The National League Wild Card Game on Wednesday brings together two of the proudest franchises in baseball history, as the Los Angeles Dodgers will host the St. Louis Cardinals.
Few would have predicted such a matchup in the Wild Card Game before the season, but it’s the one we got. Not surprisingly, the Dodgers are huge favorites with a -225 moneyline while the Cardinals have a moneyline of +185.
The Dodgers did their best to chase down the Giants for the NL West crown but fell one game short. Despite falling a little short, the Dodgers won 12 of their final 14 games to end the season. With 106 wins, Los Angeles is not your ordinary Wild Card team.
Of course, one could say the same about the Cardinals, who won 17 straight games in September, coming out of nowhere to earn a playoff spot.
Granted, some of that momentum could have faded away with the Cards going 2-3 over the last week since the streaked ended. But the confidence that St. Louis built up during that stretch shouldn’t fade too quickly.
The Wainwright Stuff
The Cardinals have to feel good about being able to send Adam Wainwright to the mound in Wednesday’s game. Despite turning 40 in August, Wainwright was 17-7 with a 3.05 ERA over 32 starts this year. He also owns a 2.89 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP over 109 career innings in the postseason.
Alas, facing the Dodgers won’t be an easy task for Wainwright. The Los Angeles lineup averaged nine runs per game over the final five games of the regular season, catching fire at the right time.
The likes of Trea Turner, Corey Seager, and AJ Pollock were incredible down the stretch, while Justin Turner, Max Muncy, Mookie Betts, and youngster Gavin Lux also pose a threat.
To the Max
Max Scherzer will get the nod for the Dodgers in Wednesday’s must-win game. Fittingly, he’s gone 7-0 with a 1.98 ERA over his 11 starts since being traded to the Dodgers. But while he boasts plenty of postseason experience, Scherzer has allowed ten earned runs on 17 hits across 10.1 innings over his last two starts, so something could be off with him.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals have cooled off a little over the last week, scoring just 15 total runs over their final five regular-season games. But the Cards do have three players in Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, and Tyler O’Neill, who hit over 30 homers this year.
The likes of Dylan Carlson, Harrison Bader, and Yadier Molina also give the St. Louis lineup a fair amount of depth.
From a betting perspective, the Cardinals have a lot more value in this game because they are such heavy underdogs and have Wainwright on the mound. The fact that Scherzer has looked terrible in his last two starts also adds some uncertainty to this matchup, even if he has a strong track record against most of the St. Louis lineup.
In the end, it’s tough to go against the defending champs and a team that won 106 games this year, so bet on the Dodgers to survive the Wild Card Game and advance.
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