Thursday, October 10, 2013

Greinke vs. Kelly, Kershaw vs. Wacha open the NLCS

The Cardinals put away the Pirates in the deciding Game 5 of the NLDS on Wednesday night, 6-1.  The win also gives the Cards home field advantage in the NLCS, as the Dodgers will be opening on the road once again.

What is good news for the Dodgers, however, is that Adam Wainwright won't be going until Game 3 on Monday.  He was fantastic on Wednesday, going the distance in throwing 107 pitches.  Both Don Mattingly and Mike Matheny have announced the starters for the first couple of games in St. Louis:

Game 1 - Friday, October 11, 8:37 ET
Zack Greinke (15-4, 2.63) vs. Joe Kelly (10-5, 2.65)

Game 2 - Saturday, October 12, 4:07 ET
Clayton Kershaw (16-9, 1.83) vs. Michael Wacha (4-1, 2.78)

It's this time of year when the Dodgers are so happy they shelled out the dough in the offseason for Greinke.  Suppose Greinke wasn't there or was hurt, then I highly doubt we would've seen Kershaw start on three days' rest against the Braves in the NLDS.  A loss there would've meant someone like Ricky Nolasco in Game 5.  Now, since the Dodgers won, they can push Kershaw back to regular rest for Game 2 of the NLCS, while watching their other ace go Game 1.  It works out for all.

Plus, the pressure is definitely on the Cardinals to win Game 1.  Imagine if they lose that game, then they have to turn around less than a day later and face the soon-to-be Cy Young winner in Kershaw.  Yikes, that's pretty scary. 

Maybe the Dodgers are secretly happy to have Greinke go in the first game for a couple of reasons.  One, if they win, they then give the ball to Kershaw and can steal two games on the road.  Two, if Greinke loses, their fallback option is Kershaw.  Not a bad guy to get you back into a series.

Since this is October, though, in no way should anyone fall asleep on the Cardinals' starters.  Kelly and Wacha have more than proven themselves this season, even in limited starts.  Wacha's last two starts have been insane, as he's carried no-hitters into the ninth and eighth innings, respectively.  It's hard to top that.

As for Game 3, we do know that Wainwright will take the hill, but Mattingly hasn't tipped his hand yet.  Hyun-Jin Ryu is one candidate, but he was pretty ineffective in his Game 3 start against the Braves, not making it into the fourth.  Nolasco got bumped for Kershaw in the clinching Game 4, so if anything, he's fresh.

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