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Wild Card preview LA Dodgers vs St Louis Cardinals. What should we expect.

Well, as the 2021 regular season comes to a close, our attention must turn to the playoffs. We have a one-game Wild Card play-in. The Cardinals opponent will be the 106-56 Los Angeles Dodgers IN Los Angeles. The two teams will lock horns on Wednesday, October 6, at 7:10 PM CST.

The game will feature two veteran pitchers for the Dodgers.

Max Scherzer via buzztalker

Max Scherzer 30 games, 15-4, 179 1/3IP, 2.46ERA, 2.97FIP 0.864WHIP, 236 strike outs. 1 complete game.

For the Dodgers 10 games, 7-0, 68 1/3IP, 1.98ERA, 1.96FIP, 0.820WHIP, 89 Strikeouts.

Max is from the St Louis Area and was once thought to want to pitch in St Louis. With the Dodger rotation now minus Trevor Bauer and Clayton Kershaw. The Dodger rotation is losing bullets. The good news for them is this game. They don't need a rotation, just their Ace.

In September, Mad Max has been more human 6 games 39 1/3IP, 2.29ERA, but a ridiculous 1.95FIP and a 0.814WHIP. Career wise vs St Louis 13 games, 84IP, 4-6, 2.76ERA, 1.028WHIP. This season 2 games 2-0, 0.00ERA, 0.768WHIP.

The Cardinals will counter with Adam Wainwright.

Adam Wainwright via Ron Vesley- getty images.

This year for Wainwright has been a resurgence. 32 Games, 17-7 206 1/3IP, 3.05ERA, 3.66FIP, 1.057WHIP, 168 strikeouts 3 complete games.

Vs. the dodgers

17 games(14 starts), 98IP, 7-5, 2.66ERA, 1.153WHIP

In his last 6 games, Wainwright is 4-0 36IP, 3.44ERA, 4.17FIP.

Wainwright has been a workhorse, a warrior, the driving force of the rotation.

This game could come down to which team gets to which pitcher early (or at all). One thing is for sure this is a classic pitching match-up that should be fun to watch for ANY baseball fan.

Now, if it comes down to the bullpen, it could be interesting. The Dodger bullpen has several arms that have put up outstanding numbers.

Kenley Jansen via John McCoy-getty images

Led by Kenly Jansen's 38 saves in 43 opportunities 2.2ERA 3.08FIP and 1.043WHIP. Then they have Blake Treinen 7 saves with a 1.99ERA, 2.88FIP, and a 0.982WHIP they also have Joe Kelly and Phil Bickford, who sport sub 3ERAs. Their middle relief David Price, Brusdar Graterol, are not nearly as good as the back end. So again, If the Cardinals can get to Scherzer early and force them into using middle relief, they might fair well. If Scherzer can get to the seventh with a lead, it could be an uphill battle. Also, the Dodger pen is light on Left-handed pitching. They only have three, Price Alex Vesia and Justin Bruihl.

The Cardinals have a stable full of excellent arms they can bring into a game from both sides of the hill.

Giovanny Gallegos via Dillip Viswanant- getty images

The Cardinal pen has a group of flamethrowers mixed with a couple of cagy vets.

The Cardinals do not have the same numbers as the Dodgers, but the results speak for themselves. As I mentioned, they can come at you from both sides and multiple places.

Left-hander, Kwang Hyun Kim has thrown six games out of the pen with a 1.80ERA in 10 innings. Another left-hander, TJ McFarland, had a 15 game stretch in August where he did not allow a run and stranded 6 inherited runners. Since joining St Louis in 38 games has a 2.56ERA, he has struck out 21 and only walked 9. Then there is Genesis Cabrera, 3.73ERA but a 3.28FIP who brings HOT stuff in the 99MPH range. Kodi Whitley has become a very reliable right-hander 2.49ERA, 2.97FIP, Former closer Alex Reyes who, since losing that role, has only had 1 bad game in September. Then there is the current choice for closer Giovanny Gallegos 73 games 3.02ERA, 2.75FIP, 14 saves. For the playoffs, Jack Flaherty will be in the mix as well as Luis Garcia. I don't think either manager will be shy about going to the pen if needed for this game.

The Offense

St. Louis has not had good luck at Dodgers Stadium this year. In 3 games earlier, they are hitting .194/.224/.379 with 5 home runs and 10 RBIs. They are barely above that in overall numbers vs. LA this year .200/.239/.348, 8 home runs, 19 RBIs. However, if you look since August, the Cardinals have banged out 102 doubles, 84 home runs, and driven in 280 runs. Now the Dodgers in that same time frame 87 doubles and 92 home runs. 275 RBIs. So both teams are playing at high levels.

Unlike St Louis, the Dodgers lack prolific big fly(as Ricky Horton calls it) run producers. Max Muncy is the only one with 36 HRs and 94 RBIs. He won't be available due to an arm injury sustained in Sunday's game vs. Milwaukee in a collision at 1st base. He is their only 30+ homers and 90+ RBIs

Justin Turner via Christian Peterson - getty images

The Dodgers Still have plenty of weapons for a one-game showdown. In truth, a weak spot is hard to find.

Justin Turner,.278/.361/.471 with 22 doubles, 27 home runs, and 87 RBIs 87 runs scored. Chris Taylor .254/.344/.438, who has become a sort of super-utility guy, is a run producer, 25 doubles, 20 home runs, and 73RBIs. Add in Trea Turner, who they picked up at mid-season who sense he has been with LA is slashing .338/.385/565 He has scored 41 runs in 52 games with 17 doubles and 10 home runs. His combined numbers from Washington and LA show he is always the threat. 34 doubles, 28 home runs, and 77RBIs. Then there is Mookie Betts, a modest .264/367/.487 with 29 doubles, 23 home runs, only 58RBIs but 93 runs scored second-most on the team. Catcher Will Smith .258/.365/.495 with 25 home runs and 76RBIs. Albert Pujols will play First Base for the Wild Card game. While he is not typical Pujols, he is still a dangerous hitter. The "weak spot" would be Cody Bellinger, who missed all but 7 days in the first two months of the season is hitting .165/.240/.302 with 10 home runs and 36RBIs. Since September 1, he has been .130/.202/.222 1 home run 4 RBIs. You don't win 105 games by accident.

The Cardinal offense this year, as we know, has blown hot and cold. Right now, they are one of if not THE hottest teams in baseball. The trifecta of Paul Goldschmidt, Tyler O'Neill, and Nolan Arenado (99 home runs and 280RBIs) has started to gel.

The biggest surprise of this trio is the emergence of O'Neill. O'Neill has put together a season That could have a stray MVP vote or two head his way. At the very least, this season has put him on the map. .286/.352/.560, 34 homers 80RBIs.

Tyler O'Neill via Joe Puetz-AP

Since moving to the 3rd spot in the order, O'Neill has been an absolute beast. A span of 32 games, .328/.377/.731, 7 doubles, 1 triple, and 13 home runs(11 home runs in September). With him heating up and Arenado behind him, that part of the lineup will present a problem for ANY pitching staff.

While Arenado was St Louis's only 30+ homer 100+ RBI guy, Goldschmidt did not miss it by much, 36 home runs and 99RBIS while stroking a .294/.365/.514 slash line. Tommy Edman was red hot in August, .302/.364/.491 22RS and 14RBIs, he has cooled off slash-wise .248/.277/341, but with 18 RS and 11RBIs.he is still making things happen. Dylan Carlson, Harrison Bader, and Edmundo Sosa have kicked it up a notch from earlier in the season. All have been weekly, if not almost daily, contributors to the Cardinal offense. Did I mention that Carlson .266/.343/.437 18 Home runs 65RBIs and Sosa .271/.346/?389 39 RS are ROOKIES! Bader, who started the season on the IL, was hurt again, came back in July, and was quickly the best hitter on the team .357/.402/.619 5 home runs 18RBIs. After a freefall in August, once again, he is getting on base and driving in runs and posting a .333/.368/.613 for September and October, including 7 home runs and 19 RBIs. This offense is no slouch.

The Bench might be the one area of distinct advantage for LA.

Matt Beaty via Gary Vasquez- USA today

With Pujols having to play first and the status of Muncy in doubt, it could be a short bench, though. Since the addition of Trea Turner, the bench has fluctuated some, but the core of Matt Beaty .270/.363/.402, 7 homers 40RBIS and Gavin Lux .242/.328/.364, 7 homers 46RBIs

4 homers 42RBIs. Add Chris Taylor's utility role, and it is an excellent bench. Austin Barnes is probably the weakest of the bench players. .215/.299/.345 with 6 Home runs and 23 RBIs.

The Cardinal bench has been a spot of contention. In my opinion, not enough was done in the off-season to make it a sustainable option that was bored out during the early part of the year with all the injuries.

Lars Nootbaar via Kyle Rivas UPI

Lars Nootbaar .239/..317/.422 5 home runs 15RBIs. Has been a recent bright spot. During the 17 game win streak, he hit .286/.355/.500 2 home runs 5RBIs. Jose Rondon has proven to be a good bench player/Pinch-hitter, .263/.322/.413 3 home runs, all on pinch hits, only 9 RBIs and 13 RS, and less than 90 plate appearances. Edmundo Sosa has been such a good bench player he is now starting putting Paul DeJong .197/.284/.390. He does have 19 home runs and 45RBIs. On the bench. All that leaves 3 players on the bench that are hitting below the Mendoza line. DeJong, Matt Carpenter .169/.305/.275, 3 home runs, and 21RBIs. Andrew Knizner .174/.281/.236 1 home run 9RBIs. If it comes down to the bench, it could get very dicey.

I actually would feel better if this were a 5 game series. St Louis has only one chance to get this right. While I think they can, they will be climbing a steep hill. I think it will come down to IF and how early the Cards get to Scherzer, How well Wainwright pitches, and how the bench responds If and WHEN needed. we will all find out Wednesday at 7:10 PM on TBS

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