Los Angeles Dodgers at St. Louis Cardinals (+104, 7)
Two of baseball's storied franchises square off when the St. Louis Cardinals host the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series. The Dodgers surged into contention with a ridiculous 42-8 stretch and haven't let up, bludgeoning the Atlanta Braves into submission in four games in the NL Division Series. Los Angeles also has a stellar rotation led by likely Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw and Game 1 starter Zack Greinke.
St. Louis advanced to its third straight NLCS - and eighth since 2000 - by outlasting Pittsburgh in five games behind ace Adam Wainwright, who will be unavailable until Game 3 in Los Angeles. The Cardinals can't match the muscle of the Dodgers but they have a deep and balanced lineup that led the NL in runs and doubles. Joe Kelly will start the opener for St. Louis, which won the final two games of the NLDS to improve to 8-1 in playoff elimination games since 2011.
TV: 8:37 p.m. ET, TBS
WEATHER: Temperatures in the mid 70s with partly cloudy skies and winds blowing south at 8 mph.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Dodgers RH Zack Greinke (0-1, 3.00 ERA) vs. RH Joe Kelly (0-0, 3.38)
Greinke went 15-4 with a 2.63 ERA in the regular season but lost the Dodgers' only game in the NLDS despite allowing two runs on four hits in six innings. He was 7-2 on the road but his ERA (3.21) was more than a run worst and batting average against (.263 against .207) was substantially higher than at Dodger Stadium. Greinke won at St. Louis on Aug. 5, allowing two runs on eight hits in 6 1/3 innings.
Kelly did not factor in the decision after giving up three runs in 5 1/3 innings of a Game 3 loss in Pittsburgh. Kelly went 10-5 with a 2.69 ERA during the regular season, including 10-2 as a starter after he was inserted into the rotation in early July. The 25-year-old Kelly was outstanding at home with a 5-1 record in eight starts, including 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball against the Dodgers on Aug. 6.
* Dodgers are 17-35 in the last 52 meetings in St. Louis.
* Cardinals are 36-15 in their last 51 home games.
* Dodgers are 35-16 in their last 51 road games.
* Over is 6-1 in Cardinals' last seven playoff games.
1. Los Angeles went 4-3 against the Cardinals during the regular season, winning three of four in St. Louis in early August.
2. SS Hanley Ramirez batted .500 and RF Yasiel Puig .471 while Carl Crawford and Juan Uribe combined to hit five homers as the Dodgers set an NL postseason series record with .333 team batting average versus Atlanta.
3. RF Carlos Beltran has been immense in the postseason with career totals of 16 homers and 31 RBIs in 39 games, but the Cardinals need more from 2B Matt Carpenter, who was 1-for-19 in the NLDS after collecting a league-high 199 hits in the regular season.