The two teams vying for the National League Championship are the same as last year, after the Los Angeles Dodgers swept the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Chicago Cubs outlasted the Washington Nationals.
One team will win four games and move on to the Major League Baseball’s World Series while the other will go home for a long winter of second guesses.
One big different between last year and this season, is the Dodgers are the ones carrying all the big numbers, and play into the NLCS, while last year the Cubs rampaged through the playoffs into the World Series.
Another big difference is Los Angeles holds home field advantage in this year’s NLCS, while the Cubs are coming off a hard-fought division series that lasted the full five games and on the road in Washington for the final game then a cross-country trip to play the Dodgers at Chavez Ravine in Game 1.
Due to the plane being diverted for a passenger illness and pilots going off duty for accumulated hours, the Cubs did not arrive in Los Angeles until Friday afternoon.
Chicago’s manager Joe Maddon has not yet decided or at least announced who will start Game 1. He will go with either Jose Quintana or John Lackey.
Los Angeles will start ace Clayton Kershaw in Game 1. The southpaw is well-rested and will be followed in Game 2 by Rich Hill, Game 3 by Yu Darvish and Game 4 by Alex Wood.
Corey Seager the star shortstop for the Dodgers has been hampered by a bad back, but should start Game 1 nonetheless.
Kershaw usually sees little rest prior to starting a playoff series, and the Dodgers hope they do not have to use him as much as they did a year ago during the same NLCS.
Last year the Dodgers were knocked out of the postseason by the Cubs and have had to wait until now for another chance at reaching the World Series.
Kershaw says the Dodgers are hungry to win the series as they did not get it done last season against Chicago.
Los Angeles has not won the World Series in 29 years and has not even played in the Fall Classic since their last win over the Oakland Athletics 29 seasons ago.
This is the 11th postseason appearance of the Dodgers since their last World Series win, and fifth straight but each time they have come up short.
This season, despite a big hiccup in late August and early September, it appears to be the Dodgers’ best chance to win it all.