Zack Greinke will take the mound for the Dodgers tonight and while he’s likely any other teams’ number one starter, with the Dodgers, he combines with Clayton Kershaw to give the team the best 1-2 pitching punch in the game.
Greinke is an elite level pitcher, but here in L.A., he flies under the radar with his calm demeanor and his shyness doing interviews. He’s a master of his craft, mixes pitches and locates them as well as any pitcher in baseball. I struggle to think of a historical comparison for Greinke, but he definitely watched Greg Maddux while growing up.
Despite how he might appear on camera, Greinke is clearly a very thoughtful guy and he brings that approach with him to the mound. Greinke also excels in other areas of the game as he hit .328 with three doubles and four RBI and also runs the bases well swiping two bags in 2013.
In his one start in the playoffs, Greinke took the loss against the Braves in Game 2 despite a solid effort with six innings of two-run ball. Greinke will face a deep and balanced Cardinals lineup, whereas the Braves’ were heavily dependent on the home run and stacked with lefties, the Cardinals’ feature a balanced lineup and is more than capable of manufacturing runs.
Matt Carpenter is not your prototypical lead-off man, but he might have been the best in the business in that category in 2013. Carpenter led all of MLB with 126 runs scored and 55 2Bs while batting .318/.392/.873 with 11 HR and 78 RBI. Carpenter sets the table for bashers Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday, and Matt Adams, with all-world catcher Yadier Molina rounding out the heart of the order.
Jon Jay and David Freese are feast-0r-famine hitters sliding into the six and seven spots in the order. The SS platoon of Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso round out the Cardinals’ lineup.
The Cardinals were by far the most efficient offense in the NL all season averaging 4.8 runs per game, by contrast, the Dodgers averaged 4.0 runs per game. St. Louis also had the best defense in the NL along with Arizona committing the fewest errors (75) of any NL team in 2013. Surprisingly, the one area the Cards did not excel in was stolen bases, stealing an NL worst 45 bases all season.
Game 1 is tonight at 5:30 PM on TBS. Greinke will pitch a gem and if the Dodgers can score the necessary runs, a victory and a 1-0 lead is in the Dodgers’ future.
From our friends over at Sportsbook, here’s the betting line for the series:
NLCS Series Price: Dodgers -145/Cardinals +125 http://t.co/KWVdNKhUFE
— Sportsbook.com ® (@Sportsbook_com) October 10, 2013
In case you missed it, here’s video from the Dodgers workout on Wednesday at Dodger Stadium!