NL Wild Card Game Preview

nl wild card

The NL Wild Card stage is set. For one team, it means the reigning World Series Champion, having the second-best record in the NL and coming down to the last game of the season, being demoted to this game. For the other, September heroics (yet again) and a historic 17-game win streak propelled them into this game. The Los Angeles Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals, meeting in another installment of postseason drama between the two franchises.

St. Louis Cardinals

Mike Shildt, the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, summed up his teams’ thoughts the best by saying, “If we’re going to go where we want to go, we’d like to go to the team that won it the previous year. We might as well start with it right off the bat.”

This offers a good insight into the how the Cardinals face adversity. I believe that this attitude also accounts for their fantastic run at the end of the season that has gotten them to this point. This is not a St. Louis Cardinals team that will take the Wild Card opportunity for granted.

Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers are coming off of a very disappointing end to their season, due to no fault of their own. The Dodgers are the defending World Series Champions. They tied for the most wins in franchise history with 106. The team with the next highest number of wins in the National League is the Milwaukee Brewers with 95 wins. Oh, except the San Francisco Giants, another team in the NL West, happened to win 107 games this season, one more than the Dodgers. Thus, the Giants won the division, leaving the Dodgers to have to settle for the wild card game.

NL Wild Card: What You Need To Know

Los Angeles DodgersSt. Louis Cardinals
58-23 home (NL best)
48-33 away
45-36 home
45-36 away
ManagerDave Roberts (6th Season)Mike Shildt (4th season)
Starting PitcherMax Scherzer, RHP
1-0, 1.98 ERA, 89 Ks with Dodgers
8-4, 2.76 ERA, 147 Ks with Washington
Adam Wainwright, RHP
17-7, 3.05 ERA, 174 Ks
Top HittersTrea Turner, 2B
MLB-leading 195 hits, 32 SBs, 319 total bases
.338, 9 HR, 24 RBIs with Dodgers
.322, 18 HR, 49 RBIs with Washington
Corey Seager, SS, .306, 16 HR, 57 RBIs
AJ Pollock, LF, .297, 21 HR, 69 RBIs
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, .294, 31 HR, 99 RBIs
Nolen Arenado, 3B, .255, 34 HR, 105 RBIs
Tyler O’Neill, LF, .286, 34 HR, 80 RBIs, 15 SBs
Top RelieversKenley Jansen, RHP, 4-4, 2.22 ERA, 38 out of 43 saves
Blake Treinen, RHP, 6-5, 1.99 ERA, 7 saves
Alex Reyes, RHP, 10-8, 3.24 ERA, 29 out of 34 saves
Giovanny Gallegos, RHP, 6-5, 3.02 ERA, 14 saves
Winning Streak15-game win streak at Dodger Stadium
at end of season (franchise record)
17-game win streak
(franchise record)
Playoff Streak9th straight
Defending World Series Champs
3rd straight
11 World Series Championships
InjuriesMax Muncy, 1B, left elbow
Edmundo Sosa, SS, right wrist
Yadier Molina, C, right shoulder

St. Louis Cardinals vs Los Angeles Dodgers: An NL Playoff History

1985 NLCS

St. Louis Cardinals 4; Los Angeles Dodgers 2

1 at LA; Dodgers 4, Cardinals 1

2 at LA; Dodgers 8, Cardinals 2

3 at St. Louis; Cardinals 4, Dodgers 2

4 at St. Louis; Cardinals 12, Dodgers 2

5 at St. Louis; Cardinals 3, Dodgers 2

6 at LA; Cardinals 7, Dodgers 5

2004 NLDS

St. Louis Cardinals 3, Los Angeles Dodgers 1

1 at St. Louis; Cardinals 8, Dodgers 3

2 at St. Louis, Cardinals 8, Dodgers 3

3 at LA, Dodgers 4, Cardinals 0

4 at LA, Cardinals 6, Dodgers 2

2009 NLDS

Los Angeles Dodgers 3, St. Louis Cardinals 0

1 at LA, Dodgers 5, Cardinals 3

2 at LA, Dodgers 3, St. Louis 2

3, at St. Louis, Dodgers 5, St. Louis 1

2013 NLCS

St. Louis Cardinals 4, Los Angeles Dodgers 3

1 at St. Louis, Cardinals 3, Dodgers 2; 13 innings

2 at St. Louis, Cardinals 1, Dodgers 0

3 at LA, Dodgers 3, Cardinals 0

4, at LA, Cardinals 4, Dodgers 2

5 at LA, Dodgers 6, Cardinals 4

6 at St. Louis, Cardinals 9, Dodgers 0

2014 NLDS

St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers 1

1 at LA, Cardinals 10, Dodgers 9

2, at LA, Dodgers 3, Cardinals 2

3 at St. Louis, Cardinals 3, Dodgers 1

Game 4 at St. Louis, Cardinals 3, Dodgers 2

NL Wild Card: Final Thoughts

Even though the Los Angeles Dodgers are coming into this Wild Card Game as a heavy favorite, I don’t believe that it will be a walk in the park to get by the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals have been on a roll since the beginning of September, and that high could very likely carry them through the wild card game in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, the San Francisco Giants winning the division broke a snap of the Dodgers streak of winning it eight times in a row. It also has to be somewhat demeaning to win 106 games, then be relegated to a wild card spot; a winner-take-all, one-game playoff.

To me, the most interesting part of this is that three former teammates will be reunited on the field once again: Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina for the Cardinals and Albert Pujols of the Dodgers. The last time they played on a team together, the trio won a World Series Title. That was 10 years ago. At that time, Pujols reigned supreme in the Gateway to the West, with everyone else on the team playing a backup roll. Pujols left the team because he wanted to capitalize as much as he could on his playing ability, and he was demanding a ten-year contract, which the Cardinals refused to offer, mostly due to the fact that he was injury-prone.

NL Wild Card: My Thoughts

However, Wainwright and Molina gave their all to the team they had played their entire careers for. They negotiated contracts or extensions when it was time to do so. The last two seasons, the teammates have worked together to make sure that they could play out the end of their careers together, with the Cardinals.

The three baseball legends will take the field together again on Tuesday night. It could very likely be the last time which they do so. Pujols, who is 41, was picked up by the Dodgers during this season. He is under contract only for the duration of this year. In contrast, Wainwright (40) and Molina (39), have each negotiated another season with the Birds on the Bat. They each received raises from this season’s salary, as they have proven themselves, once again, to be the superstars that they are, both on and off the field.

It seems apropos that the journey these three players have been on will be converging in a one-game playoff at the twilight of their careers. I for one am waiting with bated breath to witness this game that promises to be another one for the history books.



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