The St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers are two of baseball’s most storied franchises. Yet on Oct. 11, the Cardinals and Dodgers will play just their seventh postseason game together, and first since the 1985 NLCS. That NLCS went six games and ended with two of St. Louis’s most famous home runs, but Los Angeles would like a different ending this time around.
The 1985 Dodgers lost to the Cardinals on Ozzie Smith’s famed Game 5 home run, and Jack Clark’s famed three-run shot to win Game 6 at Dodger Stadium. This would make it ironic if Los Angeles won this year’s pennant on a ninth-inning home run at Busch Stadium in Game 6. However, the Dodgers first have to get through Games 1 and 2, with help from their two aces.
Thanks to Clayton Kershaw’s start on three days rest to close the NLDS, No. 2 ace Zack Greinke will start the NLCS for the Dodgers instead. Fortunately for them, the Cardinals can’t send out ace Adam Wainwright, since he had to dominate the Pittsburgh Pirates to close out their NLDS on Oct. 9. Instead, St. Louis will start Joe Kelly and Michael Wacha before Wainwright goes in Game 3 at Los Angeles.
Kershaw will have full rest for Game 2, giving the Dodgers a real chance to build a 2-0 lead with their two aces. Yet the Dodgers split the start of the NLDS with the Atlanta Braves, once Greinke couldn’t follow up Kershaw’s Game 1 win. As a result, the lack of starting pitching depth behind them forced manager Don Mattingly to move up Kershaw’s next start, in a gamble that barely paid off.
While Los Angeles’s rotation may be in flux down the line, St. Louis might be in better overall shape. Wainwright won’t have to duel Greinke or Kershaw in Game 3, and is in line to start a deciding Game 7 as well. After the way he eliminated the Pirates in Game 5, the Cardinals have to feel confident about a Game 7 repeat, even if Greinke or Kershaw face Wainwright on short rest.
The last Cardinals-Dodgers NLCS ended with fireworks, as St. Louis won out and survived Los Angeles aces Fernando Valenzuela and Oral Hershiser. Will this NLCS have the Cardinals overcoming Greinke and Kershaw, or can these Dodgers write a better ending for themselves?