The Los Angeles Dodgers have some major question marks in the starting rotation after their dynamic duo, but they're still worthy betting favorites in a best-of-five series vs. the Cardinals.
The biggest reason why St. Louis is a +163 underdog to capture this National League Division Series is its lack of offense during the regular season, as it scored 164 fewer runs than the previous season.
There’s no doubt that the Cardinals missed outfielder Carlos Beltran, who signed a contract with the New York Yankees during the offseason, while outfielder Matt Holliday is the only player on the roster that finished with more than 75 RBIs.
MLB handicappers will also find that the club dropped four of seven meetings with the Blue Crew this season—scoring just 14 total runs.
Benefiting From a Five-Game Series
The Dodgers have the best one-two punch in the Senior Circuit with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, which is important to consider when making your MLB picks in this matchup, but there’s plenty of question marks after those two spots.
Many baseball experts expect Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly to call upon Hyun-Jin Ryu to take the mound in Game 3 at Busch Stadium, but it all depends on how his throwing shoulder responds after throwing a 45-pitch simulated game Wednesday.
If this was a best-of-seven series, I’d be a lot more concerned with the team’s ability to move on, but the bullpen should be able to save the day due to Kershaw and Greinke’s ability to pitch deep into ballgames.
Need a Right-Hander?
The Cardinals are expected to go with a four-man rotation of right-handers in this series, with NL Cy Young Award candidate Adam Wainwright leading the way, as he ranked third in the league with a 2.38 ERA and 1.03 WHIP.
St. Louis has decided to not place Michael Wacha within that group, as he’s been dealing with shoulder issues throughout much of the season, which is a major blow due to his rise to stardom in last year’s postseason.
Mattingly has a lot of interchangeable pieces to work with when filling out a lineup card, which played a big role in the Dodgers leading the Majors in on-base percentage, while finishing behind only the Colorado Rockies in runs scored in the NL.
Carl Crawford and Dee Gordon are a dangerous combination at the top of the lineup—setting the table for Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez. Los Angeles will look to carry over its September’ success at the plate, as it led all of baseball in plating 156 runs over that period of time.
I’m going to recommend that readers back the Dodgers to advance to the NLCS as one of their MLB postseason plays, as the Cardinals have really struggled offensively in driving in runs, which won’t be helped in this situation with Beltran’s absence.
St. Louis does have one of the best defensive catchers in the game in Yadier Molina, but he’s lacked power at the plate since suffering a ligament terror in his right thumb during the regular season.
MLB Pick: Los Angeles Dodgers to win the series