It could be a classic series in the making in the National League Championship Series. After all, we are seeing two pitching-rich members of the “Original 16″ facing off, with exciting hitters old and new dotting their lineups as well. Who holds the edge? Well… I don’t know. As I’ve said before and will say again, it’s really difficult to predict a series, where one funny hop or blown call can change everything. So, let’s go aspect by aspect.
First, starting pitching. In this aspect, the Dodgers have an edge. Not too big of an edge, but an edge nontheless. First off, the fact that they were able to finish off the Braves in four games means that they can set up their rotation roughly how they want, with the exception that they will have to swap Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw in the rotation, which, while not what they would have preferred, is hardly a death-blow. By comparison, the Cardinals will be unable to call upon their ace, Adam Wainwright, until Game 3, although they will be able to have young phenom Michael Wacha go against Kershaw. This leads to another advantage that the Dodgers’ rotation has over the Cardinals: depth. Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly are certainly capable pitchers who could defeat the Dodgers, but they aren’t quite at the one-two punch level of Hyun-Jin Ryu (who would be a Rookie of the Year candidate most seasons) or Ricky Nolasco.
Now, lineup. This goes in St. Louis’ favor. They have a deeper bench, more depth, and have Carlos Beltran, who, as has been noted before and will be noted again, is the greatest postseason hitter of our era, if not any era. The redbirds scored 77 more runs this season than any other NL team, and there’s really only one hitter of their eight position players (Pete Kozma) that I wouldn’t fear due to either numbers or reputation.
So, what about bullpen? I give this one to the Dodgers, slightly. Kenley Jansen is an awesome reliever, especially when you consider he once was a catcher. And they also have Brian Wilson, who seems to be back to normal (or whatever he calls normal), as well as other good relievers like J.P. Howell. While the Cardinals certainly aren’t hurting in the bullpen, with Trevor Rosenthal at the helm most notably, but I feel like the Dodgers have a slight advantage here- I’m not entirely sure why, I just feel that way.
However, there are other factors to keep in mind: the Cardinals have home field and more experience, for example, and, well, Don Mattingley still hasn’t won a World Series, despite playing for and then coaching with the Yankees, so you have to wonder if there is some sort of hex upon him.
I don’t believe in hexes, though. Well, not for the purposes of this article at least, as I predict the Dodgers will win in 7.