The postseason happens. A team can have all the scouting reports, all the statistics and all the matchups on its side, and then Matt Adams or Matt Carpenter hits a home run against Clayton Kershaw.
The last time the Dodgers advanced to the World Series, in 1988, they fielded a lineup broadcaster Bob Costas described as “one of the weakest ever to take the field for a World Series.” Then Mickey Hatcher hit .368, Orel Hershiser had more hits than Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire combined and the Dodgers won.
So, with the warning that you never really know, a look at the players most likely to present themselves as a thorn in the Dodgers’ side during the National League playoffs:
OF J.D. Martinez: He hit four home runs in one game at Dodger Stadium last month. The Dodgers start three left-handers, and he hit .376 against left-handers. He led the major leagues in on-base-plus-slugging percentage against left-handers (1.356).
1B Paul Goldschmidt: He has 28 home runs against the Dodgers. He has no more than 18 against any other team.
P Robbie Ray: He was 3-0 with a 2.27 earned-run average against the Dodgers this season, with 53 strikeouts in 32 innings. The Diamondbacks won four of his five starts against L.A.; he gave up one run and struck out 13 batters in the loss. He batted .417 against the Dodgers, with five hits in 12 at-bats.
1B Anthony Rizzo: He’s a .357 hitter against Kershaw, and that does not count the home run he hit against the Dodgers’ ace in the decisive game of the NL Championship Series last October. In their only meeting this season, Rizzo had two hits against Kershaw, including a home run.
P Kyle Hendricks: He had an 0.71 ERA in last year’s NLCS, losing 1-0 to Kershaw and then beating him 5-0 in the decisive game. The Dodgers’ collective batting average against him, regular season only: .191.
P Jon Lester: He was the co-MVP of last year’s NLCS, posting a 1.38 ERA in the series. The Dodgers faced him twice this season, winning one and losing one. His career postseason ERA: 2.63.
UTILITY Howie Kendrick: He played for the Dodgers last season, and now a guy who mashes left-handed pitching faces a Dodgers team with three left-handed starters. Kendrick is a .400 hitter against Kershaw (six for 15) and a .313 hitter against the Dodgers.
2B Daniel Murphy: He’s the Dodgers’ annual October nightmare. In a 2015 division series, he hit .333 for the New York Mets, with three home runs in five games. In a 2016 NLDS, he hit .438 and reached base 12 times in 22 plate appearances.
P Stephen Strasburg: He was injured during last year’s NLDS, but he gave up one earned run and five hits in 12 innings against the Dodgers this season, with 18 strikeouts. His career ERA against the Dodgers: 2.44; at Dodger Stadium: 1.38.
1B Ryan Zimmerman: He batted .353 in last year’s NLDS against the Dodgers, and he is a .545 hitter against Rich Hill: six for 11 with two home runs. In six games against the Dodgers this season, he had three home runs, one against Kershaw.
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