Game time: 8:10 p.m. ET, Oct. 6, 2021
Venue: Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, CA
Where to watch: TBS
Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks
DraftKings: Dodgers -225, Cardinals +185
BetMGM: Dodgers -222, Cardinals +180
Cardinals: 90-72 (2nd place, NL Central)
Dodgers: 106-56 (2nd place, NL West)
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Cardinals - Dodgers preview and analysis
This was always going to be the danger of whichever team finished second in the National League West.
I don't think anyone predicted that danger would be this paramount.
Because wild-card teams aren't supposed to win 106 games and have their entire season come down to a one-game playoff. The Los Angeles Dodgers are in that mold and will take on the red-hot St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday in the NL Wild Card game with the winner facing the 107-win San Francisco Giants in the Division Series.
Normally such a challenge wouldn't be so troubling for the Dodgers, but this Cardinals team pulled off the run of all runs to get to this point. St. Louis was two games above .500 (71-69) on Sept. 10 and were trailing the Cincinnati Reds in the wild card standings. Then the Cardinals pulled off a casual 17-game winning streak in September and all was right with the world.
The Cardinals mowed down every playoff threat in their way; winning two of three against the Reds, sweeping the New York Mets and San Diego Padres to further the lead, and even a four-game series sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers in Milwaukee for good measure. St. Louis ended the season winning 19 of 22.
Adam Wainwright, the 40-year-old ace, will take the mound for the Cardinals and face three-time Cy Young winner and valued trade deadline acquisition Max Scherzer for the Dodgers.
“It’s a team that’s been playing well and feels good about themselves, just like we do. I think obviously we like our side of it,” said Dodgers star pitcher Walker Buehler. “We have a three-time Cy Young winner in one game, but Wainwright has had this resurgence and he’s kind of different, he’s won championships and things like that. It’s going to be a fun game, an entertaining game."
Wainwright has been one of the many reasons the Cardinals are in this winner-take-all spot this week. In his last 12 starts, Wainwright went 9-1 with a 2.34 ERA while holding opponents to batting .210. The Cardinals went 11-1 in those 12 starts.
But the offense, the bats that the Cardinals went all-in for the past few years, turned it up at the right time. St. Louis batted a combined .275 in the final 22 games, scoring 130 runs, 123 RBI and 40 home runs.
The big bats did their work in these final 22 games. Paul Goldschmidt batted .360 with seven homers and 17 RBI; Nolan Arenado had 14 RBI to go with five homers; even Tyler O'Neill became a star in his fourth MLB season. He hit nine of his 34 homers in the final 22 games and drove in a team-best 24 RBI.
“If we're going to go to where we want to go, we’d like to go to the team that won it the previous year,” said manager Mike Shildt. “We might as well start with it right off the bat.”
You'd be hard-pressed to find a better matchup involving pitchers, strong bats, and a potential classic matchup.
But the man taking the mound for the Dodgers is the entire reason why Los Angeles needed to ante up on the arsenal in hopes of winning a second straight World Series title. Scherzer, who finished the season 15-4 with a second-best 2.46 ERA, went 7-0 in 11 starts since being traded from the Washington Nationals at the trade deadline. The Dodgers won all 11 starts with Scherzer posting a 1.98 ERA in that stretch.
If there's anyone that can stand up to the Cardinals' offense, it'd be Scherzer. In a rotation that features 21-game winner Julio Urias and Buehler, L.A. is going with the hot hand to keep its season going for one more week.
“For the regular season, I’m really proud of our guys,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “You have to give credit to the Giants, they had an even better regular season. They took it from us. It’s not the path that we planned out, but now our focus just turns to Wednesday and winning a ballgame on Wednesday.”
The Dodgers will not have leading slugger Max Muncy after leaving Sunday's game against the Brewers with a left elbow injury. Whether he'll be available for a potential NLDS is another question. Muncy led the Dodgers with 36 home runs this season.
Out of the two wild-card matchups, no doubt this is the better one. No matter who loses this game, it'll be a devastating end to two great seasons. That being said, Scherzer in a winner-take-all game seems like a lock. Go back to the 2019 world title run with the Nationals; he went 3-0 and the Nationals went 6-0 in his appearances. He does well when the lights are brightest. Imagine what he can do the rest of the postseason after he takes down this Cardinals batting order. Dodgers win 5-4
The Cardinals are 6-5 (+6.1 net games on the money line) as an underdog between +175 and +250 this season.
The Dodgers are 52-12 (+23.6 net games) when favored by at least -200 this season.
Dodgers: 1B Max Muncy (elbow, out)
Tommy Edman (S) 2B
Paul Goldschmidt (R) 1B
Tyler O'Neill (R) LF
Nolan Arenado (R) 3B
Dylan Carlson (S) RF
Yadier Molina (R) C
Edmundo Sosa (R) SS
Harrison Bader (R) CF
Adam Wainwright (R) P
Mookie Betts (R) RF
Corey Seager (L) SS
Trea Turner (R) 2B
Will Smith (R) C
Justin Turner (R) 3B
AJ Pollock (R) LF
Chris Taylor (R) CF
Cody Bellinger (L) 1B
Max Scherzer (R) P
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