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SI.com's experts pick winners for NLCS and ALCS

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To reach a second straight World Series, Prince Fielder and the Tigers must win at least one game at Fenway Park.

The National League Championship Series starts Friday, Oct. 11 and features the St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The American League Championships Series begins on Saturday, matching the Boston Red Sox against the Detroit Tigers. SI.com's baseball experts -- Tom Verducci, Albert Chen, Ben Reiter, Joe Lemire, Jay Jaffe, Cliff Corcoran, Joe Sheehan, Stephen Cannella and Ted Keith -- weigh in with their picks below.

Tom Verducci

NLCS: Cardinals over Dodgers in 7

St. Louis' lineup can wear down the non-Clayton Kershaw Dodgers starters in what figures to be very closely played series. The difference is Adam Wainwright getting the ball for the Cardinals in Game 7.

ALCS: Red Sox over Tigers in 6

Boston has been a terrific home team and opens the series at home, with more rest, less travel and more hitters who hit good pitching than the Tigers.

Albert Chen

NLCS: Cardinals in 7

Michael Wacha will beat Clayton Kershaw in one of their head-to-head starts, and two very evenly matched teams will go the distance -- which means Adam Wainwright will pitch in Game 7 at Busch Stadium. Which means edge, St. Louis.

ALCS: Red Sox in 6

Boston's offense was particularly good against righthanders (.818 OPS, best in majors), and it will face Detroit's all-righthanded rotation. It's hard to pick against the Tigers with Justin Verlander back to vintage form, but the Red Sox look like the best team left in the tournament.

Ben Reiter

NLCS: Dodgers in 5

The Cardinals needed every bit of Adam Wainwright to get past the Pirates, and that means that he won't be available until Game 3 of the NLCS. Even with the emergence of Michael Wacha (or, as his new biggest fan Pedro Martinez calls him, "Makka Wakka"), that's a huge disadvantage for St. Louis, especially as the Dodgers will throw Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw in Games 1 and 2. I don't anticipate Wainwright making more than one start.

ALCS: Tigers in 7

The last time these teams played, on Sept. 4, the Red Sox eked out a 20-4 victory -- but Detroit started that game with Rick Porcello, a reliever for the playoffs, and finished it with two guys who aren't with the team anymore. Despite that blowout, the Tigers handled the Red Sox well during the regular season, winning four of seven games overall. If they do that again in this series, they'll head to a second straight World Series.

Joe Lemire

NLCS: Cardinals in 7

St. Louis, which was baseball's best situational hitting and least homer-dependent club in the majors, will rise to the moment in what figures to be a run-starved series of pitchers' duels.

ALCS: Tigers in 7

Detroit's higher-ceilinged rotation will prevail while its lineup -- second only to Boston's in runs this season -- scores just enough to outlast the Red Sox.

Jay Jaffe

NLCS: Dodgers in 6

There's reason to be concerned about what Los Angeles will get out of Hyun-Jin Ryu and Ricky Nolasco, but the ability to send Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw to the mound four times in six games and the possibility of Andre Ethier's return against a righty-heavy staff is the difference.

ALCS: Red Sox in 6

His homer in ALDS Game 5 aside, I'm still not convinced that Miguel Cabrera is healthy. While Detroit's offense is in a funk, Boston's bats are looking powerful, and they'll roll up runs against the Tigers' lousy defense in Fenway.

NLCS Series Preview: Cardinals vs. Dodgers - Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated's Ted Keith and Stephen Cannella preview the National League Championship Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers.

Cliff Corcoran

NLCS: Cardinals in 7

This matchup is close enough that it should go seven, and if that happens, the Cardinals will have Adam Wainwright starting at home against someone who is not Clayton Kershaw. The key to getting to Game 7, however, will be Michael Wacha helping St. Louis win an earlier game that Kershaw does start. He will.

ALCS: Tigers in 6

The Red Sox have the most potent offense in baseball, but with Justin Verlander having rediscovered his Cy Young form over the last month, Detroit's rotation is just too good to overcome in a best-of-seven series. Besides, the Tigers were my preseason pennant pick. I'm not undermining that now.

Joe Sheehan

NLCS: Dodgers in 6

These are closely matched teams, and the difference comes down to the Dodgers being able to use Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw four times in six games, while Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright can go just once -- on full rest, anyway -- in that time. The Cards' shallow bench will bite them in this series as well.

ALCS: Tigers in 7

There's been a trend in our strikeout-heavy era: The team with the better contact rate has won 15 of the last 18 postseason series since 2011, and 25 of 32 since 2009. I'll ride that trend here -- the Tigers were first in MLB, the Red Sox 22nd -- to separate two terrific teams, one with an amazing rotation, the other with a deep and talented offense.

Stephen Cannella

NLCS: Dodgers in 6

The Cardinals have one starter who might outpitch Clayton Kershaw. Alas, Adam Wainwright won't face the Dodgers ace, so L.A. essentially starts the series up 2-games-to-0. Wainwright is lined up for Game 7 -- but as long as Carl Crawford keeps hitting at the top of the lineup the way he did in the NLDS, the Dodgers won't let the Cards get that far.

ALCS: Red Sox in 7

Strength against strength: The Red Sox get on base more than any other AL team, and the Tigers keep runners off base better than everyone but the A's and Rays. Tampa Bay couldn't avoid death by Boston's wear-'em-down offense, though Detroit's strikeout-happy staff will come closer -- and Justin Verlander is lined up to be their savior in Game 7. But here's where Boston's homefield advantage will be key: In his last four starts at Fenway Park Verlander had a 4.85 ERA and the Tigers were 0-4. After Game 7, it will be 0-5.

Ted Keith

NLCS: Dodgers in 6

The Cardinals had the best record in the league but the Dodgers have the superior pitching staff, one that ranked second in the NL in ERA, strikeouts, opponents' OPS and batting average against. Combine that with an offense featuring the hot-hitting Carl Crawford, Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig and Los Angeles will ensure it never has to worry about facing Adam Wainwright at Busch Stadium in Game 7.

ALDS: Red Sox in 6

Baseball's best offense is deep, balanced and hammers righthanded pitching, and thus perfectly suited to wear down the endless parade of righties the Tigers will use in this series. Add in the ability to start -- and finish -- this series at Fenway Park, where they had the best home record in the American League, and Boston will be advancing to the World Series for the first time in six years.

More League Championship Series coverage

Complete LCS schedule, including start times and TV listings

VERDUCCI: The key factors in the blueblood-heavy ALCS and NLCS

REITER: These four teams prove yet again that payrolls matter in October

LEMIRE: Breaking down Red Sox vs. Tigers

CORCORAN: Expect Cardinals and Dodgers to go the distance in NLCS

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