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For those who like nonstop chatter about how differently the teams were constructed, this is the series or you. Expect to hear about the Cardinals' homegrown ways and how they contrast with the free-spending Dodgers. There's a solid chance that talking point gets annoying by the second or third game; luckily, the games should be fun regardless of the predictable narratives.

Projected Lineups (AVG/OBP/SLG/TAv)

LF-L Carl Crawford (.283/.329/.407/.274)
2B-R Mark Ellis (.270/.323/.351/.261)
SS-R Hanley Ramirez (.345/.402/.638/.364)
1B-L Adrian Gonzalez (.293/.342/.461/.294)
RF-R Yasiel Puig (.319/.391/.534/.334)
3B-R Juan Uribe (.278/.331/.438/.282)
CF-L Skip Schumaker (.263/.332/.332/.242)
C-R A.J. Ellis (.238/.318/.364/.266)

The Dodgers finished ninth in the league in True Average, two spots ahead of the Cardinals. The similarities between the lineups extend beyond their regular-season numbers: Both are missing a star-level performer and have a hole near the bottom of their order. It's probably worth noting the Dodgers have, at least statistically, the top two batters in the series, in Ramirez and Puig.

2B-L Matt Carpenter (.318/.392/.481/.310)
RF-S Carlos Beltran (.296/.339/.491/.288)
LF-R Matt Holliday (.300/.389/.490/.297)
1B-L Matt Adams (.284/.335/.503/.289)
C-R Yadier Molina (.319/.359/.477/.296)
CF-L Jon Jay (.276/.351/.370/.261)
3B-R David Freese (.262/.340/.381/.250)
SS-L Daniel Descalso (.238/.290/.366/.240)

The Cardinals lack the elite top-end the Dodgers have, but are reasonably well-balanced over their top five batters. Should Carpenter's struggles in the Divisional Series continue, Mike Matheny might have to find a new leadoff hitter. Matheny changed lineups early last round, moving Jay down in the order, so don't treat these lineups as if they are set in stone.

Projected Benches (AVG/OBP/SLG/TAv)

C-R Tim Federowicz (.231/.275/.356/.215)
OF-L Andre Ethier (.272/.360/.423/.285)
INF-L Dee Gordon (.234/.314/.298/.238)
INF-S Nick Punto (.255/.328/.327/.237)
1B/OF-R Scott Van Slyke (.240/.342/.465/.288)
INF-R Michael Young (.279/.335/.395/.250)

Ethier is a wild card. The Dodgers suggested he could increase his role this series after serving as a pinch-hitter during the divisional round.

C-R Tony Cruz (.203/.240/.293/.175)
INF-R Pete Kozma (.217/.275/.273/.201)
INF-R Ryan Jackson (.000/.000/.000/.008 in seven PA)
OF-L Adron Chambers (.154/.241/.192/.185 in 29 PA)
OF-R Shane Robinson (.250/.345/.319/.257)

There was some optimism that Allen Craig could rejoin the club for the series. That doesn't appear likely now, however, so the Cardinals will move forward with a weak-hitting bench

Projected Starting Pitchers (IP/ERA/FIP)

RHP Zack Greinke (177.2/2.63/3.20)
LHP Clayton Kershaw (236.0/1.83/2.36)
LHP Hyun-jin Ryu (192.0/3.00/3.21)
RHP Ricky Nolasco (199.1/3.70/3.32)

The Dodgers' decision to use Clayton Kershaw in Game Four of the Divisional Series all but decided their Game One and Two probables for them. Greinke and Kershaw were always starting the first two games anyway. From there Ryu will make his second postseason appearance. Nolasco didn't pitch in the Divisional Series, and it'll be interesting to see how long his leash is in Game Four.

RHP Joe Kelly (124, 2.69, 3.98)
RHP Michael Wacha (64.2, 2.78, 2.90)
RHP Adam Wainwright (241.2, 2.94, 2.52)
RHP Lance Lynn (201.2, 3.97, 3.25)

It's Kelly, not Lynn, getting the Game One start. Wacha, arguably the breakout star from the Divisional Series for the Cardinals, receives the nod in Game Two. The short turnaround between series means Wainwright won't start until Game Three and is limited to two starts. Lynn, meanwhile, will try to make a good postseason start for the first time in his career. Another failure and the Cardinals might have to reconsider his position in the rotation should they advance.

Projected Bullpens (IP/ERA/FIP)

RHP Kenley Jansen (76.2/1.88/1.96)
LHP Paco Rodriguez (54.1/2.32/3.06)
RHP Brian Wilson (13.2/0.66/2.00)
RHP Ronald Belisario (68.0/3.97/3.61)
RHP Chris Withrow (34.2/2.60/3.54)
LHP J.P. Howell (62.0/2.03/2.86)
LHP Chris Capuano (105.2/4.26/3.52)

Howell and Rodriguez are lefties, but both were effective against righties this season, so Don Mattingly doesn't have to chase matchups this series.


RHP Trevor Rosenthal (75.1, 2.63, 1.88)
RHP John Axford (65, 4.02, 4.31)
RHP Edward Mujica (64.2, 2.78, 3.69)
RHP Seth Maness (62, 2.32, 3.41)
LHP Randy Choate (35.1, 2.29, 2.54)
LHP Kevin Siegrist (39.2, 0.45, 2.26)
RHP Carlos Martinez (28.1, 5.08, 3.06)
RHP Shelby Miller (173.1, 3.06, 3.64)

The Cardinals can throw power arm after power arm at teams in the late innings.

The Dodgers hold the edge over the Cardinals when it comes to defense. Los Angeles ranked ninth league-wide in defensive efficiency, including the second-highest rate of turning groundballs into outs. Of course the first ranking came without Skip Schumaker manning center field, so make of it what you will. The Cardinals, on the other hand, ranked 21st in defensive efficiency, though that rank was earned with Craig at first base most days.

Don Mattingly, whose job security appeared limited earlier in the season, is as old school as his nickname. Mattingly is likely to draw ire for his fondness toward the bunt and the intentional walk. Yet, even though he likes to interrupt the flow of play at times, he's not one to call for many stolen bases or hit-and-run attempts. Likewise, Mattingly seldom uses his bench to pinch-hit or pinch-run, and given his roster, it's not like he's forced to do so often.

Mike Matheny is fortunate: two seasons as manager, two postseason appearances. Matheny lets his team's talent do most of the work, and rarely calls for a hit-and-run, steal, or bunt attempt. Being a former catcher himself, he's not opposed to visiting the mound in spots usually reserved for pitching coaches. Likewise, Matheny lets his pitchers work deep into ballgames, as he finished third in 120-plus pitch appearances, behind Jim Leyland and Mike Scioscia. Matheny has a talented roster, so letting that talent dictate the game isn't a bad idea.

This is a tough one. It's as hard to go against the Dodgers rotation as it is to bet against the Cardinals. Either way, we're probably looking at an extended series.

PECOTA has the Dodgers as overwhelming favorites in this series. The algorithm could be underselling the Cardinals' rookies, so St. Louis fans needn't panic yet.

Advance Reports
Matt Carpenter
Adrian Gonzalez
Yasiel Puig

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Do you have any thoughts about the Cardinals' struggles against left handed pitching this season and how that might shift the balance with the potential for 4 games vs LHP?
Re: "The Cardinals lack the elite top-end the Dodgers have" -

I'm not sure I agree. If you think the past 300 PA's are the best indicator of a player's talent, then sure, Hanley Ramirez is the most elite player on both teams, and Puig and Holliday would finish in a dead heat. But if you think the last 500-1000 PA's are a better indicator of talent, then the Cardinals actually have MORE top-end hitting talent than the Dodgers (with Molina, Holliday, Beltran, and Carpenter trumping Ramirez, Puig, and whomever else you'd like to put up there for the Dodgers).
Unless there's a change in skill set, then there's no need for a larger sample size. Hanley's shoulder hadn't recovered from surgery until this offseason.
Okay, I'll grant you that Ramirez is probably the most devastating hitter on either team, but you could make a pretty compelling case that the Cards have 4 of the next 5 top hitters on either team. Hence the confusion about the Cards lacking the elite top-end hitting that the Dodgers supposedly have.
The prediction paragraph seems to come to a premature end.
Fixed, thanks.
Yeah I didn't get the "more top end elite talent" on the Dodgers comment. Cardinals have a good 4 hitters better than Ramirez over the course of 2 years, and Puig (But it's hard to count him since he's only played half a season, so that's not entirely comparable)