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NLCS Preview: Dodgers Look To Get Back To WS After 25-Year Drought



The Dodgers offense comes in tied for the most runs in the NLDS and broke a record for the highest team batting average in an NLDS series at .333. In four games, the NL West champions scored 26 runs and hit seven home runs.

Led by Ramirez and Puig, the Dodgers had seven total players with a batting average over .330. Ramirez hit .500 in the series and drove in six runs, continuing his torrid pace from the season. Puig hit .471 in the series and was a catalyst for the offense, scoring five runs.

Heroes of Game 4, Crawford and Uribe, hit .353 and .375 respectively, while combining for five home runs and nine RBI. The two were the biggest surprises of the NLDS for the Dodgers.

A.J. Ellis and Gonzalez each hit .333 in the series and Gonzalez drove in four. Ellis was productive out of the eighth spot in the lineup, while Gonzalez continued his consistent play.

The two that struggled for the Dodgers were Schumaker and Mark Ellis. Schumaker, filling in for Ethier, did drive in a couple runs but had just three hits in the series. Ellis hit .267 but had five strikeouts in the NLDS.

Off the bench, Michael Young had a hit in three at-bats and will get the call in crucial situations in the game. If Ethier is healthy, he would get the start in center, but until then is only available as a pinch-hitter and went 0-3 in the series off the bench. Backup catcher Tim Federowicz, infielders Nick Punto and Gordon and outfielder Scott Van Slyke didn’t receive any at-bats in the series.

Starting Pitching and Bullpen

Coming into the NLCS, the Cardinals and the Dodgers have two different driving forces. The Cardinals had one of the best offenses in the game while the Dodgers got here with one of the best pitching staffs in baseball.

The Cardinals offense is a run scoring machine, but their young pitching staff isn’t so far off either. The Red Birds have a big game winner in Adam Wainwright (18-9), who proved it Game 5 of the NLDS with his dominating complete-game victory over the Pirates. This season, he went 0-1 against the Dodgers with a 3.86 ERA this season and is 1-2 with a 5.16 ERA in his career at Dodger Stadium.

The Cards also have a few young horses that can let it loose on any given moment with rookies Michael Wacha, who was incredible in the series against the Pirates, while Joe Kelly will start Game 1 tonight.

Wacha was 4-1 with a 2.78 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 65 strikeouts this season and has been unhittable in his last couple of starts as he finished the season one out shy of a no-hitter. He then repeated his dominance in his start versus the Pirates, taking a no-hitter to the eighth inning, only to lose it with one out in the eight to a home run to Pedro Alvarez.

At the end of the game, the Cardinals bullpen is anchored by hard throwing Trevor Rosenthal, who took over the closer’s role late in the season after closer Edward Mujica struggled at the end of the season. Rosenthal came in to pitch two games in the first round, striking out two and earning one save in his two innings.

The Dodgers, though, can’t be matched at the top of their rotation as they have the best 1-2 combo in the league as Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw showed their dominance against the Braves. For Games 3 and 4, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Ricky Nolasco have been shaky down the stretch, as Nolasco was bumped in favor of Kershaw against the Braves in the NLDS.

Kershaw was Kershaw in his two starts against the Braves in the NLDS as he finished with 12 strikeouts, allowing just one run in his 6-1 victory in Game 1. On three days rest, he finished them off in with a six inning, three hit effort with six strikeouts and two unearned runs in Game 4.

Greinke starts Game 1 of the NLCS tonight and in his only NLDS start, he earned the loss but pitched a great game. He went six innings, allowing just two runs on four hits while striking out three. Greinke is 1-2 with a 5.56 ERA in the postseason but he showed enough in his first game this postseason that his struggles might be behind him.

The Dodgers bullpen is struggling a bit this postseason and could be a reason why Mattingly decided to keep Paco Rodriguez off the roster. While he’s been the Dodgers lefty specialist all season long, Paco had a 5.68 ERA in September and couldn’t retire Jason Heyward in Game 2 of the NLDS.

That all gets washed away as Brian Wilson, J.P. Howell and Kenley Jansen have been shut down guys so far. Wilson struck out four in three innings while earning the win in Game 4. However, Capuano was left off the roster in favor of Edinson Volquez even though he picked up the win in Game 3 after taking over for Ryu.

Howell has three strikeouts and has allowed one hit in 2.1 innings pitched and Jansen has seven strikeouts and one save in three games pitched.

It’s clear that both teams are evenly matched and it should be a great NLCS as the Dodgers look to end their 25-year drought and return to the World Series.

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In case you missed it, here’s the home run that sent the Dodgers to the NLCS!

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