The St. Louis Cardinals will keep the momentum of winning games one and two of their National League Championship Series, with a victory on the road in game three against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday.
To date, this series has been defined by great pitching – by both teams – and terrible opportunistic hitting by the Dodgers. Los Angeles has stranded 17 runners on base and registered a woeful .039 batting average in 26 at bats with runners in scoring position. Key hitter Yasiel Puig is 0 for 9 with 7 strikeouts.
Normally, you’d say a good hitting team that has struggled like that may find their footing when they return to their home stadium after a couple of games. The problem here is the Dodgers must now face St. Louis’ most seasoned – and probably the club’s best – starter.
Adam Wainwright had a fantastic regular season, going 19-9 with a 2.94 ERA. In two post-season appearances against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League Division Series he raised the performance bar. The right-hander tallied a 2-0 record and a 1.13 ERA in 16 innings. He struck out 15 in that stretch. Equally as daunting for Dodger fans is the fact that Wainwright has a very good history versus LA batters. In 147 plate appearances against Wainwright, Dodger hitters have a .213 batting average and a .262 on base percentage.
To counter Wainwright, the Dodgers will rely on Hyun-Jin Ryu. While some pundits at the start of the year didn’t believe the South Korean import would thrive in the Major Leagues, he proved them wrong. He delivered a 14-8 record and a solid 3.00 ERA. One of his best starts of the year actually came against the St. Louis Cardinals. On August 7, Ryu got the win against the Cards by pitching seven innings and giving up just five hits and no earned runs, while striking out seven.
Here’s the problem: Ryu looked simply awful in his sole start in the National League Division Series. In that game, which was his most recent outing, he was shelled for four runs and six hits in just three innings.
There should be some legitimate fear he won’t immediately bounce back from that debacle. Following his worst regular season performance in 2013 (five innings pitched; five runs and seven hits allowed against the Arizona Diamondbacks on July 10), he didn’t immediately return to form. In fact, he had a second poor showing in a row (5 1/3 innings; four runs and nine hits allowed against the Toronto Blue Jays on July 22). He’ll need to avoid that sort of back-to-back letdown.
But, even if Ryu is on his game, there’s no reason to be optimistic the Dodgers offence will be – especially with Wainwright on the mound. Take the Cardinals to win at 1.80.
Back the St Louis Cardinals to beat the LA Dodgers at 1.80
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