Padilla, Dodgers Look To Close Out Cardinals

NLDS: Cardinals vs. Dodgers
Dodgers Lead Series 2-0
Game 1 Dodgers 5, Cardinals 3
Game 2 Dodgers 3, Cardinals 2
Game 3 Today Busch Stadium 3:07pm
Game 4* Sun Busch Stadium 12:37pm
Game 5*   
Oct 13   
Dodger Stadium 6:37pm / 5:07pm
*if necessary All times Pacific
All games televised on TBS

The Dodgers have a 2-0 lead in a best-of-five series, but we need not look farther back than Game 2 to see that until the deed is done, there's no reason to celebrate just yet.  The Dodgers still have a lot of work to do, but they do in fact have a bid advantage.  After all, a bird in the hand is worth two in the Busch.

Vicente Padilla gets the honor of starting today, with an opportunity to send the Dodgers to the next round.  He has not faced the Cardinals since 2003.  All we know is that Padilla has made seven starts as a Dodger, and the Dodgers have won six games.  Padilla is 4-0 with a 3.20 ERA, a 3.40 FIP, and a 3.46 x-FIP as a Dodger.  He can join Jeff Weaver, Ronnie Belliard, and Mark Loretta in the group of unlikely Dodger heroes this postseason with a win.

Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright have rightfully shared the spotlight this season, but Joel Pineiro has had a fine season, finishing 9th in the league in FIP (3.31) and 11th in the league in x-FIP (3.76).  Pineiro doesn't strikeout anyone (just 4.4 per nine innings this season), but he limits walks and home runs like nobody's business.  Pineiro was brilliant on July 29 against the Dodgers, allowing just one run in eight innings.

What the Dodgers can hang their hat on against the mustachioed Pineiro (aren't they all?) is that for the last two months, he has pitched more like, well, Joel Pineiro.  In his final 12 starts of the season Pineiro was 6-3, but with a 4.64 ERA and a 4.68 FIP.

This is the first postseason start for both Padilla and Pineiro, meaning five of the six starting pitchers in this series were making their first postseason start.  Pineiro allowed one run in two innings of relief in his one playoff experience, in the 2001 ALCS against the Yankees.

The Cardinals have three hits in 22 at-bat with runners in scoring position so far this series.  The Dodgers aren't much better at 4-for-18, although those last two hits are the difference between a 1-1 series and a 2-0 Dodger lead.

The Dodgers are 0-5 all-time in playoff games in St. Louis (three in 1985, two in 2004).

Check out Xeifrank's simulation of today's game here.

Game Time: 3:07pm

TV: TBS (Dodgers are the first only game today, so no need to start with TNT)

Baseball Reference Game Three Preview

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