Dodgers @ Cardinals September 13, 2018: Dodgers look to Freese the Cardinals Devil Magic

(Via)

The Dodgers (79-67) finally found a way to beat the Reds on Wednesday, but now they face a much tougher opponent in the Cardinals (81-65) who, like them, are vying for a playoff spot.

Dodgers
Cardinals
4:15 PM
St. Louis
LF
Taylor
1B
Carpenter
3B
Turner
2B
Munoz
SS Machado
RF
Martinez
1B
Freese
LF
Ozuna
RF Kemp
SS
DeJong
2B
 Dozier
3B
Gyorko
CF
Hernandez C Molina
C
Barnes
CF
Bader
P
Kershaw (L)
CF
Gomber (L)

We all know Clayton Kershaw‘s postseason history with the Cardinals, and I’ve already been reminded by Cards fans in my menchies before the game has even started. Kershaw will have to face familiar foes including Matt Carpenter who’s in the midst of a MVP season (5.2 WAR). The Redbirds have even reunited with Matt Adams, so be prepared for some aggravating flashbacks. He’s not in the starting lineup, Mike Shildt missing a perfect opportunity to troll us all. That doesn’t mean he won’t torture us off the bench as a pinch-hitter though.

Kershaw (7-5, 2.42 ERA, 3.03 FIP) has looked more like his dominant self over the second half with a 2.04 ERA, 0.859 WHIP and a very Kersh-like 14.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His fastball velocity has been a big conversation point this season, but if he can continue to use his slider effectively he gives the Dodgers an upper hand every time he takes the mound.

Last time out, in a very odd game at Coors Field, Kershaw put together a solid start going six innings and allowing two runs on six hits with seven strikeouts and a walk on 98 pitches in the 7-5 Dodgers win. He hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs in his last nine starts.

Technically Kershaw has a winning record against the Cardinals (6-5 with a 2.99 ERA in 16 career starts). His 3.06 strike-out-to walk ratio against St. Louis is the second worst ratio against any MLB team besides the Cleveland Indians, and they have a .290 OBP vs. Kersh. He’s 2-3 with a 3.68 ERA in seven starts at Busch Stadium. While the four postseason losses still haunt me, let’s slow the roll on the Kershaw being owned by the Cardinals thing, okay?

Yadier Molina, who is back in the lineup for the Cardinals after missing some time with a hamstring injury, is 11-for-40 (.275) with three doubles against Kershaw. Adams is 4-for-14 (.286) with a double and a homer vs. Kershaw. Carpenter has hit five extra-base hits against him including a home run, but he’s also struck out 10 times in 35 at-bats against the supreme southpaw.

The Cardinals have had a very good rotation this year despite some injures. I don’t think anyone predicted that the Cards might end up going to the playoffs behind guys like John GantTyson Ross, Austin Gomber and old friend Bud Norris, but here we are. The Dodgers will face rookie left-hander Gomber (5-0, 2.93 ERA, 3.65 FIP) for the second time. The Cardinals came away with a win on August 20 at Dodger Stadium behind Gomber who went five innings and allowed two runs on five hits with four strikeouts and four walks on 83 pitches in the no-decision.

Gomber has a tricky delivery and a nasty curveball, but his command is still a bit shaky (4.0 BB/9). Opposing batters are hitting his curve to a tune of .176/.218/.216/.434 with a 27.3 K%.

Who did it better?

Opposing batters are hitting .200/.218/.235/.454 with a 33.3 K% off Kershaw’s curveball this year.

——

This four-game series in St. Louis may make or break the Dodgers’ playoff chances. They are currently trailing the Cardinals for the second NL wild card spot by two games. Of course the Dodgers, and our collective sanity, would prefer for them to win the division. A wild card game is not something I want to even start thinking about. With time dwindling and the Diamondbacks rolling over for the Rockies who are not fading away, it may be the only way to get another shot at returning to the World Series. There’s even a chance the Dodgers and Cardinals could match up in a potential NL Wild Card showdown.

We’re looking ahead, but should the Dodgers and Cards battle each other in a one-game NL wild-card game, the results of this regular season series have important implications. The Cardinals swept the three-game set at Dodger Stadium three weeks ago, so one win in this series would give the Cardinals the home game if they end up tied in the wild-card standings at the conclusion of the season.

The Cardinals have won 23 of their last 33 games and have always been a tough opponent against the Dodgers when they utilize their #CardinalsDevilMagic. It won’t be easy, but at least they’re not the Reds?

About Stacie Wheeler

Stacie Wheeler
Stacie Wheeler, born and raised in So Cal, has been writing about the Dodgers since 2010. She wrote daily as the co-editor of Lasorda's Lair for five long years, and she has also written for Dodgers Nation, Dodger Blue 1958 and The Hardball Times. She currently contributes to True Blue LA. Stacie graduated from the University Of Southern California with a bachelor's degree in Cinema-Television. You can also watch her videos on her YouTube channel, DishingUpTheDodgers.