The Dodgers, who beat the Braves in the NLDS, will be taking on the Cardinals, who beat the Pirates in the NLDS, in the NLCS starting tonight.
We took a look at how the two teams fare in certain aspects:
The Cardinals come in with the best record in the NL at 97-65, while the Dodgers finished at 92-70.
The NL Central champions had a 54-27 record at home, good for second in the MLB and were 43-38 on the road, while Dodgers ended tied for the best road record at 45-36 and were 47-34 at home.
In the regular season, the Cardinals led the National League in runs scored, on-base percentage, doubles and batting average with runners in scoring position. Their pitching ranked fifth in the NL in ERA and strikeouts. Their starters’ ERA ranked second in the NL at 3.42, while their bullpen was eighth at 3.45.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers ranked seventh in the NL in runs scored, but third in batting average and on-base percentage. Their pitching ranked second in the NL in ERA at 3.25. The starters led all of baseball with a 3.13 ERA, while ranking ninth in their league in bullpen ERA at 3.49.
Baserunning, Defense and Coaching
The Cardinals ranked dead last in the NL in stolen bases and only had one player with double digit stolen bases. John Jay led the team with 10 while nobody is known as a stolen base threat, although Jay and infielder Peter Kozma each had a stolen base in the NLDS.
The Red Birds ranked second in the NL in fielding percentage and are led by their catcher Yadier Molina. Molina is the reigning Gold Glove winner and has thrown out 43.5% of runners this season. In center field, Jay is solid defensively with corner outfielders Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday a bit below average. The Cardinals lost first baseman Allen Craig and his solid defense; however, Matt Adams has filled in admirably, giving them a steady, but not spectacular of the rest of the infield.
The Cardinals are led by second year manager Mike Matheny. The former catcher took over for Tony La Russa and led the team to the NLCS last season where they were defeated by the San Francisco Giants. Matheny had his team playing well all season, despite having several rookies in the starting lineup.
The Dodgers were seventh in the NL in stolen bases, but that number can be deceiving with the speed the Dodgers have. Carl Crawford, Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez all can steal a base if needed and are aggressive taking an extra base when possible. On the bench, the Dodgers have a stolen base threat in Dee Gordon as the Dodgers could look to use him like the Reds did Billy Hamilton.
All season, the Dodgers defense struggled as they ranked 12th in the NL in fielding percentage, but had a solid defensive effort save for one game in the NLDS. The Dodgers are also led by their catcher A.J. Ellis, who threw out 44.4% of runners. In the infield, the Dodgers are strong at the corners with Juan Uribe and Adrian Gonzalez, while Ramirez may be a small liability at shortstop. The Dodgers outfield is solid, with Puig providing the flash and strong arm. It’s still unclear whether Andre Ethier is healthy enough to take over center field from Skip Schumaker, but he hasn’t been too bad since taking over.
Don Mattingly leads the Dodgers in his third year at the helm. This is his first postseason as a manager and enjoyed an NLDS victory. Mattingly has been known to rely heavily on the bunt and same-handedness match-ups late in games; however, he’s helped get the Dodgers this far.
Hitting and Bench
The Cardinal offense comes in with some momentum after scoring six runs in the deciding Game 5 of the NLDS.
However, the team hit just .209 in the series even though they scored 21 runs in 5 games. Of those 21 run, 15 of them were scored in two games leaving them just six runs in the other three.
During the season, the Cardinal offense was efficient and productive. Beltran and Holliday anchor the middle of the order as Beltran had two home runs and six RBI in the NLDS. Third baseman David Freese, the 2011 postseason hero, had a key two-run home run in Game 5, but hit just .188 in the series.
Kozma and Adams hit well in the NLDS, although Kozma hit just .217 on the season. Adams hit a booming home run late in Game 5 to seal the game for the Cardinals. While Jay hit .188 in the series he did drive in two runs and was a .276 hitter with 67 RBI on the season.
Molina enjoyed a productive NLDS with a .294 average, but had just one run batted in. Second baseman Matt Carpenter, who led the league with 55 doubles during the season, hit just .053 in the NLDS.
Daniel Descalso could see some time at shortstop, but should come off the bench. Descalso is a solid defender but had just one hit in nine at-bats in the NLDS and hit .238 on the season. The Cardinals also have infielder Kolten Wong, outfielders Shane Robinson and Adron Chambers and catcher Tony Cruz. The group had four at-bats in the NLDS but failed to get a hit and none of them hit over .250 during the season.