It’s an unfortunate start to the postseason as I dropped my second consecutive pick last night between the Brewers and Dodgers.
The Brewers held the Dodgers to only three runs. Had I known that prior to the bet, I would have been thrilled as my Brewers +1.5 moneyline pick would have required them to plate just a pair of runs. Unfortunately, Clayton Kershaw wasn’t about to let that go down.
Kershaw was brilliant in putting his postseason demons to rest – for the time being – with eight shutout innings to go along with a whopping 13 strikeouts against just one walk. He allowed only three hits while a clean inning from rookie Brusdar Graterol punched the Dodgers’ ticket into the NLDS to face the winner of tonight’s Game 3 between the Cardinals and Padres.
Speaking of the Cardinals and Padres, let’s break down that matchup and see where we should go with our bet for this elimination game tonight.
Cardinals vs. Padres Betting Odds
- Cardinals (+111)
- Padres (-121)
- Cardinals +1.5 (-180)
- Padres -1.5 (+160)
- Over 9.5 (-110)
- Under 9.5 (-110)
Cardinals vs. Padres NL Wild Card Game 3 Breakdown
The Cardinals have received a solid effort from Kwang Hyun Kim in Game 1 and while Adam Wainwright was out after just 3.1 innings in Game 2, their ace gets the ball in tonight’s do-or-die Game 3.
While Jack Flaherty didn’t pitch like an ace in his brief regular-season work, he cemented himself among the game’s best with an unworldly second half to last season but seemingly couldn’t find a rhythm in the truncated 2020 season so far.
Flaherty worked to a 4.91 ERA in his 40.1 innings of work this season spanning nine starts and his command abandoned him some as his 3.57 BB/9 for the year was significantly above his 2.52 mark from a season ago.
That said, Flaherty’s peripherals suggest improved results moving forward. He also posted a 4.11 ERA while his 3.42 xFIP mark for the year hangs around names such as Gerrit Cole, Lucas Giolito and Max Scherzer. He also continued to pile up strikeouts at a 10.93 K/9 clip while his 3.91 SIERA also suggest improved fortune moving forward.
Flaherty has made three career starts against the Padres, posting a lights-out 1.10 ERA in those 16.1 innings. That said, he didn’t face them this season and we can all agree this Padres offense went to a whole new level in 2020.
Finally, Flaherty has made three postseason starts spanning 17 innings in his career, working to a 4.24 ERA in that time, but also a 3.04 FIP, 2.56 xFIP and 11.65 K/9.
It’s anybody’s guess as to what the Padres are going to do from a pitching perspective tonight, but it’s probably safe to say we will see a good bit of that bullpen again in this one.
San Diego didn’t get much at all from starters Chris Paddack and Zach Davies in Games 1 and 2 as Paddack lasted just 2.1 innings while allowing six earned runs while Davies wasn’t any better last night, allowing four runs in just two innings of work.
As a result, the Padres’ bullpen has worked 13.2 innings through the first two games of this series.
This is precisely why the injuries to Dinelson Lamet and Mike Clevinger hurt so much. Lamet would probably have started last night’s Game 2 while Clevinger would have been set up for this Game 3 start tonight.
I would look for Garrett Richards to get the most work of any Padres pitcher in this one as he’s probably the team’s most stretched-out arm while he made 10 starts for the team this season, working to a 4.03 ERA/4.28 FIP in that time. He threw 1.1 innings of scoreless relief in the Padres’ Game 1 loss.
The most surprising thing to me in this series so far is how the Cardinals have gone toe-to-toe with the Padres at the plate after a poor offensive performance in the regular season.
In the regular season, the Cardinals tied for 23rd with a .305 wOBA against right-handed pitching and finished 25th with a .293 wOBA outside of Busch Stadium as well. Their .123 ISO on the road was also the worst mark in baseball, yet they’ve homered three times at the pitcher-friendly Petco Park through two games.
Paul Goldschmidt is responsible for two of those home runs as he hit a laser off Padres closer Trevor Rosenthal last night after taking Paddack deep in the first inning of Game 1.
While the regular season numbers were poor, the Cardinals are laced with veteran players with significant postseason experience, so it’s also a team that knows how to perform this time of the year, and they’ve proven that by lighting up a pair of quality starters on their way to plating 16 runs across the first two games of the series.
Not sure many of us saw that coming.
The Padres came out of the gate swinging in 2020 and did not stop on their way to a second-place finish in the NL West. They wasted little time in establishing themselves as the most electrifying team in the sport as they come at you with a power/speed combination that no other team can match.
The Padres ranked fifth with a .347 wOBA on the season against right-handed pitching, but they also moved up to third with a powerful .219 ISO against righties. Furthermore, they were among the most dangerous home offenses in baseball as their .355 wOBA at Petco this season ranked sixth but their .240 ISO at home was the best mark in the league.
They didn’t muster much while scoring four runs in Game 1, but it’s an explosive offense as evidenced by their performance in last night’s thriller. Both Fernando Tatis Jr. and Wil Myers homered twice while Manny Machado also played some long ball.
The Padres led all of baseball with 55 stolen bases in the regular season, and that was also on display in Game 1 as both Tommy Pham and Jake Cronenworth stole a base. Yadier Molina isn’t to be messed with behind the plate for the Cardinals, and he shut the run game down last night, but this is certainly a dangerous club on the basepaths as well.
The Cardinal’s bullpen had a nice regular season and held the Padres in check in Game 1, but it’s a bullpen that was always due to regress and we saw that take place while blowing a lead in last night’s Game 2 loss.
The Cards ranked 10th with a 4.00 bullpen ERA, but also 17th with a 4.63 FIP and 19th with a 4.66 xFIP. The 37.9% hard hit rate they allowed, as per Statcast, in the regular season was the 10th-highest mark in baseball.
Walks were an issue in the regular season with a 4.52 BB/9 – 10th-highest in the league – but obviously it was the home run ball that did that bullpen in last night as the Cardinals’ bullpen surrendered all five of the home runs allowed in the 11-9 Game 2 defeat.
While I mentioned the San Diego bullpen has already seen a heavy workload in this series, the Cardinals used seven different relievers combining for 4.2 innings. They also used five different relievers spanning 5.2 innings in Game 1.
So, while they haven’t thrown as many innings as the Padres so far, the Cardinals bullpen has been busy in this series as well.
Covering 13.2 innings of work across two games in a best-of-three series isn’t ideal, but the Padres’ bullpen has been the better of the two this series.
In Game 1, they pitched 6.2 innings of one-run ball and while last night didn’t go as well with three runs allowed in seven innings, that’s still a 2.73 ERA from their ‘pen through two games. That compares favorably to the Cardinals’ 9.00 bullpen ERA so far as they’ve surrendered 10 runs in 10 innings including nine in just 4.2 innings last night.
The Padres’ benefited from solid bullpen work in the regular season as they tied for 13th with a 4.38 bullpen ERA, but also ranked 10th with a 4.08 FIP and fifth with a 4.15 xFIP.
Their 2.84 K/BB ratio was the seventh-best mark in the league and their 6.2% barrel rate – as per Statcast – tied for third league wide.
Although last night’s save wasn’t his smoothest of the season, Trevor Rosenthal has been dominant in his Padres tenure while he didn’t allow a single earned runs in 10 regular-season innings with the club. Drew Pomeranz also didn’t have the best of outings last night, but he posted a 1.45 ERA/2.39 FIP after signing a lucrative four-year deal with the Friars this past winter.
While the back end remains reliable, it would be the middle relievers that could win or lose this game for the club tonight.
Cardinals vs. Padres NL Wild Card Game 2 Pick
Playoff baseball is as unpredictable as it gets and I’m pretty sure we’ve already seen that throughout the Wild Card series’ around the league so far.
It was surprising to see the Cardinals come out and win Game 1 as significant underdogs and, to me, it was even more surprising to see them score another nine runs in Game 2 after what the offense put on display throughout the regular season.
Now, they get Flaherty on the mound with a chance to pitch his team into the NLDS.
While Flaherty would have seen better results over a larger sample size in a normal regular season, he just hasn’t been on this season.
He managed to go more than five innings in just one of his final eight starts of the season and posted an 8.36 ERA over his final three regular-season starts. He also posted a 5.14 BB/9 in that time while allowing three homers as well.
Pitchers have not been getting deep into games this October – as we’ve seen in previous postseasons – as high-stress pitches have just shortened outings across the board. With Flaherty already not getting deep in the regular season, I’m more focussed on whether or not this Cardinals bullpen can keep this Padres electrifying offense at bay on the heels of allowing nine runs and five home run in their 4.2 innings last night.
To me, that answer is a resounding no.
I think the Padres offense continues to roll in this one regardless of Flaherty’s performance, and while the Cardinals are likely to generate some themselves on what mostly looks like a bullpen game for the Padres, I’m taking the Padres all day long if this one turns into a slugfest.
I’ll take the home side on the moneyline tonight.