Cardinals vs Brewers, Sept. 21
While the NL Central is all but wrapped up, this game is still big for the Cards who have been the hottest team in baseball for the past two weeks, winning 9 of their last 10. They have secured a three-game lead for the last wildcard spot. With the season winding down, each game grows with significance, and this is a big series for the red birds as half of their remaining games are against the Brew Crew, and a string of losses could put them in a battle with the Phillies, who are getting a layup series with Baltimore. The Cardinals have done a solid job getting to this point, but this will be their first test in; will they be able to pass and maintain their lead in the wildcard?
Red Hot Red Birds: Cardinals
A major improvement for the Cardinals on this hot streak has been the improvement in their bats. Over this impressive 10 game stretch, they have scored five or more runs in six games. They are going to need to have their bats stay hot to keep up with this Brewers team. Woodford will be on the mound for the Cardinals, and he has been solid in his two starts since he returned to the rotation. He is not much of an innings eater as he usually will go right around three to four innings and get the Cards to the second half of the game. He has only allowed three runs in his two starts but has had a little bit of a command issue. He also has a 3/4 strikeout to walk ratio in those games. He did face two good offenses in the Dodgers and the Mets but will need to keep command of the strike zone in order to not overwork the Cardinal bullpen. The Brewers do hold the lead in the head-to-head season series, but only by a slim two games, leading 7-5. If the bats can stay hot, the Cards have a good shot of getting to their bullpen, who has been dynamic lately and be able to lock down some much-needed wins.
Playoff Crew: Brewers
Congratulations to your NL Central division champion…Brewers. While it is not official, it’s all but certain they will take this division. With 13 games remaining, the Crew holds a 11.5 game lead and barring a collapse like we have never seen, the division is all but theirs. The Brewers have continued their winning ways of late, as they come into this series 7-3 over their last 10. Woodruff takes the hill today and he will be looking for a better outing than he had last time against the Cardinals. A game he would certainly like to forget, Woodruff got roughed up by the Cards for eight hits and six earned runs. The five innings he lasted in that game was the second shortest outing he has had all season. He dominated the Cards in an earlier start this season going into the seventh inning and only allowing three hits and one run. Woodruff has a powerful fastball that can allow him to pile up the strikeouts. Even though the Cardinals chased him after five innings he still had four K’s. Woodruff has had a couple tougher outings than we are used to seeing from him lately, allowing four runs to the Phillies and three runs to the Tigers, eventually taking the loss in both games. The way the Cardinals are playing, the Brewers are going to need the beginning of the season Woodruff to show up to have a shot at taking this one.
Brewers vs Cardinals: The Pick
There is a ton of value on the Cardinals in this one and it cannot be ignored. The hottest team in baseball is sitting at +180 against a guy that is slowing down toward the end of the season that St. Louis just roughed up. The Brewers, for all intents and purposes, know they have this division locked up and a ticket punched to the ALDS that will relax a good amount of the players. Look for a hot Cardinals team to take advantage.