It’s a bit early in a 7-game series to call a contest must-win but it seems that’s the situation St. Louis is in for the NLCS game 2 Nationals at Cardinals free pick. Two days after scoring 10 runs in the first inning against the Braves, St. Louis didn’t even get a hit until the 8th inning in the opener vs. Washington. The reward for the Cardinals for making it through that pitching gem? A date with a three time Cy Young Award winner on Saturday afternoon.
Washington Set to Put St. Louis in Huge Deficit
The Nationals sure appear to be a team of destiny in these 2019 playoffs. They outlasted a red hot Brewers team in the wild card game, took 3 of the last 4 from a 106 win Dodgers team in the NLDS, and braved a tough atmosphere in Busch Stadium on Friday to take a 1-0 lead in the LCS.
Washington is a -148 favorite with Max Scherzer on the bump in game two (STL +120). Scherzer should come into Saturday afternoon’s game confident after he struck out the LA side in relief in a NLDS game 2 win and threw 7 innings of 1 run ball in game 4. That being said, Scherzer looked human in the wild card game, giving up 2 home runs to the Brewers and allowing 3 runs in 5 innings. Scherzer also struggled on September 18th vs. St. Louis giving up 5 ER in 6-2/3.
On paper it looked like the Washington offense struggled in game one. The Nationals did belt out 10 hits though even though they were able to squeeze out just a 2-0 win. Anthony Rendon did get another hit on Friday and drew two walks, raising his postseason OBP to .452. Washington has also hit .330 as a team against St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright. Adam Eaton leads the way going 6-11 (.545) with a HR.
St. Louis’ Time to Bounce Back?
Bettors are expecting the Cardinals to even up the series in game 2 as roughly 62% of bettors are on the home team. Most would assume the Cardinals offense can’t continue to be as bad as it was in game one as they managed just 1 hit. The truth is though St. Louis has been held to a run or less in 3 of the last 4 postseason games and things don’t get any easier with Scherzer taking the hill Saturday.
Jose Martinez got the only hit for the Cardinals in game one and that was off the bench in a pinch hitting role. Paul Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna were a combined 0-8, but remain the Cardinals’ best chances for offense as they have both hit .360 this postseason. Goldschmidt is just 2-25 (.080) in his career vs. Scherzer though and the Cardinals have hit just .211 as a team vs. the Washington ace.
The Cardinals do have hope to even up the series and it relies on the right shoulder of Adam Wainwright. He was superb against the Braves 6 days ago, going 7.2 IP while allowing 4 hits and 0 ER while throwing 120 pitches. Wainwright also has a 2.56 ERA at home during the regular season. That would tend to lead towards a lower scoring game in this one (O/U 7).
NLDS Game 2 Nationals at Cardinals Free Pick
It’s hard not to like Washington in this one. The Cardinals are basically a batter down with Goldschmidt having a horrible career vs. Scherzer. The St. Louis offense as a whole has been putrid more often than not in these playoffs. Washington may have a hard time getting to Wainwright, but the way this team has played it seems like they’ll find a way.
Pick: Washington Nationals RL (-1.5) +135