Dodgers Dugout: Previewing the wild-card game

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and today’s the day. Get the Tums out. Find out where your nearest defibrillator is. Get that inhaler ready. One game. Winner moves on. Loser goes home.

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—First, some good news: Max Muncy didn’t tear any ligaments in his elbow, so he could return later this postseason. The debate continues on who starts in his place. Albert Pujols, Matt Beaty or Cody Bellinger? I’d start Beaty for his bat, but the guess is the Dodgers will go with Bellinger for his defense. They also floated the idea on Tuesday of playing Billy McKinney there. Let’s hope not.

—“It was a very scary moment,” Muncy said Tuesday. “I hear my elbow popping … I did dislocate my elbow on the play, and it popped back in when I was rolling on the ground. They said there is some other damage in there. We’re going to know more in the next few days about that. I definitely felt like my arm wasn’t there. Thankfully, things aren’t as bad as they could have been.”

—No torn ligaments for Clayton Kershaw either and he won’t need surgery. But he won’t return this postseason.

Dave Roberts on people who criticize the team for not winning the division this season: “It’s the people that have never played at a high level that think they know what they don’t. That’s the noise that I’m proud of our guys that they don’t listen to because it’s again – people who share that view are clueless and haven’t been in the grind to understand what it takes to win a 100 games in a Major League season.”

Walker Buehler, who started Sunday, will not be on the roster for the wild-card game, since it’s only one game and he wouldn’t be able to pitch. If the Dodgers advance, they can readjust their roster for the NLDS.

—The Cardinals are in the playoffs for the third straight year. They lost to Washington in the NLCS in 2019 and lost to San Diego in the first round last season.

—The Cardinals won 17 straight games at one point in September, the second-longest winning streak after Sept. 1 in major-league history. The Cubs won 21 straight in 1935.

Adam Wainwright, 40, will be making his 16th postseason start.

Max Scherzer, 37, is making his 18th postseason start.

—The Dodgers 106-56 record is the best of any defending World Series champion since 1969, when divisional play began.

—The Dodgers have won 15 straight games at Dodger Stadium.

Let’s look at some numbers, and then I will give you my prediction for the game.

St. Louis Cardinals (90-72, RHP Adam Wainwright, 17-7, 3.05 ERA) at Dodgers (106-56, RHP Max Scherzer, 15-4, 2.46 ERA), 5 p.m. PDT, TBS, ESPN radio

Season series: Dodgers, 4-3

Dodgers’ home record: 58-23, best in baseball
Cardinals’ road record: 45-36

Run differential
Dodgers: +269, best in baseball
Cardinals: +34

Record in first half
Dodgers: 56-35
Cardinals: 44-46

Record in second half
Dodgers: 50-21
Cardinals: 46-26

Record in extra innings
Dodgers: 6-13
Cardinals: 7-2

Record in one-run games
Dodgers: 24-24
Cardinals: 26-19

Days in first place this season
Dodgers: 28
Cardinals: 31

Walkoff wins
Dodgers: 3
Cardinals: 6

Walkoff losses
Dodgers: 9
Cardinals: 4

Runs scored
Dodgers: 830 (1st in NL)
Cardinals: 706 (10th)

Doubles
Cardinals: 261 (9th)
Dodgers: 247 (11th)

Triples
Dodgers: 24 (7th)
Cardinals: 22 (9th)

Home runs
Dodgers: 237 (3rd)
Cardinals: 198 (6th)

Stolen bases
Cardinals: 89 (3rd)
Dodgers: 65 (9th)

Batter Walks
Dodgers: 613 (1st)
Cardinals: 478 (14th)

Batter Strikeouts
Dodgers: 1,408 (8th)
Cardinals: 1,341 (12th)

Batting average
Dodgers: .2443 (6th)
Cardinals: .2435 (7th)

OB%
Dodgers: .330 (2nd)
Cardinals: .313 (11th)

SLG%
Dodgers: .429 (4th)
Cardinals: .412 (7th)

Batting with runners in scoring position
Cardinals: .263 (3rd)
Dodgers: .262 (4th)

Batting with two out and runners in scoring position
Dodgers: .249 (2nd)
Cardinals: .233 (6th)

ERA
Dodgers: 3.01 (1st)
Cardinals: 3.98 (7th)

Shutouts
Dodgers: 17 (4th)
Cardinals: 15 (5th)

Home runs allowed
Cardinals: 152 (second fewest)
Dodgers: 161 (third fewest)

Pitcher walks
Cardinals: 608 (second most)
Dodgers: 486 (13th)

Pitcher strikeouts
Dodgers: 1,599 (1st)
Cardinals: 1,225 (15th)

Bullpen ERA
Dodgers: 2.93 (1st)
Cardinals: 4.01 (6th)

Fielding errors
Dodgers: 89 (eight most)
Cardinals: 84 (10th)

Defensive efficiency rating (% of balls in play turned into outs)
Dodgers: 72.3% (1st)
Cardinals: 71.4% (2nd)

Probable starters

Catcher
Dodgers: Will Smith, .258/.365/.495, 19 doubles, 25 homers, 130 OPS+
Cardinals: Yadier Molina, .252/.297/.370, 19 doubles, 11 homers, 86 OPS+

First base
Dodgers: Cody Bellinger, .165/.240/.302, 9 doubles, 10 homers, 45 OPS+
Cardinals: Paul Goldschmidt, .294/.365/.514, 36 doubles, 31 homers, 143 OPS+

Second base
Dodgers: Trea Turner, .328/.375/.536, 34 doubles, 28 homers, 146 OPS+
Cardinals: Tommy Edman, .262/.308/.387, 41 doubles, 11 homers, 93 OPS+

Third base
Dodgers: Justin Turner, .278/.361/.471, 22 doubles, 27 homers, 123 OPS+
Cardinals: Nolan Arenado, .255/.312/.494, 34 doubles, 34 homers, 121 OPS+

Shortstop
Dodgers: Corey Seager, .306/.394/.521, 22 doubles, 16 homers, 145 OPS+
Cardinals: Edmundo Sosa, .271/.347/.389, 8 doubles, 6 homers, 106 OPS+

Left field
Dodgers: AJ Pollock, .297/.355/.536, 27 doubles, 21 homers, 137 OPS+
Cardinals: Tyler O’Neill, .286/.352/.560, 26 doubles, 34 homers, 150 OPS+

Center field
Dodgers: Chris Taylor, .254/.344/.438, 25 doubles, 20 homers, 110 OPS+
Cardinals: Harrison Bader, .267/.324/.460, 21 doubles, 16 homers, 116 OPS+

Right field
Dodgers: Mookie Betts, .264/.367/.487, 29 double, 23 homers, 128 OPS+
Cardinals: Dylan Carlson, .266/.343/.437, 31 doubles, 18 homers, 117 OPS+

Closer
Dodgers: Kenley Jansen, 4-4, 2.22 ERA, 38 saves, 69 IP, 36 hits, 36 walks, 86 strikeouts, 5 blown saves, 13% IRS%
Cardinals: Giovanny Gallegos, 6-5, 3.02 ERA, 14 saves, 80.1 IP, 51 hits, 20 walks, 95 strikeouts, 8 blown saves, 12% IRS%

Max Scherzer in postseason: 7-5, 3.38 ERA
Adam Wainwright in postseason: 4-5, 2.89 ERA

Best Cardinals hitters against Scherzer: Edman (4 for 9 with a homer), Paul DeJong (4 for 13 with a double), Matt Carpenter (7 for 28 with 3 doubles)
Worst Cardinals hitters against Scherzer: Molina (1 for 17), Goldschmidt (5 for 32 with 16 strikeouts), Bader (2 for 10)
Cardinals as a team against Scherzer: .180 (29 for 161) with 8 doubles and 1 homer

Best Dodgers hitters against Wainwright: Trea Turner (5 for 14 with two doubles), Justin Turner (3 for 9 with 2 doubles), Corey Seager (2 for 7 with a double)
Worst Dodgers hitters against Wainwright: Albert Pujols (1 for 10), Chris Taylor (1 for 6)
Dodgers as a team against Wainwright: .243 (26 for 107) with 8 doubles and 1 homer

So, who’s going to win? The Cardinals are a very good team, and, in what is becoming my mantra, anything can happen in one game. The fear for Dodger fans is the team has one of those games where the offense takes a nap. Scherzer vs. Wainwright, two experienced postseason pitchers, should be a great matchup (now watch the final score be 10-8). Honestly, there’s not much analysis to be done for one game, which is why most people don’t bet on individual baseball games. But, a final score has been running through my head for a couple of days now, so….

Prediction: Dodgers 5, Cardinals 3

In case you missed it

Longtime teammates Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen headed to uncertain future

Corey Seager is part of Dodgers history. Does he want to stick around for more?

Hernández: Trevor Bauer makes a clumsy grab at the playoff spotlight. The Dodgers aren’t amused

And finally

Vin Scully‘s greatest calls, 1950-2016. Watch and listen here.

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