Cardinals vs. Giants MLB Oct 16th – NLCS Game Five

Last night produced yet another vintage Giants October classic. They scored runs in wacky ways, manufacturing runs in several innings without ever hitting the ball out of the infield, and the bullpen was solid for five shutout innings in relief of a shaky Ryan Vogelsong, who before last night was on a postseason ERA list with Sandy Koufax and Christy Mathewson. That’s pretty elite company for a #4 starter, so perhaps last night’s regression to the mean shouldn’t be terribly surprising.

And neither should the Giants October play. They are one game away from making it an all wildcard World Series, not to mention earning some nice rest before the start of the Fall Classic. The Royals lay await – can the Giants clinch a spot next to them tonight?

Let’s dive into tonight’s potential clincher in the Bay.

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Today’s Free Pick:

National League Championship Series Game Five – at AT&T Park, San Francisco

St. Louis Cardinals +130 at San Francisco Giants -140 (Total: 6)

Adam Wainwright vs. Madison Bumgarner

This line swelled quickly from -125 on the overnight to -140 in most books by 4am. The money is flooding in San Francisco’s way, and my general position is to avoid the herd, but in this case, it’s hard to argue that isn’t the smart money.  They helped us notch a third straight MLB win last night and ninth in my last twelve postseason picks including a few healthy underdogs.  Hopefully we can keep it rolling tonight.

And, let’s face it, something isn’t quite right with Adam Wainwight. He and the club have downplayed the elbow issue, but he hasn’t looked quite as sharp lately even beyond the crazy 10-9 game with the Dodgers. His Game One start in the NLCS wasn’t “bad” but it was far from dominant.  I have some big questions as to whether or not he will get deep enough in the game to offer the beleaguered Cardinals bullpen some respite.

Speaking of dominant the legend of Madison Bumgarner has taken off during this postseason and the 25-year old who is pitching tonight to reach his third World Series has been fantastic. From his dominance on the mound to his impressive five-beer pounding locker room celebration, he has been the breakout star of the postseason (with apologies to Koltin Wong, Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, and John Jay… ok, there have been a lot of breakout stars, but MadBum has the most legit staying power). He has posted a 0.76 ERA in three postseason starts including a pair of shutouts. Anything close to that tonight should seal the deal for San Fran.

I’d still rather have Wainwright on the mound than anyone else in the Cardinals rotation, but I think injuries might finally catch up with them and put the damper on their usual October magic. Missing Molina is an absolute killer, and even if he plays tonight it’s hard to imagine him being very effective with an oblique injury. It wouldn’t stun me if he gave it a go tonight, but I just don’t think it’ll be enough. Couple Baumgarner on the mound with the production the Giants are getting from top to bottom, especially Sandoval who is slugging over .500 in the postseason.

The Giants are on a roll and I don’t see it stopping with MadBum on the mound. The juicy line makes the Cardinals a tempting value play, but I just don’t see them winning tonight. I’ll lay the juice and take the Giants to close out the series.

Free Pick: San Francisco Giants to WIN -140