see two teams that are almost exactly the same. We have good offenses and good pitching by both of these teams. Either team could catch a break and win the decisive game in the series. The momentum could swing either way. I am trying to say that it is anyone's game. The NLCS could be one of the best in recent memory, and could be one that we remember for a long time. This is the types of teams these two are.
So, who do I think will win? The Los Angeles Dodgers. A team with more experience usually has a better chance to thrive in the playoffs, a team who all the players have had the sweet taste of postseason baseball, and know how to preform under pressure. I have been surprised by the Cardinals composure, however, as I believed that they could have been knocked out following game three of the NLDS. But, their resiliency proved me wrong. But, in a best of seven, I am going to go with the Dodgers, strictly on experience. LA in six games.