NL Wild Card Game Odds, Expert Picks, Predictions: 4 Best Bets For Cardinals-Dodgers (October 6)
Getty Images. Pictured: The Cardinals’ Paul DeJong and Tommy Edman.
- The Dodgers are a big home favorite against the Cardinals in the NL Wild Card Game.
- Is there value to be found on St. Louis after its hot streak to end the season?
- Continue reading for our staff's best bets for tonight's game, including a moneyline, run line and player prop.
Cardinals vs. Dodgers NL Wild Card Game Odds
|Over/Under||7.5 (+100 / -120)|
|Time||8:10 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.|
The Dodgers had their eight-year streak of NL West title snapped by the 107-win Giants, and must get past the Cardinals to start their defense of the 2020 World Series title.
St. Louis was dead in the water two months ago, but got red-hot down the stretch, winning 17-straight games in September and running away with the second NL wild-card spot.
Tonight’s game is a big one, and our analyst have a few different bets to recommend, including a moneyline play on the underdogs, a run line on the favorites, and a player prop.
Here are our four best bets for Wednesday’s National League Wild Card Game.
Cardinals vs. Dodgers Best Bets
DJ James: The St. Louis Cardinals go into the National League Wild Card Game as the hottest team in baseball. This is not necessarily indicative of playoff success, but it does play a hand in how the Cardinals fared since August 1, compared to the Dodgers.
Max Scherzer is a far better pitcher than Adam Wainwright. Waino’s 2021 campaign was a godsend for the Cardinals, a team that barely had a shot at playing in this game a few months ago. Scherzer, on the other hand, is on another level, but by how much?
Scherzer is a horse. Since the Dodgers acquired him, he owns a 1.98 ERA and 0.82 WHIP. He is elite. He was even more successful against right-handers in the second half with the Dodgers, posting a 0.50 WHIP and only allowing one home run.
The Cardinals, however, have a .332 xwOBA in since August 1 against righty fastballs. In fact, on four-seamers right around 94 mph (Scherzer’s average velo), the Cards have a .347 xwOBA. Since he features this pitch about 47% of the time, St. Louis might actually have an advantage here.
Wainwright is a different type of beast. He throws his curveball nearly 40% of the time to make up for the lack of velocity on his fastball. Work smarter, not harder. On righty curveballs since August 1, the Dodgers own a .264 xwOBA. They do crush fastballs around 89 mph (again, how hard Wainwright throws), so his repertoire should probably feature the off-speed options as much as possible.
When it comes to hitting right-handed pitching, both of these teams are about average over the last two months. Six hitters in the St. Louis lineup eclipsed the 100 wRC+ mark. That is the exact same as the Dodgers with no Max Muncy in the lineup.
Both bullpens have been stellar down the stretch. The Dodgers have a 2.43 ERA since August 1, and the Cardinals have a 3.34 ERA. The Dodgers do have a clear advantage because they ranked second in Barrel Percentage to the Cardinals’ 14th. The Cardinals also allowed the second-worst Hard-Hit Percentage to the Dodgers’ second-best.
In a one-game playoff, the Dodgers are the better team, but the market is currently overvaluing them. -230 against a Cardinals team that has hit like it has recently with a solid arm on the bump to start is an insult to St. Louis. Take the Cardinals at +190 and play it down to +160. Yes, Los Angeles would clearly win a series between these two teams, but there is plenty of understated value on St. Louis in one matchup.
Kenny Ducey: It sounds pretty simple-minded of me to say in the year 2021, but Wednesday’s NL Wild Card Game will come down to home runs. Why? Allow me to explain.
In September and October, only one team homered more than the St. Louis Cardinals, who went deep 56 times. What makes this so important is because this number, and .217 ISO as a result, are the driving forces behind their recent success. The Cardinals are actually walking at a 6.9% clip, which is drastically lower than all other teams in the top half of the league in wRC+ over this span, and their 23.5% strikeout rate is high.
What’s more, the Cardinals rank all the way down in 27th place over the last month and change of the season in contact rate. Put simply, it’s a very all-or-nothing approach with the Cardinals, who have struggled to flood the bases with traffic.
The Dodgers, on the other hand, have made contact much more consistently, sitting seventh over that span, and have hit a very competitive 51 homers to slide into the top five in that number. While their strikeout and walk numbers are superb, it’s important to take them with a grain of salt considering they played so many poor opponents down the stretch and are now missing Max Muncy.
Anyway, I think there’s a chance the Cardinals can out-homer the Dodgers here, at least early in the game. Max Scherzer has not only given up 10 earned runs in his last two outings, but he’s allowed three homers in that span. We also may be romanticizing his 2019 postseason a bit, considering he walked 15 and allowed four homers in five starts, pitching to a 3.98 FIP in all of his six appearances. He over-threw in the World Series, walking seven hitters in two starts, and he over-threw down the stretch this year when the games became meaningful.
The Dodgers’ bullpen has been amazing throughout the second half, but I don’t anticipate Scherzer’s hook being quick, even if he struggles early. That could complicate matters here, and with Adam Wainwright’s insane form and the momentum the Cardinals’ bullpen carries in, an early deficit could be too much for L.A. to overcome.
Dodgers First Five Innings -0.5 (-145)
Brad Cunningham: Max Scherzer has been incredible ever since joining the Dodgers. In his 11 starts he has a 2.89 xFIP, 11.72 K/9 rate, and only a 1.05 BB/9 rate, which are incredible numbers for a 37-year-old.
Scherzer mainly utilizes a fastball, cutter, and slider combination, which will be a good matchup against the Cardinals who have a combined -23.1 run value against those three pitches for the season.
A lot of St. Louis’ success offensively over their win streak came against left-handed pitching; the Cardinals are third in terms of wOBA against lefties, but they’re 17th against righties.
The other old guy pitching in this game, Adam Wainwright has been pretty good this season, 3.84 xERA, 2.18 BB/9 rate, and opponents are hitting only .218 against him.
Wainwright will be able to exploit the Dodgers’ one weakness since he throws a curveball more than any other pitch, and the Dodgers have a -5.6 run value against them this season.
However, the Dodgers crush Wainwright’s other two main pitches, as they have a +33.1 run value against sinkers and a +5.6 run value against cutters since the trade deadline. Additionally, the Dodgers hit right-handed pitching really well, ranking sixth in terms of wOBA and wRC+.
Max Scherzer Under 7.5 Strikeouts (-124)
Collin Whitchurch: Max Scherzer has pitched in one Wild Card Game in his career. It was in 2019 against Milwaukee, when he struck out six in five innings.
Scherzer has a long and storied postseason career, of course, dating all the way back to 2011 with Detroit, and in 18 career postseason starts, he’s gone over 7.5 strikeouts seven times, but six of those seven instances came in 2013 or earlier.
In his 2019 run with Washington, Scherzer made five starts and went over 7.5 just once — an 11-strikeout outing in Game 2 of the NLCS … against the Cardinals. He hit exactly seven twice, and if we go back to 2016 he hit seven two more times, but still, nothing beyond that.
This is the kind of pick that could easily blow up in our face if we get the fire-breathing dragon Scherzer has been known to turn into in big moments. But this Cardinals team isn’t the easiest to strike out, with a 22.3% K rate that ranks eight-lowest in the majors, and the sixth-lowest mark against right-handed pitchers.
Also, given the magnitude of these winner-take-all games, unless Scherzer is absolutely dominant (always a possibility) it’s not unlikely he gets a quick hook if the game is tight in the fifth or sixth inning.