The St. Louis Cardinals have been on a magical run over the last month or so. They went from being completely out of the playoff race to now occupying the first wild-card slot in the National League. They had an MLB best 22-6 record in August, despite the fact that much of their lineup has been banged up or on the DL. This has been one of those cases where the name on the front of the jersey was more important than the name on the back. It has been awesome to watch.
All that being said, all those injuries finally caught up with them last night. This badly depleted Cards lineup made Luis Castillo look like Sandy Koufax. Castillo had the second highest qualified ERA of any starter in the National League coming into this game and was basically unhittable in this one. He pitched six and two-thirds of an inning and allowed no runs on just two hits and struck out eleven. It was likely the best start of his short major league career.
What can you do, even the red-hot teams are going to lose games here and there. It will be interesting to see how this team performs as they start to get all their pieces back on the field. Can this team make an improbable run to the World Series? The National League seems to be wide open, and they are certainly playing at a high level right now. Only time will tell if this St. Louis team can keep up this breakneck pace or if they will fade back into the mediocrity, where they spent most of the season before this run. For today’s pick, we will look at the game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are in Los Angeles Sunday for game four of a four-game series with the Dodgers. This series has had a playoff atmosphere as all three games have been low scoring and have come right down to the wire. The Dodgers have taken two out of the first three games and with the wins have pulled even with Arizona for first place in the National League West Division race. The combined score of the first three games? 7-7. It doesn’t get much closer than that. The winner of today’s game will sit alone atop the division standings.
Starting for the Dodgers is Walker Buehler (6-4 3.02 ERA), and for the DBacks, it is Clay Buchholz (7-2 2.07 ERA). The Dodgers are big -169 home favorites. The game total over-under is set at seven and a half runs. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 PM PST from Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
Clay Buchholz has found the fountain of youth this season for the DBacks. He might even be pitching the best he ever has right now. After missing almost all of last season and the first two months of this season with injuries, many wondered if Buchholz would be able to make it back to the big leagues. He was dropped earlier this season from a minor league contract with the Kansas City Royals and was picked up by the DBacks on a minor league deal.
I can’t imagine that Arizona expected the type of production they are getting out of Buchholz right now when they snatched him up for basically nothing. In August, Buchholz was 3-1 with a 1.25 ERA. In his last three starts, he has pitched a combined twenty-three innings and has allowed one earned run. He has pitched seven innings or more in all of his last four starts. Buchholz has allowed two runs, or fewer, in all but two of his fourteen starts this season. If Arizona wins the division title this season, Clay Buchholz will likely be the hero.
Walker Buehler is another guy that has been a pleasant surprise this season. This is Buehler’s second season in the big leagues and his first as a starter. And the kid is pitching his butt off. He was a little bit shaky in June and July but has gotten back on track in August as he was 2-0 with a 1.53 ERA in five starts. On the season, Buehler has an ERA of just 3.02, more than respectable for a rookie starter.
I have been preaching this all season long. The Dodgers are ALWAYS over-priced! Like literally always! And that is the case in this one. Clay Buchholz is on another level right now, and I just can’t see him as such a big dog against a rookie like Walker Buehler. Neither of these teams are playing overly well at the moment, and if this series has shown us anything, it is that these two teams are about as even as it gets.
Coming into play tonight, these teams have identical records on the year, and this series has been dead even as well. I just don’t see much that separates these two squads and to see the Dodgers as huge favorites is just shocking. You know what, no it isn’t. It’s standard. The Dodgers have been priced terrible all year, and I have taken advantage of it all season long, and I will take advantage of it again tonight. Give me the Arizona Diamondbacks as big road underdogs at +159 today from Los Angeles in game four!