The NLCS kicks off tonight with a battle of the two top seeds in the National League. The Cardinals are looking to erase an embarrassing collapse in the NLCS last year to the Giants. The Dodgers are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2009 and trying to get to their first World Series since 1988.
The stars are abundant in this series, but who is going to start things off with the best performance to be called the core performer of the night?
After getting passed over to start Game 4 of the NLDS in favor of Clayton Kershaw, Greinke gets the ball to kick things off in Round 2. Not a bad second option if you ask me. Greinke posted a 1.75 ERA for September and had a quality start of six innings and two earned runs in his one postseason start this year, even though he took the loss.
The Cardinals counter with Kelly, who has been excellent for St. Louis all year, finishing with a 10-5 record and a 2.69 ERA. Kelly, like Greinke, also lost his only postseason start this year, allowing two earned runs in 5.1 innings. Kelly also threw seven shutout innings in last year's playoffs with the exception of a two-run, .2-inning appearance in the deciding game against the Giants in the NLCS.
Ramirez has been absolutely on fire in the postseason. In four games, he's batting .500 with a home run and four doubles.
Beltran didn't have his best series ever against the Pirates, but when he made contact, he made it count. Of his four hits so far, two have been home runs and another has been a double. He has been responsible for six of the Cards' 21 runs.
Crawford has provided the most power for the Dodgers, including two solo jacks in the series-winning Game 4 against the Braves. If he can continue adding big hits for L.A., the Cardinals will be in trouble.
The St. Louis all-star had a terrific regular season, but his postseason so far has been extremely forgettable. He's 1-19 with a team-high six strikeouts. If the Cardinals want to be successful in this series, they're going to need Carpenter to break out of his slump and quickly. Will he make it a quick turnaround in Game 1?