NL Wild Card Game picks, predictions

October 6th, 2021

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We finished up the regular season by going 45-27-1 on article plays — a tally that includes two futures bets made at the All-Star break that have since been finalized. Would I like to rest on the laurels of a productive six months? Sure. However, it’s not as if there isn’t money to me made during the playoffs, as well.

Here are my favorite three bets for tonight’s National League Wild Card Game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.

This prop actually opened at 5.5 runs and at plus-money on Tuesday, but I’m still more than willing to get in at this price. Essentially what you’re doing with a wager like this is backing each team’s starting pitcher. Considering it’s Adam Wainwright and Max Scherzer taking the bump this evening, I don’t think that’s a terrible way to go.

Let’s start with Wainwright. The 40-year-old has been a revelation in the second half of 2021, pitching to a 2.58 ERA and a 3.31 FIP across the 22 starts he’s made since the beginning of June. Wainwright has been specifically effective shutting down opposing right-handed bats within this span of time, as RHBs have posted underwhelming marks in both average (.189) and wOBA (.225) against the grizzled veteran. A split like that always matters, but it’s of particular import on Wednesday with Max Muncy unavailable to play due to an elbow injury. With Cody Bellinger still in the midst of a nightmarish, season-long slump, Muncy’s ailment leaves Corey Seager as Los Angeles’ lone LHB to fear. Look for Wainwright to take advantage.

As for Scherzer, what is there really left to say? The right-hander has made 11 appearances since being traded to the Dodgers and, in those opportunities, he’s registered a 1.98 ERA to go along with a 1.95 FIP. He’s possibly the most-qualified active pitcher to be starting in a one-game playoff scenario. I don’t have a doubt that he’ll come through tonight.

Speaking of Scherzer’s dominance, let’s recount his exploits this season when getting the chance to face this St. Louis lineup. The 37-year-old only made two starts against the Cardinals in 2021, but each was incredibly noteworthy, as Scherzer finished the season with a 0.00 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 14.0 innings within the matchup. Those numbers include an outing made exactly one month ago, when Scherzer shut down St. Louis across eight scoreless innings, striking out 13 opponents. That performance was so commanding that Scherzer technically posted a -0.08 FIP. Let that sink in for a second.

For the season as a whole, Scherzer’s 34.1% strikeout rate was the second-best qualified mark in the league, trailing only Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes. The veteran’s 15.7% swinging strike rate was also the second-best figure in baseball, while Scherzer’s 78.7% zone contact rate was the lowest in the National League. Simply put, the man is difficult to hit and he should have little issue reaching eight strikeouts going up against a Cardinals team that ranks inside the top 10 in strikeout rate (24.0%) and swinging strike rate (12.5%) the past 30 days.

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This is a matchup prop where I just believe the line is wrong. Aggressively so, if I’m being completely honest. While I’m more than willing to admit that I think Scherzer and the Dodgers have the overall advantage in this contest, that doesn’t necessarily translate to Los Angeles’ ace walking fewer batters than Wainwright. In fact, it could work against Scherzer.

There’s a decent chance that it’s Scherzer who is pitching deeper into this game than Wainwright and, simply put, more plate appearances means more opportunity for counting stats like walks to pile up. It’s also not as if either one of these men is renowned for any control issues. Funny enough, if you go back to the beginning of the 2020 campaign, both Scherzer and Wainwright sport identical 6.0% walk rates.

Is this prop guaranteed to hit? Of course not. However, if you play this matchup three times, I assure you, Wainwright finishes with fewer walks at least once, especially with the aforementioned Muncy — the Dodgers’ team leader in walk rate (14.0%) — not in the lineup.

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theglt13) and I may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.

All views expressed are my own. I am an employee of DraftKings and am ineligible to play in public DFS or DKSB contests.

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