Before the Dodgers and Cardinals get underway in the NLCS tomorrow night, I had the pleasure of interviewing Al Leiter of MLB Network this afternoon. Leiter is apart of the MLB Tonight analyst crew, which provides fans with highlights and analysis before and after every postseason game.
In his career, Leiter pitched for the Yankees, Marlins, Mets and Blue Jays before retiring and going over to the broadcast side. Along with bein an analyst for MLB Network, Leiter is an analyst for the YES Network.
Here’s our full interview previewing the Dodgers-Cardinals NLCS ahead of Game 1.
Q: When the playoffs were set, did you envision the NLCS shaping up this way?
Leiter: Yes, even though I wanted the Pirates. I love Clint Hurdle, I love the fan base and they were the little engine that could. I believed the Dodgers and Cardinals would make it and it’s going to be a tremendous series.
Q: On paper, how do you think the Dodgers and Cardinals shape up?
Leiter: First off, it’s going to be a great series and it comes down to a Game 7. Premium rotations in baseball. It might come down to which manager makes the change to the bullpen first. Advantage Games 1 and 2 to the Dodgers for experience although I don’t think Michael Wacha is a fluke with throwing almost two no-hitters.
The 3-4-5 starters is interesting with Hyun-Jin Ryu against Adam Wainwright and it’s paramount that the Dodgers at least get a split in St. Louis.
Q: What did you think about Clayton Kershaw throwing on three-days rest and did you ever in your career?
Leiter: I think Bobby (Valentine) brought me back on three days, but I can’t remember. I was always a max-effort guy and I would rather have the extra days.
Kershaw is on a whole other level. He works his butt off and went to Donnie and has taken ownership of that, which says a lot about him. The routine is hard, no doubt. No side day, probably throwing off flat ground. You don’t lift as much or do much running, the routine is off.
Q: I’m sure you saw Sandy Koufax and Kershaw embrace after Game 4. What kind of comparison, if any, can you make between the two?
Leiter: First off, you can’t really compare, but having said that, it’s a legitimate question. Kershaw has evolved his pitching more than Sandy as he’s throwing more cutters and sliders. It’s clearly by design, but the fact that there’s a legitimate conversation about it, is a huge honor.