The Dodgers and Cardinals will start their National League Championship Series this evening and will both need different players to step up in the seven-game series.

In Game 1, the Dodgers’ X-Factor will be Carl Crawford. Crawford has come up big so far in the postseason and the Dodgers will look for him to continue to carry the load, along with Hanley Ramirez, Yasiel Puig, Adrian Gonzalez and of course, Juan Uribe.

After a couple of injury-ridden seasons, Crawford has finally delivered in the clutch and made good on his huge contract that he signed with the Red Sox. When the Dodgers made their big blockbuster trade with the Sox last summer, Crawford was just a salary dump. The real target was Gonzalez and in order for the Dodgers to get him, they had to agree to also take Crawford.

In his first season with the Dodgers, Crawford hit .283 with a .736 OPS and 30 doubles and finally started to come on strong towards the end of the season. Then came the postseason and Crawford shined in a time when the Dodgers don’t have two of their regular outfielders in Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier.

Kemp was lost for the playoffs  with an ankle injury and Ethier has been slowed by a an ankle injury while being relegated to pinch-hitting duties in the NLDS.

This postseason, Crawford is batting .353 with three home runs and five RBIs with a 1.303 OPS. He hit two home runs in the deciding Game 4 against the Braves and has helped the Dodgers get back to the NLCS for the first time since 2009.

Given the task of igniting the Dodger offense, Crawford has responded well in the playoffs and his success is critical if the Dodgers want to continue playing in October.

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In case you missed it, here’s the home run that sent the Dodgers to the NLCS!

 

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