The Dodgers will welcome the National League's top team on Friday, as manager Don Mattingly's club tries to continue to right the ship after a series win in Milwaukee.
Amid high expectations, the Dodgers enter the opener against the Cardinals sporting a 19-26 record and in last place in the NL West.
"The biggest frustration as a manager is that you don't have a chance to go out and do anything about it," Mattingly said. "At some point, your hands are tied."
Despite their struggles, the Dodgers managed to pick up a series victory over the Brewers, with a dominating 9-2 victory on Wednesday behind a five-run second inning.
But the Cardinals enter the three-game series with baseball's best record at 30-16 and pose a much larger threat than the Brewers, who are the NL Central's last-place team.
Dodgers batting coach Mark McGwire will face his former employer for the first time since he left St. Louis in November for the same position in Los Angeles. McGwire, who slugged 220 home runs with the Cardinals from 1997-2001, was the hitting coach in St. Louis for three seasons.
Skip Schumaker will also face the Cardinals for the first time since the organization traded him to the Dodgers in December. The second baseman/outfielder debuted with the Cardinals in 2005 and spent eight seasons with St. Louis.
Before facing the Cardinals' two rookie starters in John Gast and Shelby Miller, the Dodgers must contend with Friday starter Lance Lynn, who is 6-1 on the season with a 3.27 ERA.
Lynn tossed fewer than seven innings for the first time in six starts during his last outing on May 18 against the Brewers. After making a career-high 124 pitches in his prior start, Lynn exited after five inings with four earned runs on five hits and two walks with a season-low 89 pitches.
"Everything seems to be coming together and that's what you ask for," Lynn said. "I would have liked to have pitched better today to help us win the game, but everyone else picked up the slack."
Chris Capuano will oppose Lynn. The Dodgers left-hander wasn't in the rotation plans to start the season, but injuries have returned him to where he won 12 games last season. Capuano is 1-2 with a 4.84 ERA, but has tossed back-to-back quality starts.
Capuano allowed just one earned run on five hits and struck out seven in a win against the Miami Marlins on May 12 and allowed another earn run on five hits while striking out five in 7 1/3 innings at Atlanta on May 18.
Dodgers: Van Slyke starts strong for Ethier
Mattingly benched right fielder Andre Ethier for the series finale against the Brewers on Wednesday in order to field a club "that is going to fight, to compete the whole day."
The club that took the field on Wednesday competed just fine, as the Dodgers won the rubber game, 9-2, at Miller Park, while racking up 12 total hits in the series victory.
Rookie Scott Van Slyke started in place of Ethier and went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and two RBIs.
Through 20 at-bats in eight appearances this season, Van Slyke has hit .300 with three home runs and six RBIs, while striking out four times.
Van Slyke's father, Andy, made his Major League debut with the Cardinals in 1983, and the utility man played four seasons with St. Louis during a 13-year career.
Cardinals: Garcia to have shoulder surgery
Left-hander Jaime Garcia is scheduled to undergo season-ending surgery on his left shoulder to repair a labrum tear on Friday. The decision was made after a visit with Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday.
Team physician George Paletta will perform the surgery. The Cardinals' medical staff hasn't ruled out Garcia being fully recovered by Spring Training.
"It wasn't surprising at all," manager Mike Matheny said of the diagnosis. "We anticipated that was the direction he was going to go. I think it will be a relief for him to go in and get it cleaned up and be able to move forward and have a healthy Spring Training."
Garcia went on the disabled list on Sunday with increasing amounts of pain in his last three starts. He went 5-2 with a 3.58 ERA in nine starts.
• Cardinals third baseman David Freese is expected to return to the lineup on Friday, despite not playing since being spiked near his right thumb on Sunday and needing three stitches.
• Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon is 0-for-20 over his last seven games with eight strikeouts.
• Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday is 10-for-27 (.370) in his career against Capuano with two homers and four RBIs.
Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.