Go with the St. Louis Cardinals, on at 1.91, to win at home against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game three of their National League Division Series.
St. Louis proved all season long that they are really good at two things: winning at home and winning in very close games. Both skills should be difference making in this Monday match-up. St. Louis tied for first in the National League in home winning percentage and also had the best record amongst NL playoff teams in one-run games.
The home team’s starter, John Lackey should put them in a position to win. It’s true that his overall ERA after being dealt from the Boston Red Sox at the end of July was a less-than-stellar 4.30. But his work at home in that stretch was far, far better. In 34 innings at Busch Stadium following Lackey’s move, he posted an excellent 2.38 ERA. Lackey also has a great post-season track record. Boasting a ton of experience (19 playoff appearances), he owns two World Series rings and a lifetime 3.03 ERA over 104 innings pitched.
Dodgers’ fans will hope that their starter Hyun-jin Ryu will keep pace with Lackey. Ryu put up solid numbers this year (14-7 with a 3.38 ERA), but his health has been a huge question mark. He’s only thrown twice since August 31 and his numbers during that period – 7 2/3 innings pitched; six runs allowed – give tremendous cause for concern.
In San Francisco, look for the Giants and the Washington Nationals to combine for fewer that 6 runs in game three of their NLDS; take it at 2.02.
There is no doubt this post-season has been amazingly topsy-turvy so far. When Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright start a Dodgers versus Cardinals game and the final score is 10-9, you know the world is just a bit off.
Nevertheless, when you see good pitching you’ve got to expect that aberrations like that Kershaw-Wainwright result are just that – rarities. Assuming that’s the case, this game, featuring Doug Fister (Nationals) and Madison Bumgarner (Giants) should be a first class pitchers’ duel.
Bumgarner was great this year (18-10 with a 2.98 ERA). Even more important, he’s already shown his steely presence in this year’s post season when he tossed a nine-inning gem against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the NL Wild Card Game (he allowed just four hits and one walk and struck out ten).
Fister actually put up better numbers than Bumgarner in many areas (16-6 with a 2.41 ERA). He’s also on a really good run recently. In his past five starts, he went 4-1 with a 1.87 ERA. He also has a good track record against the Giants. In two starts, he posted a 2.77 ERA over 13 innings.
The upshot both pitchers are primed for a strong performance.