Jared Massey (@JaredJMassey): Andre Ethier.
Remember him? The former starter has languished in a role that can only be described as “barely there.” Ethier got just 25 plate appearances in September, but he may see at least one start in the postseason.
Why, you might ask? Well, he’s the only Dodger who’s had a modicum of success against Cardinals’ ace Adam Wainwright. In 33 at bats, Andre has nine hits, including three doubles and a pair of home runs. Presumptive starter Carl Crawford has seen Wainwright just seven times, but does have two hits against the St Louis hurler.
Mattingly will be put in a tough situation in Game 1. He loves going with the hot-hand (or bat), but also loves playing matchups. The Dodgers, as a team, are hitting just .238 against Wainwright. Injecting Ethier into the lineup is a long shot, but it could pay off.
Russell Valenzuela (@RussVal4): Matt Kemp’s hot bat could prove to be the difference in Game 1 of the NLDS.
Kemp was held out of the postseason last year due to an ankle injury and dealing with injury. This time around, he looks to make his first appearance since the 2009 NLCS but will do so going against a pitcher he has struggled with in the past.
For his career, Kemp is batting .111 when facing Wainwright and has only managed three hits. Friday could be different as Kemp finished the season hitting well, while earning the NL Player of the Month for September. If Kemp can get a hit or two on Wainwright during Game 1, the Dodgers could be be in good shape.
Vince Samperio (@VinceSince91): Dee Gordon
Gordon limped into the postseason, struggling to get on base and a small case of the yips at second base. There have been rumblings calling for Justin Turner to take over, but that would be an insult to Gordon, who was a major reason the Dodgers are where they are.
Leading off, he will need to find a way to get on base and give Yasiel Puig, Adrian Gonzalez and Matt Kemp a chance to drive him in. Much is being made of the matchup between Gordon’s speed and Yadier Molina’s arm, and there will be a point where the speedster must test the veteran catcher. If Gordon can be the catalyst in the lineup, the Dodgers will be fine coming out of Game 1.