NLCS betting preview: Nationals vs. Cardinals

Robert Criscola

October 11th, 2019

Both the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals pulled off sizable upsets to reach the National League Championship Series. Let's break down these squads and find out who has the advantage in this best-of-seven series.

Odds to win the NLCS

Team2019 NLCS Odds
Washington Nationals
-130
St. Louis Cardinals
+110

Starting Pitching

Cardinals manager Mike Shildt revealed his team's starting pitching plan for Game 1 through Game 4, and Miles Mikolas (9-14, 4.16 ERA) will start the NLCS opener at Busch Stadium. He was 5-6 with a 3.10 ERA in 15 home starts during the regular season and allowed just one earned run in two NLDS appearances (six innings).

Adam Wainwright (14-10, 4.19 ERA), who dominated Atlanta through 7 2/3 innings in Game 3 of the NLDS, will go in Game 2 of the NLCS. He was 9-4 with a 2.56 ERA in 16 regular-season starts in St. Louis. Jack Flaherty (11-8, 2.75 ERA), who has a 1.12 ERA in 17 appearances since the All-Star break, will start Game 3 in Washington, and outstanding rookie Dakota Hudson (16-7, 3.35 ERA) will go in Game 4. Hudson will also be available out of the bullpen early in the series.
Starting pitching is Washington's greatest strength, but fourth starter Anibal Sanchez (11-8, 3.35 ERA) will get Game 1 of the NLCS, with Max Scherzer (11-7, 2.92 ERA), Stephen Strasburg (18-6, 3.32 ERA) and Patrick Corbin (14-7, 3.25 ERA) to follow off a highly-taxing NLDS, in which they pitched more than 78% of their team's innings.

Edge: Cardinals

Bullpen

The Nationals bullpen was last in ERA during the regular season (5.66), but Sean Doolittle and Hudson did well when deployed against the Dodgers by manager Dave Martinez. They allowed just one earned run in seven combined innings in the NLDS.

The Cardinals relievers were much more reliable in the regular season, with a 3.82 ERA (sixth), but closer Carlos Martinez was shelled by the Braves in the NLDS (six earned runs over 3 1/3 innings).

It's anyone's guess whether these teams will be able to count on their bullpens in the NLCS.

Edge: Even

Lineup

Washington holds a significant advantage on offense. The Nationals were second in the NL in runs score (873) and OPS (.796) during the regular season. Third baseman Anthony Rendon was their MVP prior to the playoffs and was a big reason why the Nats were able to dispatch the Dodgers (.350 average, one homer, five RBIs).


The Cardinals were 10th in runs (764) in the NL this season and 12th in OPS (.737). First baseman Paul Goldschmidt, who had a 1.383 OPS during the NLDS, needs to deliver at the dish for his team to contend.

Edge: Nationals

X-factor: Marcell Ozuna

Cardinals left fielder Marcell Ozuna is a streaky hitter, and he is currently on one of his hot streaks. The Dominican slugger went 9-for-21 at the plate against Atlanta, with two home runs and five RBIs. Ozuna has fared well against Strasburg and Scherzer in the past. He is 24-for-80 (.300), with five homers and 14 RBIs, against the aces. We'll see if he can continue his hot hitting in his first postseason.

Betting trends

The Cardinals have won seven of their last nine games against the Nationals and are 21-9 in their last 30 home games. The Nationals have a way of sustaining momentum, though, as they've won eight straight games following contests when they scored at least five runs. They're also 12-5 in their last 17 games following an off day.

Prediction: Cardinals in seven games






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