The Dodgers’ NLCS against the Cardinals begins little more than 25 hours from now, and while no Eastern mystic will waive a magic wand and instantly cure all that ails Matt Kemp, it does look like the team will have Andre Ethier back in center field, strengthening an already potent lineup that has led all playoff teams so far this postseason with a .333 team batting average. Of special note is the fact that they accomplished that against a Braves’ pitching staff that had led the NL in lowest ERA (3.18) over the regular season.
The Cardinals, on the other hand, hit a robust .209 against the Pirates staff in their NLDS. Overall, the Cardinals are a significantly better offensive team against right handers than against lefties, but the Dodgers, due to the empty uniform non-manager’s strategy of using Clayton Kershaw in NLDS game four on short rest, will be
opening the Championship Series with rightly Zack Greinke, instead of possibly with lefty Kershaw. While Greinke will start game one, the Dodgers will follow with Kershaw and lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu, and they also have Chris Capuano available for a start against St. Louis, which hit .238 against lefties, compared to .280 against righties, during the regular season.
Mattingly bumped Ricky Nolasco once already for Kershaw, so it’s not a stretch to think he would not do it again for Capuano. That could work again now, but what of the long-range effects? Nolasco was a demon for the Dodgers’ for several weeks after his acquisition, going 8-1 with a 2.07 ERA in his first 12 starts. The team needs him happy to be a Dodger for next year, and thereafter. He can leave after an embarrassing post season and the Dodgers will be the big losers, having to fill that void once again next season. Remember, the Dodgers’ starting staff beyond the active few, is full of big-time question marks, full of Chad Billingsleys and Josh Becketts who will be attempting comebacks from major injuries.
|The Dodgers get a major break in not facing Adam Wainwright before game three, with Joe Kellyy starting the opener, followed by super-rookie Michael Wacha, who had the top performance on any of the slew of great young starters dotting both the AL and NL Division Series. Kelly is no slouch either, going 10-5 with a 2.69 ERA in just his second major league season.|
Have you noticed that Wainright, Kelly, Macha, and the Cards fourth starter, Lance Lynn, plus most of their bullpen, are are righties? In fact, only young lefty reliever Kevin Siegrist and ancient lefty reliever Ray Choate, who between them only pitched 75 innings this past season, throw from the left side among their active roster. All the more need for a lefty hitter like Either to be in the Dodgers’ lineup.