Cole Hamels (0-0, -.--) vs. Clayton Kershaw (0-0, -.--).
Hey, they reset pitching stats after each round. Who knew? Anyhoo, it's time to put aside Dodger Divorce Thoughts and refocus on the here and now: 21-year-old Kershaw, who in two years has gone from callow rookie fireballer to grizzled (see above) NLCS Game 1 starter. Kershaw's left-handedness will come in handy against Subway pitchman Ryan Howard, although it won't necessarily give him the edge against Chase Utley and Raul Ibanez.
And if Kershaw needs a hand, we can expect to see Chad Billingsley out of the bullpen — a move he took graciously. "We're here to win games. We're not here for individual achievements," he said, and it makes you root for him that much more. (Additional roster updates: Hiroki Kuroda and Scott Elbert in, Jon Garland and NLDS Game 1 bullpen hero Jeff Weaver out.)
As for the Dodger hitters, they're big boys now. Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp are the boppers; Manny Ramirez is now a complementary piece, not the centerpiece. Rafael Furcal, Casey Blake and James Loney are the glue. Remember, this is the same lineup that outscored the Cardinals 13-6 in the three-game NLDS.
Hamels went 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA against the Dodgers in last year's NLCS, but don't expect those numbers again this year. Why? Call it the Brett Tomko Effect. (Plus, Hamels is a new daddy and therefore sleep-deprived. If he's not? Deadbeat dad.) Tell you what, Mr. Hamels: Prove us right and we'll rename this principle Cole's Law. Get it? HA HA HA
Kershaw 1: AP photo; Kershaw 2: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images; Kemp: Mark J. Terrill/AP