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Adam Wainwright will need to come up huge again in NLCS

Oct 10, 2013, 12:18 AM EDT

Division Series - Pittsburgh Pirates v St Louis Cardinals - Game Five Getty Images

While they do have the advantage of staying home in St. Louis, the Cardinals won’t have long to rest following their NLDS victory on Wednesday night.

The Dodgers are coming to town on Friday, and they’re bringing their aces.

The Cardinals’ rotation is in flux after their five-game series, but the Dodgers face no such questions with Zack Greinke getting the ball on Friday and Clayton Kershaw following in Saturday’s Game 2. The Cardinals would seem to be at a clear disadvantage both days. The Game 1 starter is still unannounced, with NLDS Game 3 starter Joe Kelly, Game 2 starter Lance Lynn and rookie Shelby Miller all capable of pitching. Kelly would seem to be the favorite to get the nod.

After that, it’ll almost certainly be Michael Wacha in Game 2. With the way he’s throwing, he looks like the fourth-best starter in the series. Unfortunately, he’ll be going against the best in Kershaw.

The Cardinals will be in better shape when the series heads to L.A. Game 3 will pit Wainwright versus an iffy Hyun-Jin Ryu. The Dodgers have denied that there’s anything physically wrong with Ryu, but reports have suggested otherwise.

Game 4 figures to feature one of the guys who wasn’t picked from the Kelly-Lynn-Miller trio and Ricky Nolasco, who was passed over in Game 4 of the NLDS for Kershaw on short rest. That’s probably another advantage to the Cardinals, given Nolasco’s poor showing at the end of the season and lack of recent activity. Then it’s back to Greinke and Kershaw for the Dodgers, with Wainwright waiting in Game 7.

While seven-game series take unexpected twists and turns all of the time, it is pretty hard to see the Cardinals beating the Dodgers without winning both of Wainwright’s starts. Fortunately, Wainwright seems more than up to the task. He just finished off the Pirates with a 107-pitch complete game to improve to 4-0 with a 2.03 ERA and a ridiculous 57/7 K/BB ratio in 48 2/3 innings in the postseason. Including the two against the Pirates, the Cardinals have won each of his last seven starts dating back to the regular season, with Wainwright allowing a total of nine runs in that span.

  1. piratecaptain12 - Oct 10, 2013 at 12:25 AM

    Big money billionaires vs the team that’s in it every year. Selig just flipped his desk.

    • stercuilus65 - Oct 10, 2013 at 7:35 AM

      More working class heroes vs evil rich guys. That bullshit didn’t work for the braves and it wont workfor the cards, sorry.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Oct 10, 2013 at 8:53 AM

        I don’t think either side has a shortage of millionaires. Guys making the minimum are far above “working class.”

  2. babyfarkmcgeezax - Oct 10, 2013 at 12:38 AM

    Buccos fan here – Go Cards! Beat L.A.!

  3. janknessgv - Oct 10, 2013 at 12:51 AM

    Kelly. miller. waino. Wacha. cards are ready to play. Greinke has never won a big game and Ryu is injured. Cards will get it done.

    • bfunk1978 - Oct 10, 2013 at 7:57 AM

      That rotation makes so much sense, yet Matheny will start Lynn because…well I don’t know why, but it mystifies me.

      • paperlions - Oct 10, 2013 at 9:38 AM

        Apparently, Miller has been gassed the last month and it has been affecting his ability to repeat his delivery and, therefore, his control.

      • bfunk1978 - Oct 10, 2013 at 11:14 AM

        He’s had an extra week off now, maybe that will help? He pitched a ton for a guy so young, though

  4. savior72 - Oct 10, 2013 at 12:57 AM

    That’s right pirates, you just got
    It stuck in your ass. It’s ok to be butt-hurt right now.

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 10, 2013 at 12:57 PM

      You are one classy guy 72.
      Please do me a huge favor and let everyone know you are NOT a Cardinals fan.
      Cause’ if you are…I am embarrassed or both of us.

  5. jimsjam33 - Oct 10, 2013 at 1:16 AM

    The Cardinals have the clear advantage in games 1 and 2 ? Sorry Charlie . I don’t think so . No one has the advantage over the Dodgers when Kershaw and Grienke are pitching .
    Let’s let it play out . Wacha and Wainwright good luck . These guys , the Dodgers , looked pretty tough versus the Braves . It should be a pretty good series to watch . Dodgers in six .

    • Jeff M. - Oct 10, 2013 at 2:41 AM

      I saw that too . . . that looks to be a typo. I suspect it should’ve said “disadvantage.”

    • notsofast10 - Oct 10, 2013 at 11:28 AM

      The whole article seems to be full of mistakes! Matthew must have been working overtime and up past his bed time!

    • cincinata - Oct 10, 2013 at 1:11 PM

      I think as an observer, that the biggest issue is what are the records each pitcher has against the other team. I don’t think Kershaw is as dominant with the Cards as with other teams. I am not sure about Grienke, but I have heard that Ryu is not on top of his game.

  6. yankee172 - Oct 10, 2013 at 1:36 AM

    Good article, thanks.

  7. Carl Hancock - Oct 10, 2013 at 1:49 AM

    So the Cards don’t have a chance because of Kershaw and Greinke? Funny. I remember the same thing was said when the Cardinals faces the Phillies formidable rotation in the 2011 NLDS. A rotation that was more formidable than the Dodgers with Roy Halladay (pre-decline), Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. We all know how that turned out. Sure the Cardinals don’t have Chris Carpenter this time, but they didn’t have Adam Wainwright when they faced the Phillies in that series. Nor did they have future aces, arguably current aces, in Michael Wacha and Shelby Miller. Wacha had started 6 big league games prior to his start against Pittsburgh and pitched 7 innings of no hit ball in a high pressure elimination game, this after coming within 1 out of a no hitter in his last start. The Dodgers may have Kershaw and Greinke but frankly Greinke is and always has been overrated. The Cardinals have more depth when it comes to pitching. Take the game Wacha won, he was followed by Carlos Martinez (another future ace) and Trevor Rosenthal. All of who. Are 23 or younger. Add in the fact their pitching staff is guided by the best catcher in baseball and I’d say I don’t care who the Cardinals face on the post-season, they can beat them. That doesn’t mean they are guaranteed to do so, nothing is guaranteed. Hell, the Giants have two World Series rings within the last few years with teams that simply weren’t all that great… but anything can happen in the playoffs and the Cardinals are more aware of that fact than anyone considering they made the playoffs as a wild card team in both of their last two World Series victories. This should be a great NLCS. It could go either way. Considering the Dodgers payroll is twice that of the Cardinals… TWICE… I’d say its obvious which organization is run better and has had the most success over the last 10 years. Hopefully that trend continues and the Cardinals show the Dodgers you don’t need a $200+ million dollar payroll to win.

    • bfunk1978 - Oct 10, 2013 at 7:59 AM

      The enter key is something you might want to read up on – it makes paragraphs and it’s awesome.

      There’s always a chance. But even the homerest of homer Cardinal fans knows that Grienke and Kershaw are pretty damn good and it’ll take a serious effort to beat them, just like it’ll take a serious effort to beat Wainwright or Miller or Wacha. But hey, this is the postseason. Serious effort or go home. Crazy things happen.

      • stlouis1baseball - Oct 10, 2013 at 1:44 PM

        Yep. Gonna’ take a lot work to beat Greinke, Kershaw, et al. No disputing that.

    • scruffmagee - Oct 10, 2013 at 12:15 PM

      “considering they made the playoffs as a wild card team in both of their last two World Series victories. ”

      The won the NLC in 2006

      • bfunk1978 - Oct 10, 2013 at 3:44 PM

        With only 83 wins it’s hard to remember that they were somehow the best team in an awful, awful division that year.

  8. jhaegs - Oct 10, 2013 at 1:56 AM

    S’go Birds! Maybe Freese just realized that it’s October, and decided to turn it on. Either way, the Cards have a solid lineup throughout, and hopefully Craig will be back soon.

    • pastabelly - Oct 10, 2013 at 8:26 AM

      You can certainly look at is as a tall order for the Cardinals to beat Greinke or Kershaw.

      You can also look at it as a tall order for the Dodgers to take two games on the road in St Louis to start the series.

      Maybe the most likely scenario is a split, with Wainwright then going to LA with the series tied at 1-1. You just don’t throw out aces and expect to win every game. In post season games, teams get a bit more resourceful in scratching for runs. St Louis has a great bullpen and that makes them very dangerous in any series. If bullpens make a difference, and they usually do, St Louis is not a major underdog this series.

  9. danh35 - Oct 10, 2013 at 8:55 AM

    It’s going to be a good series. The Cards seem to hit Kershaw well, they beat him twice this year and he gave up 6 runs in 13 innings to them this year. Grienke over his career has always pitched well against the Cards in the regular season, but when in the 2011 NLCS he gave up 11 runs in 11.2 innings pitched and in the 2011 NLDS he gave up 4 runs in 5 innings. He had a good game against the Braves in the NLDS, so maybe his postseason woes are behind him. If I’m the Cards, I pitch Miller and his good home splits in Game 1, Wacha Game 2, Wainwright in Game 3, and Kelly, who has been good on the road, in Game 4. Both teams have deep lineups and great pitching, I think this series is going 7 games.

  10. paperlions - Oct 10, 2013 at 9:39 AM

    Considering the weak links in the Dodger rotation, the article could just have easily focused on the fact that Kershaw and Greinke must come up big….because, you know, they do.

    • moogro - Oct 10, 2013 at 12:28 PM

      I agree. Dodgers get ice cold hitting sometimes, Cardinals never as much.

  11. jimsjam33 - Oct 10, 2013 at 12:18 PM

    Correction noted . Excellent analysis .

  12. scruffmagee - Oct 10, 2013 at 12:22 PM

    Honestly, I’m not conceding a win to the Dodgers when Kershaw is on the bump just yet. Here are his last 3 year stats against the Cardinals

    2011: 10.2 IP / 4.22 ERA / 13/7 k/bb / .293 BAA

    2012: 14.2 IP / 4.91 ERA / 8/3 k/bb / .241 BAA

    2013: 13.0 IP / 4.15 ERA / 10/5 k/bb / .265 BAA

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s going to be a hell of a game when he’s on the mound, but he’s not unbeatable by any stretch

  13. Anoesis - Oct 10, 2013 at 12:26 PM

    Why is St. Louis considered an underdog in any way? They have home-field advantage because of a better record. They won a tough division battle against two other playoff-caliber teams. They have “the best fans in baseball.”

    The Dodgers needed an extended stretch to even get back into their division, the “weakest” in baseball according to everyone (at least on here). The Dodgers have no recent playoff experience, in stark contrast to the Cardinals.

    St. Louis is #1 in postseason pitching (2.66 era vs. Dodgers’ 3.09) and has better fielding (.989 fpct. vs. .986, 53 assists vs. 40, 132 POs vs. 105, 2 errors each).

    The Cardinals “win the right way.” The Dodgers pee in pools. I’m a Bums fan and the notion the Cards are the underdogs is ludicrous.

  14. savior72 - Oct 10, 2013 at 1:14 PM

    Class has nothing to do with my comment. Alcohol does.

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 10, 2013 at 1:47 PM

      Lol! I appreciate your honesty 72.

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