NL Wild Card Best Bets

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A fun night for Boston fans leads them to a series with the Rays. Tonight, we get the NL Wild Card matchup between the Dodgers and the Cardinals. MLB was desperate for these winner-take-all games after some bling luck a few years back. But, the teams are the ones that really suffer. Think about it, if the Dodgers lose tonight, their entire season comes down to winning 106 games and one game loses their entire season. In any case, let’s not worry about that. Instead, let us focus on the betting possibilities here.

The Cardinals are baseball’s hottest team and have been for quite some time. They needed a stretch of greatness to get into the postseason at all, and that’s exactly what they had. A stretch of a 17-game winning streak and winning 21 of their last 25 games. Adam Wainwright goes for the Cardinals tonight and he had a great season. Wainwright had 3.05 ERA on the season, but one big concern is he was not as strong on the road, posting an ERA almost a full run higher as a road starter than a home starter. Against the Dodgers, he had one start this year, allowing four earned runs in 8.1 innings. Two of those runs came in the top of the ninth. He’s only allowed one home run to the Dodgers hitters, but they are collectively batting .280 against him.

This really doesn’t need to be said, but the Dodgers are really good. Their biggest weakness might be their bullpen, or their closer more specifically, but even Kenley Jansen is better than most closers. Perhaps their biggest strength is their starting pitching. No one wants to face Max Scherzer, Walker Buehler, and Julio Urias twice each in a seven-game series. That doesn’t even mention Tony Gonsolin who is good, and the currently injured Clayton Kershaw. Tonight is Scherzer’s night though. He’s faced the Cardinals twice this season and both times were quality starts. In fact, he hasn’t allowed an earned run to them all season. But, he did allow 10 hits in 14 innings, which is pretty high. He also struck out 22 hitters, including 13 in his last appearance against them.

The lines on this game offer very little flexibility and room for anything. I lean towards the Dodgers and the under 7.5, but those aren’t official plays. I’m putting in just two plays for tonight’s game. The first play is going to be under 3.5 runs in the first half of the game at -102. If this goes over, my assumption is because Adam Wainwright will have been chased from the game by the fifth inning. I don’t expect Scherzer to allow more than two runs in the entire game. I’m going to take the over on Scherzer’s strikeout total as well. It is a high 7.5 at +120, and while I think the value is a little low, he is striking Cardinals hitters out 39% of the time in their career. To strike out 8 batters in the average 24 hitters he faces in a game, would just be 33% of the time.

A couple of small notes – the Dodgers have won every start from Scherzer since acquiring him at the deadline. If you want to risk the -235, go for it, but the Dodgers/under 7.5 runs is +170. Again, not great value, but better than paying -235 for the moneyline. I will sprinkle a draw after 3 innings at +210 as I think both of the pitchers should hold the offenses down the first time through the lineup.

Written by David Troy

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