The Dodgers (88-51) have won the first two games of this four game series in St. Louis, and look to take the series win with Mitch White on the mound. It won’t be an easy task, as the Cardinals (69-68) will have their ace Adam Wainwright taking the ball for them. With 23 games remaining and a 14.5 game lead over both the Reds and Padres for the first Wild Card spot, the team is all but guaranteed to be in that game at the very worst. They do need to find a way to win the division though, because I just know that Blake Snell or Wade Miley will be ready to kill the Dodgers playoff hopes in a one game elimination game. They currently trail the San Francisco Giants (90-50) by 1.5 games (the Giants already won today), so they’ll be looking to avoid losing any further ground in the NL West.
|4:45 PM||St. Louis|
|2B||T. Turner||2B||Edman (S)|
|P||White (R)||P||Wainwright (R)|
After not starting yesterday, Mookie Betts and Max Muncy will both be in the starting lineup as Justin Turner has the day off. Turner had two home runs last night, but has played five days in a row. Steven Souza Jr. started in right field yesterday, so with Betts returning to the lineup, Souza Jr. will be on the bench. In order to get Turner the day off, someone obviously needs to play third base. That somebody will be Muncy, who has logged just two starts at third base this season, totaling 19.1 innings, but has almost 800 innings at third base over his career. If the team still had AJ Pollock available, it feels that in order to get the day off for Turner, Chris Taylor would be at third, Muncy would be at first, and Pollock would be in left, but with Pollock injured, Albert Pujols at first and Muncy at third seems to make the most sense.
The other option would be Souza Jr. in left field where he’s played just 48 innings in his entire career. Pujols isn’t hitting right-handed pitching well at all (.507 OPS, 40 wRC+), but maybe Roberts likes the defensive alignment this allows better. I don’t know. It’s just how it is. Will Smith was 4-4 yesterday, and now with a 142 wRC+ and an .899 OPS, he trails just Buster Posey in both by a slim margin (145 wRC+ and .903 OPS). He also leads all of baseball in catcher fWAR at 4.5.
Here’s how White and Wainwright matchup.
Initially, White was slated to start yesterday behind Corey Knebel, but the team went with the more traditional bullpen day instead, using nine total relievers. Ideally White gets close to or past the fifth inning and the offense has done enough by then to make the game easy enough for the bullpen. White last started on August 29, going 3.1 innings against the Rockies, although he allowed a three run frozen rope homer to the red-hot C.J. Cron in the first inning. He settled in after that, ending his outing with six strikeouts and those three earned runs. Three of his last four outings were “starts”, but his longest appearance was his 7.1 inning relief outing against the Pirates, allowing just two hits and two walks. As a “starter” he has a 5.73 ERA in 11 innings with a 1.55 WHIP, but when you add that 7.1 inning relief outing, those numbers change to a 3.44 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP as a starter. He also has a 2.25 ERA in 24 innings in Triple-A this season, with a 3.29 FIP, 1.29 WHIP and 28 strikeouts. Overall he’s been solid for the team and that’s about all you can ask for.
Adam Wainwright is a Cardinals legend, and is in his 15th full season in the Cardinals’ starting rotation. With 1989 career strikeouts, he’s coming close to being the 85th pitcher in MLB history to log 2000 career strikeouts. It’s possible he passes Orel Hershiser (2014) in strikeouts this season. He’s a three time All-Star, has come top three in Cy Young voting four times, is a two time gold glover and a one time silver slugger. He also is a 2006 World Series Champion (technically in 2011 as well, although he didn’t pitch that season due to Tommy John surgery). He has a 2.89 ERA, 2.75 FIP, and a 1.11 WHIP in 109 innings pitched in the postseason. He’s accumulated 44.9 career fWAR and 44.3 career bWAR.
This year he’s had a rejuvenation. He’s third in quality starts at 19, behind just Robbie Ray (21) and Walker Buehler (24). He’s tied for second in wins at 14, trailing just Julio Urias (16-3). In the NL he’s tenth in fWAR at 3.6, third in innings pitched at 176.0, eighth in WHIP at 1.03, and eighth in ERA at 2.91. He’ll get some Cy Young votes at this rate, but facing the Dodgers should be a tough task. He’s also 40 years-old. Last time out he allowed one earned run on four hits and three walks while striking out four over 6.1 innings against Milwaukee. He has a 2.14 ERA and 2.83 FIP since June 9, over 109.1 innings pitched, and has a 1.54 ERA, 2.53 FIP, and 0.84 WHIP over his last nine starts and 64.1 innings.
If the offense were to struggle against the Cardinals, this is the matchup that would make sense. The team will have their work cut out for them and will need to fight hard to keep this one close as St. Louis clearly has the edge in starting pitching today.
Clayton Kershaw will throw a bullpen on Friday, and assuming all goes well, is slated to start on Monday against Arizona.
With Tony Gonsolin returning tomorrow and with Clayton Kershaw at the beginning of next week, starting rotation question marks are beginning to clear up. This is just speculation, but hearing that David Price was dealing with some arm issues this past weekend in San Francisco, I could see him ending up on the IL to make one of these moves work.
First pitch is at 4:45 PM PDT on SNLA.