The opening games in the two National League Division Series are set for tonight. First, the St. Louis Cardinals (100-62) will host the Chicago Cubs (97-65), and then the Los Angeles Dodgers (92-70) host the New York Mets (90-72).
The longtime rival Cubs and Cardinals are meeting in the postseason for the first time. During the regular season, St. Louis went 11-8 versus Chicago.
Cubs lefty Jon Lester (11-12, 3.34 ERA) faces Cards righty John Lackey (13-10, 2.77 ERA) in a matchup of former Red Sox teammates who combined for three wins when Boston beat St. Louis in the 2013 World Series.
Both pitchers capped off solid seasons by pitching well in September. Lester went 3-2 with a 2.36 ERA and Lackey was 2-1 with a 1.78 ERA. Lackey went 9-4 with a 1.93 ERA in 17 home starts.
The Mets-Dodgers game features a marquee pitching matchup of 2014 NL Rookie of the Year in the Mets’ Jacob deGrom (14-8, 2.54 ERA) against three-time Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw (16-7, 2.13 ERA).
In his only start this year against Los Angeles, deGrom pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings. Kershaw, who fanned 10 or more 13 times in 33 starts, went 10-1 with an ERA of 1.31 in the second half. That included a total of 141 strikeouts in 109 2/3 innings.
But Kershaw is just 1-5 with an ERA of 5.12 in 11 postseason games. In two NLDS starts versus St. Louis last October, he went 0-2 with an ERA of 7.82.
The Mets, in the postseason for the first time since 2006, went 4-3 against the Dodgers this year. The Mets last won the World Series in 1986 and Los Angeles in 1988.
Toronto loses again: Texas outlasted Toronto 6-4 today in 14 innings to take a 2-0 lead in that best of five AL Division Series. Through that game, home teams are 0-5 in the postseason and the AL East is 0-3 so far.