The Look Ahead – NL Wildcard

NL: St. Louis Cardinals @ Los Angeles Dodger’s, 8:10 first pitch

Pitching Probable’s:  Wainwright (St) vs. Scherzer (LA)

After a surprising under-performance from Gerrit Cole and the Yankees offense last night the AL Divisional round is set. Before the magic of that kicks off,  however, The NL has its own Wildcard showing tonight as the Dodgers play host to the Cardinals. As always feel free to comment on social and let @SportsShiftMedia know your thoughts as the game gets underway.

The Dodgers come into this contest as universal favorites but hold the most to lose. It sounds silly on the surface and might play out to be silly in the long run, but the 106 win 2021 Dodgers are coming off of a disappointing season. Coming into the season on paper this was a team many picked to not only win the division but also contend for the 116 game single season wins record (held by both the 2001 Seattle Mariners and 1906 Chicago Cubs). World Series wasn’t just a goal, it was the do-or-die story of this team from the first time “Play ball” was echoed throughout Chavez Ravine. The Dodgers did not win the West. Instead, the cross state rival Giants take the West by one game on game 162. What this sets up is one of the more important games for this franchise in recent memory: win and move on or lose and condemn the 2020 Championship, along with any notion that this Dodger group is a dynasty. Such is the life of the modern day Boys in Blue.

The Cardinals on the other hand have nearly nothing to lose and everything to gain. By the trade deadline large portions of the baseball world (including myself) had written off the Cards as a .500 at best ball club with no chance at a Postseason berth. We were outright wrong. Riding a second half surge that included a 17-game winning streak the Cardinals trampled their way into possession of the second NL Wildcard spot and are now on the verge of a something truly special.

Max Scherzer will take the mound tonight for the Dodgers with the season on the line. The man with the multi-colored eyes and known by the nickname “Mad Max” did what he always does this season; dominated – 30 starts, 179.1 innings and 236 k’s. He posted an ERA that has become the norm for him at 2.46 and an incredible 0.864 WHIP. The first-ballet HOFer’s Postseason numbers sit at a stellar 3.38 ERA over a 22 game span with a 1.134 WHIP. The team looks to bounce back from a few nagging injuries that saw Mookie Betts, Max Muncy, and Cody Bellinger miss time and caused, with news from yesterday, Clayton Kershaw to be shut down for the entire Postseason.

Adam Wainwright will look to keep Father-time at bay at least one more time tonight for the Redbirds. The 184 game winner across 16 MLB seasons compiled a wonderful season posting a resurgent 3.05 ERA over 32 starts to pair with a 1.06 WHIP. What truly makes this an interesting start for Wainwright is his Postseason experience and numbers. He will take the mound tonight with a sub-3 ERA and 1.11 WHIP over 28 career Postseason appearances. He has two rings with the Cards and will be tossing with his partner in crime Yadier Molina. Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt anchor an offense that has been oft-overlooked but should be anything but here in October. With Tyler O’Neill’s strong finished and the team boosting a top-ranked defense per advanced metrics in MLB, the Cardinals will be a tough cookie in this winner-take-all game.

FanDuel: Dodgers -235, Cardinals +194

The Dodgers are the favorites. This should come as no surprise to anyone, and at those odds there is not much upside to taking the cover straight up. +194 is also not enough of a flip for the Cardinals to entice us as on paper LA should take the game. While we generally do not love pre-game covers or out rights in baseball, the Dodgers at -110 to cover 1.5 is decent value.

Advice: the 1.5 cover at -110 for the Dodgers is the better pre-game bet. Scherzer on the bump and a good-to-great bullpen should all but void any chance for the Cardinals to open up a large multi-run lead. The Dodgers should be within striking distance at all times of this game, and to be frank they are more likely to pile up the big inning than anyone NL or AL this Postseason. Don’t completely ignore the outright winner, however, as if you can find it parlay the Dodgers outright odds with a Corey Seager anytime homerun for +444 odds on FanDuel. Seager has a healthy .813 OPS in Postseason play and a NLCS and World Series MVP under his belt.

With the AL Wildcard clearing the over, some might be hesitant to venture near the under 7.5 on this contest. We are not one of them. Without a back-door 9th-inning homerun from Stanton, the under hits last night. As has been mentioned before, runs will be at a premium throughout the majority of the Postseason. Max Scherzer and Adam Wainwright’s combined 374 total wins and 5,000+ strikeouts are of particular note for this.

Advice: Take the under while it’s still at 7.5. We see the over/under number only dropping as the game processes. Anything in the 5.5 area for an over/under is difficult to feel comfortable with, and with the aforementioned names tilling the rubber, grab it at 7.5 before it drops.

Now onto those names on the mound. The over/under for K’s on Wainwright is 4.5. We have no interest in either side. 4.5 is too low to reasonably take the under, but to high given his age to put anything worthy on the over. Scherzer on the other hand gifts us an intriguing option at 7.5 total K’s. While Scherzer is a master of his craft with 3,000 career strikeouts, his Postseason K numbers are not as eye-popping. Pair this with the Cardinals being efficient at the dish, and starting pitchers today rarely see the 7th-inning or beyond and there is a perfect storm for the under to hit.

Advice: Give the Scherzer total K’s under a thought. The Cards are not a team prone to big swing and miss totals, and the chances of either starting pitcher going more than 5 is low.

Best Bets

Parlay a Seager long ball with the Dodger outright to give those outright odds some extra juice, take a flyer on the Scherzer K’s under, and hammer the total runs under.

If Gerrit Cole’s 2-inning outing taught us anything last night, it is that you never really know what to expect during the Postseason, especially during one-and-down games. Tonight is shaping up to be another classic matchup. May the over/under’s always be in your favor.

About @757JoeyWalsh 8 Articles
A highly involved sports writer with passion for it. MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL fanatic. Sports are simply what I do.

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