Beginning Friday the Los Angeles Dodgers have one of the tougher stretches of their schedule ahead of them as they are about to play 34 games in 34 days. It’s not that they won’t have an off-day during the stretch — they don’t play June 11 — it’s that it includes a double header against the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday.
The madness begins against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium, where the Dodgers’ last two postseason runs have come to a grinding halt; the Cardinals eliminated the Dodgers in the 2013 2013 National League Championship Series and 2014 NLDS.
On top of Busch Stadium being a house of horror for the Dodgers over the last two years, St. Louis currently holds the best record in the Majors at 31-16. With this being the first meeting between the two clubs this season, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly admitted playing the Cardinals is not the same as any other series, via ESPN’s Mark Saxon:
They’ve got a good club every year and meeting in the playoffs like that just ups the regular season when you play those clubs,” Mattingly said. “So, it’s definitely a little bit different than when you play Milwaukee or someone. Not to downplay Milwaukee, but we haven’t met them in the postseason three different times. It just changes things.”
A key differences between the weekend series and previous postseason battles is the Cardinals won’t need to face Zack Greinke or Clayton Kershaw, which A.J. Ellis said further adds to the Dodgers’ difficult task:
It’s always a test going into St. Louis,” Ellis said. “They’re probably the best team in the National League right now. They have some amazing players on both sides of the ball. It’s going to be a big challenge for us, especially going in there without Zack or Clayton.”
Despite having a day off on Thursday, Mattingly decided to give all his starters an extra day of rest heading into the long stretch of games ahead of them, meaning Mike Bolsinger, Carlos Frias and Brett Anderson, in that order, will be facing off against the Cardinals’ John Lackey, Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez.