The St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers enter into the first game of a weekend series tonight in LA. The Cardinals and Dodgers are both World Series contenders, with the Cards a little more ahead in that regard at this point in the season. Despite being without ace Adam Wainwright, the Cardinals have compiled a solid record 34-18 and look primed to be ready for another run in October. I don’t know who you could really put ahead of them as it stands now. They have the talent and experience to certainly make some more noise a few months from now. For a NHL comparison, they remind me of the Chicago Blackhawks who are currently in the Stanley Cup Finals and up 1-0 in that series after stealing one from the Lightning last night.
The Cardinals should be right there in the fold in the postseason as well. No doubt about it though, without Wainwright, the Cardinals are definitely not as strong in the pitching department. I have said it before, it won’t hurt them too much now, but in the postseason I envision them missing him a lot. They still have a good shot at the World Series, but there will come a game where they wish they had his services.
Michael Wacha has filled his shoes well, and has been the undisputed ace on the Cardinals’ staff. Wacha did hit a bump in the road in his last start, but that is the exception. He is more than often solid as they come. We’ll see how he responds tonight against the Dodgers. The Dodgers send out Carlos Frias to the mound. Frias is making his first stint as a fulltime starter in LA. Last season he fulfilled spot duty, with mixed reviews, and he has been relatively good in 2015 other than one atrocious start that has skewed his ERA. Wacha and Frias meet tonight in LA Thursday night.
St. Louis Cardinals vs. L.A. Dodgers
Michael Wacha (7-1, 2.27 ERA) vs. Carlos Frias (4-2, 4.29 ERA)
Wacha is coming off a game in which he allowed 4 runs against the Angels. That is not very Wacha like. For an average pitcher that might be okay, but 4 runs against is a big deal for Wacha. After dishing out games where he allows 1, 2, or even no runs, 4 comes as a surprise. We’ll see how he follows up that performance tonight in LA. Nevertheless, Wacha is still having a very good season. He posts an excellent 7-1 record with a 2.27 ERA. He’s had two starts this season where he allowed 4 runs, but in his eight other starts he didn’t allow more than 2 runs. The last time he gave up 4 runs, Wacha came back and gave up 0 on 5 hits. Neither of those 4 run games came on the road, where he owns a terrific ERA of 1.64 and perfect 5-0 record.
This is actually a rematch of a few days ago. Wacha did indeed give those 4 runs up against the Dodgers, and conversely, Carlos Frias pitched a brilliant game, allowing no runs against the Cards. Do we expect him to do that again? Well in the previous game before that masterpiece, Frias gave up 10 runs against the Padres. As I said earlier, Frias did spot duty last season, and finished with a 6.12 ERA. I trust Wacha a heck of a lot more coming off a bad start than I do Frias in this game. Wacha rarely ever makes mistakes two games straight. I think the Cardinals have a greater than 50% chance of winning this game, and we are catching them as underdogs as I am locking my pick in. I don’t know if the odds makers are trying to play with my head, but I like Wacha and the 1st place Cardinals in this spot tonight.
PICK: CARDINALS TO WIN +103