By Jordan Horrobin | | 7 mins
NL Wild Card 2021 Cardinals at Dodgers Picks & Betting Preview
Unlike its American League counterparts, the playoff teams on the National League side were set for a handful of days. The last thing up for grabs on Sunday was the NL West division title, which the league-leading San Francisco Giants snuck away with. That left the Los Angeles Dodgers, owners of the league’s second-best record, with the short-straw opportunity of hosting the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL wild-card game on Wednesday (8:10 p.m. ET).
In practically any other year, a 106-win team like the Dodgers wouldn’t be subjected to this single-game-elimination format. Their “reward” in this setting is a date with the Cardinals, who are only here because of a franchise-record winning streak in September. St. Louis native Max Scherzer (15-4, 2.46 ERA) gets the start for the Dodgers, and Adam Wainwright (17-7, 3.05 ERA) will pitch for the Cardinals.
Unsurprisingly, the Dodgers — who finished 16 games ahead of the Cardinals — are sizable home MLB betting favorites at betting sites in this matchup. But anything can happen in a one-game playoff, right? Here’s a look at the Dodgers vs Cardinals odds.
Dodgers vs Cardinals Best Bet
It’s not hyperbolic to suggest that Scherzer is the greatest trade deadline acquisition of all-time (and the Dodgers should know, given what Manny Ramirez did for them back in 2008). Since he and Trea Turner were shipped to L.A. on July 30, Scherzer is 7-0 with a 1.98 ERA in 11 starts.
But … have you seen his stats lately? Scherzer has allowed five earned runs in both of his past two starts, which is something he hadn’t previously done since May 2014. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts chalked it up to a lack of command when asked by reporters, and obviously the team isn’t concerned enough to keep Scherzer from starting with their season on the line.
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Also, it might help to know that Scherzer dominated the Cardinals when he saw them Sept. 6, allowing one unearned run over eight innings, with 13 strikeouts. Not to be forgotten is Wainwright, who went 8 1/3 innings in a win over the Dodgers during that same series (Wainwright had a more pedestrian four runs allowed on seven hits, though). Wainwright has only lost one of his past 11 decisions dating back to July 27.
But we’re not going to overthink this one when making our MLB picks. The Cardinals needed a 17-game win streak, the longest in their 140-season history, to even get here. The reigning-champion Dodgers are seasoned and far more successful. We like L.A. on the moneyline, and the value of the -1.5 run line +100 with Caesars Sportsbook and other betting apps is definitely worth consideration, too.
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3 NL Wild Card Top Props To Back
Cardinals concede three runs or fewer in first six innings (-175 at Caesars): The odds aren’t super juicy here, but we love the trend that backs up this prop. Wainwright been excellent at pitching deep into games (he leads the majors with five complete games over the past two seasons), and doing so effectively.
In his past 15 starts, since the all-star break, Wainwright has conceded three runs or fewer through six innings a whopping 13 times. That includes his start against the Dodgers on Sept. 8, when he held them to two runs through eight innings before yielding two more in the ninth.
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Dodgers to score first (-136 at FanDuel): We just finished hyping up Wainwright, but even so, we like the Dodgers to draw first blood. Wainwright has a tendency to struggle when facing the top of a team’s order for the second time, evidenced by his 5.97 ERA in the third inning this season. Scherzer’s most problematic inning has been the fourth (5.14 ERA).
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Alternate run total, Under 8.5 (-150 at DraftKings): As discussed already, both Scherzer and Wainwright have performed well against their respective lineups in this matchup. As such, we expect them to help keep this a low-scoring game. Experience is on their side as well: Scherzer, 37, and Wainwright, 40, have both thrown over 100 playoff innings and posted sub-3.50 ERAs in their esteemed careers.
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