Clayton Kershaw put together one of the more impressive regular seasons seen from a starting pitcher, but it will quickly be forgotten if he’s unable to solve the St. Louis Cardinals — his postseason nemesis — in Game 1 of the National League Division Series.
Kershaw faced the Cardinals twice in last season’s NL Championship Series and suffered a loss in both games. He took the ball in Game 1 and allowed one unearned run in six innings of a Dodgers’ 1-0 loss, then was hit hard in Game 6, in the Dodgers’ elimination loss.
For his career, Kershaw is 1-3 with a 4.23 ERA in postseason play. The Dodger ace started two games against the Cardinals this season and went 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA. Overall at Dodger Stadium this season, Kershaw was an impressive 10-2 and held a low 1.70 ERA.
The Cardinals counter by sending their ace, Adam Wainwright, to the mound. Wainwright won 20 games this season and had a year similar to that of Kershaw’s. The Cardinals right-hander made one start against the Boys in Blue in 2014, and suffered a loss despite allowing just one run in eight innings.
Justin Turner was the man largely responsible for Wainwright’s June loss at Dodger Stadium as he delivered a pinch-hit RBI single in the eighth inning. Turner is one of five bench players the Dodgers will carry on their NLDS roster that doesn’t include Darwin Barney.
The Dodgers’ decision to carry 12 pitchers, which is one more than they did in the 2013 NLDS, doesn’t include Paco Rodriguez. The left-hander was a key reliever last season, spent much of this season in the Minors and didn’t quite look completely recovered in his appearances since coming off the disabled list.
Friday’s lineup for the Dodgers resembles what they consistently used throughout the second half of the season. Dee Gordon’s hip injury doesn’t appear to be a concern and Hanley Ramirez said he’s looking forward to redemption against the Cardinals.
Both teams have been off since Sunday and the Dodgers enter with an 8-2 record in their last 10 games, including ending the year on a five-game winning streak; the Cardinals went 6-4 in their final 10 games. Sportsbook.ag has the Dodgers the -200 favorite on the moneyline and by 1.5 runs on the spread.