- Associated Press - Thursday, October 2, 2014

A look at the best-of-five National League Division Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers:

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Schedule:

(All times EDT) Game 1, Friday, at Los Angeles (6:37 p.m.); Game 2, Saturday, at Los Angeles (9:37 p.m.); Game 3, Monday, at St. Louis (TBD); x-Game 4, Tuesday, at St. Louis (TBD); x-Game 5, Thursday, at Los Angeles (TBD). (All games on FS1 or MLB Network)

x-if necessary.

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Season Series: Dodgers won 4-3.

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Projected Lineups:

Cardinals: 3B Matt Carpenter (.272, 8 HR 59 RBIs), CF Jon Jay (.303, 3, 46), LF Matt Holliday (.272, 20, 90), SS Jhonny Peralta (.263, 21, 75), 1B Matt Adams (.288, 15, 68), C Yadier Molina (.282, 7, 38), 2B Kolten Wong (.249, 12, 41, 20 SBs), RF Randal Grichuk (.245, 3, 8).

Dodgers: 2B Dee Gordon (.289, 2, 31, MLB-leading 64 stolen bases), CF Yasiel Puig (.296, 16, 69), 1B Adrian Gonzalez (.276, 27, MLB-leading 116), RF Matt Kemp (.287, 25, 89), LF Carl Crawford (.300, 8, 46), SS Hanley Ramirez (.83, 13, 71), 3B Juan Uribe (.311, 9, 54), C A.J. Ellis (.191, 3, 25).

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Projected Rotations:

Cardinals: RH Adam Wainwright (20-9, 2.38, 3 shutouts, 5 complete games), RH Lance Lynn (15-10, 2.74), RH John Lackey (14-10, 3.82 with Red Sox, Cardinals), RH Shelby Miller (10-9, 3.74).

Dodgers: LH Clayton Kershaw (21-3, major league-best 1.77 ERA), RH Zack Greinke (17-8, 2.71), LH Hyun-Jin Ryu (14-7, 3.38), RH Dan Haren (13-11, 4.02).

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Relievers:

Cardinals: RH Trevor Rosenthal (2-6, 3.20, 45/51 saves), RH Pat Neshek (7-2, 1.87, 6 saves), RH Seth Maness (6-4, 2.91, 3 saves) LH Sam Freeman (2-0, 2.61), RH Carlos Martinez (2-4, 4.03, 1 save), LH Randy Choate (2-2, 4.50), RH Michael Wacha (5-6, 3.20).

Dodgers: RH Kenley Jansen (2-3, 2.76, 44/49 saves), RH Brandon League (2-3, 2.57), LH Paco Rodriguez (1-0, 3.86), LH J.P. Howell (3-3, 2.39), RH Jamey Wright (5-4, 4.35).

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Matchups:

A rematch of last year’s league championship series won by the Cardinals in six games behind NLCS MVP Wacha, who beat Kershaw twice. This will be the teams’ fifth meeting in postseason, and third in the last six years. Cardinals are 3-1 … The Dodgers took three of four in Los Angeles in June, and the Cardinals took two of three in St. Louis in July. … The Dodgers outscored the Cardinals 17-4 in four home games, while each of the three games in St. Louis were decided by two runs or less. … The Dodgers are a healthier team heading into the playoffs compared to last year, when they were missing Kemp, Andre Ethier was slowed by a bad ankle and Ramirez broke a left rib after getting hit by a pitch in Game 1 of the NLCS and wasn’t the same for the remaining games. … Kershaw is favorite to win third Cy Young and dominated in winning both starts against St. Louis this season, allowing three runs and striking out 21 in 14 innings. … Carpenter is 3 for 6 against Kershaw this season, 9 for 35 (.257) with 10 BBs and 10 Ks overall. … Peter Bourjos is the only Cardinals player to homer off Kershaw this year. … Ethier has most success against Wainwright for Dodgers. He’s 10 for 39 (.256) with three homers and seven RBIs. … Puig led NL outfielders with 15 assists. … Will Molina be able to slow Gordon? The Cardinals catcher threw out nearly half the potential base stealers (21 of 44 runner) against him. Gordan led the majors with 64 steals but was thrown out 19 times.

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Big Picture:

Cardinals: St. Louis finished 90-72, two games ahead of Pittsburgh in the NL Central. Wainwright is among majors’ elite starters and was a no-doubt MVP for team that was on and off offensively, but he might have to beat Kershaw twice for Cardinals to advance. Wainwright will be well-rested, scratched from his start in the regular-season finale after the Pirates lost and St. Louis clinched its second straight Central crown. … Pitching staff is deep enough that Wacha won’t be in rotation given struggles to regain form after a lengthy DL stay from a shoulder injury. The 35-year-old Lackey has come on strong his last few starts and has big game bonafides, beating the Cardinals twice in World Series last fall with Boston. … The franchise is in the postseason for 10th time in 14 seasons. … In first full season as closer, Rosenthal was among majors’ best, giving hitters more to worry about than just a fastball that tickles triple digits. … Molina’s return for final month from torn thumb ligament was a plus, even though he wasn’t that productive at the plate. … Peralta is among majors’ best-hitting shortstops and had a big second half. … Cardinals were so-so on road, going 39-42.

Dodgers: Los Angeles (94-68) won the NL West by six games over San Francisco and begins the playoffs on a five-game winning streak. … The Dodgers have been one of baseball’s best hitting clubs in September, leading the majors with 156 runs scored. Powering the offense have been Crawford, Kemp and Gonzalez, who ended the regular season with 116 RBIs, three short of his career high set in 2008. … Manager Don Mattingly guided the Dodgers to a second consecutive division title. He is 354-293 in the regular season during the last four years. … The Dodgers’ win total has been up every year since he’s been at the helm. … Los Angeles swept St. Louis in the 2009 division series.

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Watch For:

- Ryu’s Shoulder. The Dodgers’ left-hander will make his first start - in Game 3 - since leaving an outing on Sept. 12 with shoulder irritation. He missed nearly a month earlier in the season with the same problem. In his first game back on May 21 against the Mets, Ryu pitched six innings and allowed two earned runs while striking out nine.

- Hot Hitters: With four days off before Game 1, the Dodgers might wonder whether their hot-hitting lineup can stay that way. Kemp has been tearing it up since the All-Star break after starting the season slowly. Gonzalez also struggled early, but has been a consistent run producer since the break.

- Deep Outfield. Grichuk was considered an afterthought in an offseason trade for outfielder Bourjos that sent 2011 postseason star David Freese to the Angels. The rookie has done well enough in his second stint to earn at least a platoon role with fellow rookie Oscar Taveras, considered the team’s top prospect. Jay was supposed to be the fourth outfielder and got a one-year deal, a wakeup call that’s prompted his strongest overall season. He’s stepped up particularly on defense.

- Closing it Out: Manager Mike Matheny had a pushbutton approach to the late innings, with Rosenthal leading staff with 73 appearances, Maness with 72 and Neshek with 71. Late in the year, all of them needed rest. The side-arming Neshek was a first-time All-Star and was nearly untouchable much of the year with ERA below 1.00 until late August, but had a loss and blown save his last two outings.

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