LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers kicking off the 2009 National League Division Series on Wednesday against the Cardinals are generally viewed as a team that all season has generated maximum collective results from minimal individual star turns. For instance, they forged the NL's top record without a .300-hitting regular or without anyone scoring 100 runs.
But perhaps nothing speaks to the Dodgers' make-do personality more than the fact they are only the third team in Major League history to make the postseason without having a pitcher win more than 12 games.Interestingly, their Division Series opponents figured prominently in the first two instances. Potential Game 4 starter Chad Billingsley topped the Dodgers' staff with 12 wins and was followed by 11-game winner Randy Wolf -- in fact, the only other member of Los Angeles' extended rotation in double figures. How remarkable is the Dodgers' accomplishment under Rick Honeycutt, manager Joe Torre's pitching lieutenant? The most recent club to make it to October with a 12-game winner as high man was the 2006 Padres, led by Woody Williams' 12 wins. Those Padres, however, had three others in double figures: 11-game winners Jake Peavy, Clay Hensley and Chris Young. Even with all that, San Diego banked only 88 wins. These Dodgers led the NL with 95. The pioneers in this most-with-the-least trend set a tough precedent to follow: The 1987 Cardinals' top gun had 11 wins (Danny Cox, Greg Mathews and Bob Forsch tied at that) -- yet those Redbirds paced the league with 95 wins, then took the Twins down to Game 7 of the World Series. San Diego dropped the 2006 NLDS to St. Louis in four games, being dominated in Games 1 and 4 by Chris Carpenter. Carpenter, who missed both of the intervening seasons with elbow and shoulder injuries, is the once-again ace of the Cardinals. He will start Game 1 vs. the Dodgers and, if required, make an encore start in Game 5.