2021 National League Wild Card Game Preview: Cardinals Vs. Dodgers
Dodger Stadium seats, 2021 National League Wild Card Game
Matthew Moreno/DodgerBlue.com

After tying the franchise win record, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ season comes down to the Wild Card Game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Dodger Stadium. The winner advances to the National League Division Series to face the San Francisco Giants.

The Dodgers finished the season with a record of 106-54, one behind the Giants who finished 107-55, while the Cardinals finished 90-72 after going on a 17-game winning streak in September to secure a playoff spot.

“Look, you have to win your division,” Max Scherzer said. “We didn’t win our division. There’s no crying in baseball. We’re in second place, we’re in the Wild Card Game.”

L.A. also led MLB with a +269 run differential and went 58-23 at home, the best home record in baseball, and they broke a franchise record by winning 15 consecutive home games to end the season. St. Louis posted a +34 run differential and went 45-36 on the road, however they have not lost on the road since Sept. 5.

The game will feature some history as the 37-year-old Scherzer will become the third-oldest pitcher to start a Wild Card Game. He trails only Cardinals’ starter Adam Wainwright, who became the oldest last season at 39 years old and will set the record again today as a 40-year-old.

With Scherzer taking the mound, the Dodgers are confident in their chances as the future Hall of Famer has posted a 2.46 ERA, 2.97 FIP and 5.4 WAR in 179.1 innings while striking out 34.1% of hitters and walking 5.2%.

Scherzer has made two starts against St. Louis this season. He has thrown 14 innings against them while only one unearned run and striking out 14. He last faced them on Sept. 6 and went eight innings with 13 strikeouts while only giving up the one unearned run in a 5-1 Dodgers’ victory.

St. Louis is hitting .244/.313/.412 with a 97 wRC+ as a team this season and against right-handers, they are hitting .240/.310/.396 with a 93 wRC+.

For the Cardinals, they are putting their season in the hands of Wainwright, who has rebounded this season to a 3.05 ERA and 3.66 FIP in 206.1 innings, however, he has been nearly a run better at home (2.74 ERA) than he has on the road (3.58 ERA).

“He’s a guy that has very good command, he’s a three- or four-pitch mix, it’s a lot of curveballs, cutters, two-seamer, doesn’t give in,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “You’ve got to stay short. He feeds off of guys trying to get too big with their swings and he’s a pro.”

Wainwright faced the Dodgers one time this season and allowed two runs over eight innings before coming back out for the ninth and allowing another two runs in a 5-4 Cardinals’ victory.

The Dodgers offense has been clicking recently, scoring eight runs or more in five consecutive games to close out the season, however, they will be without Max Muncy, who injured his arm against the Milwaukee Brewers.

L.A. is hitting .244/.330/.429 with a 106 wRC+ as a team this season and against right-handers, they have hit .245/.334/.425 with a 107 wRC+.

While the Cardinals have two guys who have given the Dodgers a lot of trouble in the past in Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, the player to keep an eye on is Tyler O’Neil, their breakout star.

The 26-year-old is one of the most powerful hitters in the game but he is also a true five-tool player. He finally had his talent come together this season as he hit .286/.352/.560 with 34 home runs, 15 stolen bases, a 145 wRC+ and 5.4 WAR.

With Max Muncy unavailable, Matt Beaty makes the start at first base. Cody Bellinger is also in the lineup, playing center field.

Dodgers lineup

RF: Mookie Betts
SS: Corey Seager
2B: Trea Turner
3B: Justin Turner
C: Will Smith
LF: AJ Pollock
1B: Matt Beaty
CF: Cody Bellinger
P: Max Scherzer

Cardinals lineup

2B: Tommy Edman
1B: Paul Goldschmidt
LF: Tyler O’Neill
3B: Nolan Arenado
RF: Dylan Carlson
C: Yadier Molina
SS: Edmundo Sosa
CF: Harrison Bader
P: Adam Wainwright

Have you subscribed to the Dodger Blue YouTube channel? Be sure to ring the notification bell to watch player interviews, participate in shows and giveaways, and more!