ST. LOUIS — Carpets were still drying out from a champagne bath and a few players looked bleary eyed after a workout at Busch Stadium. A day after advancing, there wasn’t much time to rest for the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Los Angeles Dodgers don’t have home-field advantage in the NL championship series, but they got a few extra days to savor early postseason success.
No telling which side will benefit, the team on a roll or the team coming off a break, entering Game 1 Friday night. Joe Kelly, who flourished as a replacement starter with St. Louis, opposes Zack Greinke in the opener.
The staff aces won’t go until later in the best-of-seven series, with the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw set for Game 2 and the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright ready for Game 3.
The Cardinals will again be without cleanup man Allen Craig, who was out of town Thursday seeing a specialist for his foot injury.
“They’re not going down easy,” manager Don Mattingly said before the Cardinals finished their series with Pittsburgh. “We felt like they were the best team in that division. They’re a good mix of everything.”
Beating the Atlanta Braves to wrap up their division series in four games Monday night gave the Dodgers extra rest and time to reset their rotation. They took Tuesday off.
The team hopes the layoff will benefit rookie pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu, who struggled in Game 3 against Atlanta, giving up four runs and six hits over three innings.
“I felt he was a little nervous the other day,” Mattingly said. “He did some things that he doesn’t usually do.”
Ryu has said he isn’t injured, but the left-hander’s performance wasn’t as solid as what he showed during the regular season.
“He claims he felt fine and he continues to say he had no type of injury,” general manager Ned Colletti said. “Everybody can have a bad start from time to time.”
The Dodgers will announce a new 25-man roster for the NLCS. Mattingly said spots were still being discussed.
Andre Ethier was limited to pinch-hitting duty against the Braves, but if his left ankle has healed sufficiently, he could play the outfield. He did some hitting during the workout.
“I still have to sleep tonight to see if it responds tomorrow,” Ethier said. “It feels good.”
Hanley Ramirez got some rest for a bad back that has slowed him at shortstop, but not at the plate.
Mattingly goes into the next round not knowing if he will be managing the Dodgers next season. The club’s new owners, including Mark Walter, Stan Kasten and Magic Johnson, didn’t guarantee his option for 2014 last offseason.
“I don’t want to speak about my contract,” he said. “It’s not the right time.”
Colletti said he wasn’t worried about Mattingly’s status, adding, “That will all resolve itself.”