Look for the road team with the more rested starting pitcher to emerge victorious in a battle of aces Wednesday night when Adam Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals pay a visit to Jon Lester and the Boston Red Sox in Game 1 of the World Series from Fenway Park in Boston, MA at 8:07 ET in a game televised nationally on FOX.
The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has St. Louis as a road underdog for this contest at current odds of +108.
Both of these teams have had ample time to set up their rotations for the series, as the Cardinals wrapped up their NLCS in six games on Friday and the Red Sox ended the ALCS Saturday, thus allowing the two staff aces to square off in this opening game.
Now, each of these teams finished second in its respective league in batting, with Boston batting .277 during the season to finish second in the American League behind only the team it just eliminated in the ALCS, the Detroit Tigers, while St. Louis finished just one percentage point behind the Colorado Rockies in the National League at .269 without the benefit of the altitude.
So just like the rest of this series, the Game 1 winner should be decided by which pitcher does a better job against the opponent’s potent offense, and while both aces are capable, Wainwright is simply better. The veteran is coming off of possibly his best season in the Major Leagues as he went 19-9 with a 2.94 ERA, and Wainwright had unprecedented command with 219 strikeouts vs. 35 walks!
That scintillating command has continued over his three post-season starts where Wainwright is 2-1 with a 1.57 ERA while striking out 20 batters in 23 innings with just one lonely walk. Furthermore, Wainwright was certainly not to blame for his only playoff loss as he allowed two runs on six hits in seven innings of the NLCS vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers in his last start, which came on Monday of last week meaning he is making this start on eight days rest!
In case you were wondering, Wainwright has made 12 starts this year on more than the customary four days rest combining the regular season and the playoffs, and in those starts, he has a 1.61 ERA and 0.94 WHIP with 82 strikeouts vs. 16 walks in 95 innings, and four of his five Complete Games this year have come on extended rest!
Now, take nothing away from Lester as he finished 15-8 for Boston in a nice comeback season after going 9-14 with a 4.82 ERA last year. However, his 3.75 ERA this season, while a large improvement over last year, was still a bit on the high side considering his mound opponent here, and Lester was not especially sharp in his last start in Game 5 of the ALCS in Detroit last Thursday despite winning 4-3, as he was pulled after throwing 98 pitches in 5.1 innings.
All things considered, we feel that the value lies with Wainwright and the Cardinals as underdogs in Game 1, even with this game in Boston on Wednesday.
MLB Pick: Cardinals +108 (Game 1)