St. Louis Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers Matchup Preview (10/6/21): Betting Odds, Starting Lineups, Daily Fantasy Picks

What a ludicrous postseason baseball game.

The 102-win Los Angeles Dodgers get to play a one-game series for their playoff life. And they’re doing it against a St. Louis Cardinals Team whose playoff odds dropped to 2.8% on September 7th.

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But the Cardinals ripped off 17 wins on their way to a 22-7 month. St. Louis must face the most loaded roster in baseball, but the Cardinals are the hottest team in baseball.

This game is going to be a treat, from Max Scherzer to Adam Wainwright to Mookie Betts to Nolan Arenado. Let’s enjoy this.

The Dodgers are massive favorites in this game, hovering around -225 on the ML. That begs the question: Are the Cardinals slightly undervalued at +185?

Let’s dig into this matchup and find out.

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers Betting Odds

Yes, the Cardinals are undervalued at +185.

The Dodgers win this game far more times than not. However, the Cardinals win this game more times than the line implies. Over the past 16 Wildcard games, underdogs are 6-10. But underdogs with odds greater than +180 are 1-2 for a positive ROI.

While it’s a small sample size, I think this particular underdog is worth a bet. Mostly because of Adam Wainwright, who has been dealing in the second half of the season. Also, because the Cardinals team can’t lose right now. Of any potential NL Wildcard team, the Cardinals are the ones with the best chance to beat the loaded Dodgers.

It’s worth taking a shot with St. Louis in this spot.

St. Louis Cardinals Starting Lineup

2B Tommy Edman S
1B P. Goldschmidt R
LF T. O’Neill R
3B N. Arenado R
C Y. Molina R
RF D. Carlson S
SS Edmundo Sosa R
CF H. Bader R
P A. Wainwright R

St. Louis Cardinals Analysis

In September, the Cardinals posted the seventh-best wRC+ (114) and the fifth-best OPS (.799). The lineup has a few notable stars, but Paul Goldschmidt has been the leader.

After a torrid second half, Goldschmidt will earn MVP votes for the seventh-straight season. He posted a 1.094 OPS in September, remaining disciplined (16 walks to just 24 strikeouts) while hitting for average (.330 BA) and power (nine home runs and nine doubles).

But the most impressive member of the Cardinals has been Wainwright.

Waino turned 40 this season, and he was drafted into professional baseball the same year Tom Brady was drafted into the NFL. He’s been almost as dominant, going on to post a 2.50 ERA and a .95 WHIP in the second half. The Cardinals have won a whopping 13 of Wainwright’s last 14 starts.

As pitchers get older, they have to get craftier. While Brady has leaned into pliability, Wainwright has leaned into his curveball.

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Wainwright’s curve has been both his most used pitch and his most effective pitch. This season, Wainwright has posted a .282 xwOBA on 1047 curveballs thrown, compiling a -15 Run-Value on the pitch.

However, watch out for his sinker as well. Opponents have posted just a .175 BA and a .225 SLG against the pitch this season.

Los Angeles Dodgers Starting Lineup

RF Mookie Betts R
SS Corey Seager L
2B Trea Turner R
3B J. Turner R
C Will Smith R
1B A. Pujols R
LF AJ Pollock R
CF C. Bellinger L
P Max Scherzer R

Los Angeles Dodgers Analysis

There isn’t much to write about the Dodgers.

Eight of L.A.’s nine regular starters have an OPS+ above 130. That doesn’t even include utility player Chris Taylor, who’s posted a 110 OPS+ while recording PAs at seven different positions, or Albert Pujols, who’s hit 12 home runs since joining the Dodgers.

Moreover, the Dodgers have posted MLB’s 10th best defensive runs saved ranking. Every one of these guys could earn a Gold Glove or a Silver Slugger, and that’s hard to beat.

Moreover, the Dodgers put NL Cy Young favorite Max Scherzer on the mound.

Say whatever you want about Adam Wainwright, Scherzer had been even hotter. Scherzer has made 11 starts since being dealt from Washington, and he’s posted a 1.95 ERA and a 1.98 FIP. The Dodgers have won all 11 of those starts.

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Moreover, Scherzer allowed 11 runs in his final two starts, one at Coors Field. In the nine starts before that, he allowed just five earned runs over 58 innings pitched while striking out 80 batters.

Scherzer’s been ridiculous, maybe having the best season of his career. But he needs one more great start if the Dodgers plan on continuing their postseason push.

The good news: Scherzer has pitched 14 scoreless innings against the Cardinals this year, striking out 22 while only walking one in the process. He has a .79 WHIP and a .46 FIP during those innings, and his .345 BABIP allowed suggests there could be some positive regression (inexplicably).

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers Daily Fantasy Corner

The problem with DFS lineups in this matchup is that both pitchers have been dominant against their opposition. Scherzer hasn’t allowed a run against the Cardinals this season, while Wainwright has a career 2.66 ERA vs. the Dodgers.

However, I would recommend fading Wainwright as a starting pitcher in this spot.

There’s no specific hitter that has lit Wainwright up (although Trea Turner has a lifetime .421 BA against him), but the whole team could wear him down. In his one start against the Dodgers this season (September 8th), Wainwright pitched a whopping 8 1/3 innings, but he allowed four runs and seven hits while striking out four.

Moreover, Wainwright has struck out four or fewer batters in his last five starts. So, he doesn’t have a lot of strikeout upside, but he has some Dodger-related downside.

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Tanner joined Lineups to cover everything, but he has vast experience in, and unlimited passion for, Major League Baseball and NCAA Basketball. He’s a McGill University grad and former (Canadian) Division-I alpine ski racer who now spends his time drinking beer and betting home underdogs. Patrick Mahomes is a poor man’s Tom Brady.

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