With a series split against the New York Mets behind them, the Los Angeles Dodgers now welcome the St. Louis Cardinals to Dodger Stadium on Friday for the start of a three-game set.
The Dodgers of course have recent postseason history against both clubs, losing to Mets in five games of the 2015 National League Division Series, and dropping the 2014 NLDS and 2013 NL Championship Series to the Cardinals.
Friday’s series opener pits former Texas A&M teammates and college roommates Ross Stripling and Michael Wacha against one another.
Wacha takes the mound for his eighth start of the season, while it not only is Stripling’s seventh, but also just his seventh career Major League start. Naturally, there’s been some friendly banter exchanged between the two friends prior to their first head-to-head meeting, via ESPN’s Doug Padilla:
“Nothing crossing the line by any means,” Stripling said. “It was literally who was going to hit better off each other and who will buy what if somebody pitches better or gets a hit or whatever. Both of our girlfriends are in town, so we’ll go out, probably get some dinner, drinks afterward, and whoever beats the other will probably have to pay for it. Nothing crazy.”
Prior to making his MLB debut this season, Stripling received advice and words of encouragement from Wacha. The Dodgers’ fifth-round pick in the 2012 draft proceeded to throw 7.1 no-hit innings against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park.
Wacha, who is nearly two years younger than Stripling, was also taken in the 2012 draft — the Cardinals’ first-round selection at No. 19 overall. His ascent to the Majors was rapid, with Wacha earning MVP honors in the 2013 NLCS, and making the NL All-Star team last season.
Although Stripling hasn’t yet achieved similar success, in part due to a 2014 Tommy John surgery, he thus far has filled a critical need for the Dodgers at the back of their rotation.