On Deck will be here all season to provide you with everything you need to know (and a few things you don't) about every postseason series during the 2014 season.
The Teams: Two of baseball's most traditionally strong teams go at it with the Los Angeles Dodgers trying to break through with a money-laden roster that knows no ends when it comes to spending. The Cardinals are a far different team than the one that won the 2011 World Series, but they're still pretty salty.
Past 2014 Meetings: The Dodgers won the season series 4-3.
Pitching Matchups: Friday — Adam Wainwright (20-9, 2.38 ERA) vs. Clayton Kershaw (21-3, 1.77); Saturday — Lance Lynn (15-10, 2.74) vs. Zack Greinke (17-8, 2.71); Monday — John Lackey (14-10, 3.82) vs. Hyun-Jin Ryu (14-7, 3.38); Tuesday* — Shelby Miller (10-9, 3.74) vs. Dan Haren (13-11, 4.02); Thursday* — Wainwright vs. Kershaw.
What's Hot: Remember the name Oscar Taveras? He was the "other guy" in the baseball's top prospect derby with Jurickson Profar. Now, Taveras is carrying the Cardinals into the postseason by hitting .310 with a homer and six RBIs in his last 20 games. Veteran Matt Holliday has a team-high four homers over that time. Get a load of Wainwright's numbers over his last four starts: 4-0, 0.55 ERA, 26 Ks, four walks. Hey, that's pretty good.
The Dodgers' lineup is on all kinds of fire heading into this series, led by a couple of their big-name, high-priced veterans. Carl Crawford is hitting .435 with three homers and 16 RBIs over his last 19 games. Hanley Ramirez is right there with him, hitting .397 with 11 RBIs. No bat has been bigger than the rejuvenated Matt Kemp, who has eight homers and 23 RBIs in his last 22 games.
What's Not: Lackey, over his last four starts, is 1-2 with a 4.43 ERA, but he's still a postseason beast.
Aside from closer Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers' bullpen might be outmatched, and these days in the postseason, it's hard to win with an inferior bullpen.