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NLCS Game 1 Preview and Open Thread

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The Dodgers are now the NL's last hope for a Cardinals-free World Series.

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

The Division Series round wrapped up less than 24 hours ago, but we're moving on to the next round tonight.

At 7:30 at Busch Stadium Joe Kelly (2.69 ERA, 4.01 FIP) will take the mound for the Cardinals, and the fact that he's pitching Game 1 of a postseason series probably isn't something most people would've predicted in March. He pitched in Game 3 of the NLDS against the Pirates on Sunday, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits over 5.1 innings. He walked four and struck out five in his first postseason start.

Even counting his earlier postseason start, Kelly has only taken the ball to open a game in 16 of his 38 appearances this season. He's only been starting regularly in the majors since July 6, but has posted a 2.18 ERA over 86.2 innings over that time. He'll throw a mid-90's fastball (like every minor leaguer in the Cardinals organization, apparently) to go with a changeup and slider.

Kelly made a start and a relief appearance against the Dodgers during the season, allowing three runs on eleven hits over 8.1 innings. No current Dodgers have faced him ten times or more.

He'll face familiar foe Zack Greinke (2.63 ERA, 3.23 FIP), who also started Game 1 against the Cardinals when the Brewers were in the NLCS two years ago. Greinke pitched six innings in Game 2 of the NLDS on Friday, allowing two runs on four hits over six innings with no walks and three strikeouts.

After missing time for his broken collarbone earlier this year, Greinke only amassed 177.2 innings during the regular season. His strikeout rate was also down a little (7.5 per nine innings, down from 8 career and 8.5 last season) but his walk rate held steady at 2.3/9. His velocity also dipped a bit, with his fastball sitting at 91.7 mph after being as high as 93.5 in 2010.

Greinke faced the Cardinals once in August, holding them to two runs on eight hits over 6.1 innings with a walk and four strikeouts. Six active Cardinals have faced him ten times or more:

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Matt Holliday 28 26 9 0 0 2 4 2 2 .346 .393 .577 .970
Jon Jay 24 22 6 0 0 0 0 1 2 .273 .304 .273 .577
Yadier Molina 24 22 7 2 0 0 3 1 2 .318 .333 .409 .742
David Freese 21 18 6 1 0 1 3 2 3 .333 .429 .556 .984
Daniel Descalso 11 11 2 1 0 0 1 0 2 .182 .182 .273 .455
Carlos Beltran 10 7 1 1 0 0 1 2 2 .143 .333 .286 .619
Total 134 120 35 6 0 3 12 9 17 .292 .344 .417 .760
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/11/2013.

It's time for lineup tweets! First, the Dodgers:

And for the Cardinals:

The forecast calls for a beautiful night for baseball in St. Louis, with a game-time temperature around 73 dropping into the upper 60s as the game goes along.

Enjoy the game!