MLB Postseason Preview: National League Wild Card

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MLB Postseason
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 27: Mookie Betts #50 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates after scoring a run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the sixth inning in Game Six of the 2020 MLB World Series at Globe Life Field on October 27, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Now that the daunting 162-game schedule is completed, it’s time to look to the MLB Postseason, specifically the National League Wild Card. The game will commence on Wednesday at 8:10 p.m ET when the Los Angeles Dodgers stay home to host the St. Louis Cardinals.

It’s been a chaotic final week for both teams to get into the MLB Postseason. The Cardinals rode an amazing 17-game winning streak to clinch the second spot while the Dodgers were still fighting for the NL West crown but came up one game short. Can the red-hot Cardinals take down this powerhouse Dodgers team?

MLB Postseason Preview: National League Wild Card

Cardinals vs Dodgers (National League)

Pitching Matchup: Wainwright vs Scherzer

This pitching matchup will the best of the two Wild Card games. The Cardinals will be throwing out 40-year old Adam Wainwright while the Dodgers counter with Max Scherzer.

Wainwright has been the ace of the Cardinals all season long and is a big reason why they secured an MLB Postseason spot. Even when this team has looked dead, Wainwright still went out there and pitched some of the best games of his career. He finished the season 17-7 with a 3.05 ERA. He has gone seven or more innings 16 times and has given up two or fewer earned runs 20 times.

Wainwright has done more than enough to earn some Cy Young votes but the pitcher he will be sharing the mound with is someone who will more than likely take home that award.

This Dodgers rotation was already dangerous enough at the beginning of the year but they couldn’t help themselves get more help as they acquired Scherzer at the trade deadline. He was excellent before the trade but he got more dominant while wearing Dodger blue.

Scherzer had a 2.76 ERA in Washington this season but tallied a whopping 1.98 ERA for the Dodgers that has totaled a 2.46 ERA for the year. He also went 15-4 with 236 strikeouts. Both of these pitchers are dangerous when they’re on their game and that should be the case on Wednesday.

Offense

Not only is the pitching going to shine, but both of these offenses look to pick up right where they left off to end the regular season. The Dodgers have one of if not the best lineup in the majors as one through eight can cause teams huge problems. St. Louis on the other hand has a pretty good lineup too that simply got red hot in September and never looked back.

The Cardinals had a rough few months of the season. This team was projected to be in the thick of things in the division but the opposite happened. Every aspect of the team was up and down. If it wasn’t the offense losing it for them, it would be the pitching. If it wasn’t the pitching losing it for them, it would be the offense.

That cycle went on pretty much all year and the injuries to this team didn’t help at all. The offense had guys throughout this lineup that could produce but it didn’t come together at the same time until now.

Everyone in the Cardinals’ lineup has contributed in some way. This includes the middle of the order coming to life late in the season. As soon as Manager Mike Shildt put Tyler O’Neill in the third spot, this lineup has been lethal. O’Neill is having a breakout year in left field in all facets of the game. He has hit a career-high 34 home runs to go along with 80 RBI.

To go along with a breakout year on offense, his defense has shown up all year and that might get him the gold glove in left field. Before O’Neill in the lineup is Paul Goldshmidt, who has been on a tear for months. He’s hit 31 home runs and was just one RBI shy of 100 for the season.

That’s not all as Nolan Arenado has joined in on the fun. After being acquired from the Rockies in the offseason, Arenado quickly found a home in St. Louis and hasn’t looked back. He’s hit 34 home runs with 105 RBI. These three have helped the Cardinals immensely in the search for the wild card spot.

The Dodgers will counter with a pretty lethal lineup of their own. Having Mookie Betts leadoff says it all. He missed some time due to an injury but in 121 games, he’s hit 23 homeruns with 57 RBI. Behind him would be an MVP candidate in Max Muncy, who has 36 home runs and 95 RBI, but after suffering an injury in the final game, he’ll likely be held out of action on Wednesday.

It’s a good thing this all-star lineup also has guys like Corey Seager, Trea Turner, AJ Pollock, and more to take charge.vThe Dodgers have six players with 20 home runs as five of them have over 70 RBI. This lineup can strike fast and early against anyone so the Cardinals will have to play like they have been all September.

Overall Assessment

These two teams have had history both in the regular season and in the MLB postseason. These two historic franchises going at it in a one-game scenario to move on to the NLDS is great for baseball.

The Dodgers have the edge in almost every way with superstars littered throughout but this isn’t the same Cardinals team from earlier in the year. St. Louis got hot at the right time and is looking poised for a deep run. They’re also one of the best defensive units in the league. With two workhorses taking the mound and two hot lineups, this will be a dogfight for nine innings.

American League Wild Card

Wild Card game: New York Yankees AT Boston Red Sox
Pitching Matchup: Gerrit Cole (NYY); Nathan Eovaldi (BOS)
Date: October 5th, 2021
Time: 8:08 p.m. ET
Network: ESPN

Main Photo:

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