Think Different. Think Simon.

By Simon Liang
Daily Titan Asst. Sports EditorSimonresized

Playoff season for baseball has finally arrived – and boy, has it been one crazy month. The drama from the last-minute pennant races had me at the edge of my seat game after game.

Even though the Dodgers have the best record in the National League, they have been playing like a team with no purpose. It took them five games to close out the NL West with their magic number being one. The St. Louis Cardinals had a lackluster finish as well, losing seven of their last nine games.

In September, both teams were slumping; with the back end of the Dodgers’ starting rotation in a flux, and Cardinals’ closer Ryan Franklin slowing down with a 7.56 ERA.

The “Blue Crew” started the season off strong and came out of the gate with a bang. They held the league’s best records for most of the season, and played 50 games without Manny Ramirez.

They have relied on the young nucleus that General Manager Ned Colletti wisely kept intact. Outfielders Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp have become bona fide stars this season. Ethier is the MVP of the team, and his clutch play has been contagious.

Clayton Kershaw prepares to pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Clayton Kershaw prepares to pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals. Photo Courtesy MCT.

Starting pitchers Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw have been up and down; but when they want to turn it up, they both have ace potential.

With a solid bullpen, some trusty veterans like Casey Blake and Orlando Hudson and the addition of infielder Ronnie Belliard, Los Angeles has cooked up a winning formula.

Around this time last season, the Dodgers’ starters were lights out against the Chicago Cubs, but they no longer have Derek Lowe and Hiroki Kuroda is not in the mix. They will need to hope that Jon Garland or Vicente Padilla can get it done.

The Cardinals have relied on their two big arms throughout the season. Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright have been the two best pitchers in the NL all season and there is no disputing that. They have a combined 36 wins and 356 strikeouts. Can you say wow?

They remind me of the Curt Schilling-Randy Johnson duo that led the Arizona Diamondbacks to the 2001 World Series title. Yes, it’s quite a comparison, but I really haven’t seen a 1, 2 punch like this in quite some time.

And I still haven’t gotten to the most complete player in baseball, Albert Pujols. The guy plays great defense, hits for average and power, and so far he has been clean. What’s not to love about this guy?

After that, he has one of the best hitters in baseball protecting him: Matt Holliday. But the Cardinals’ one glaring weakness has to be their bullpen.

With Franklin being an exception, the guys before him have been mediocre at best. Expect this to be exposed in this series.

Chris Carpenter attempts to throw a strike. Photo Courtesy MCT

National League Cy Young candidate Chris Carpenter attempts to throw a strike. Photo Courtesy MCT

This series will come down to the sixth through ninth innings. Which team will execute in crunch time? Which team will fold under pressure?

I am choosing the Dodgers in five because:

1. Since the season started I felt like this is their year.

2. I believe Kershaw and Billingsley will shine under the bright lights.

3. The Dodgers’ bullpen will be dominating.

4. Joe Torre knows how to win in October.

5. I don’t know about you, but I am dying to see a Dodgers-Yankees World Series.

About Simon Liang