Each day during the MLB Playoffs, LT Profits seek out a total that does not add up and offers the most value that day. Here is their Playoff Total Value Play of the Day for Friday.
Even though this could quite possibly be a matchup of the two best pitchers in the National League, we feel that the tiny total actually gives value to the ‘over’ when right-hander Adam Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals (90-72, 39-42 away) pay a visit to southpaw Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers (94-68, 45-36 home) in Game 1 of their NLDS series from Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, CA at 6:37 ET in a game televised on FOX Sports 1.
The posted total at Pinnacle Sports is 5½ for this contest with the current odds on the ‘over’ set at -113.
Clinched Final Day
The Cardinals appeared to be well on their way to the National League Central title with a couple of weeks to go, but they then had a tougher dogfight than expected with the Pittsburgh Pirates catching fire, not clinching the division until the final day of the season when the Pirates lost to the Cincinnati Reds. The Cards knew that result before their season finale in Arizona, so they were able to scratch Wainwright that day and save him for this evening.
The Dodgers had an easier time clinching the National League West and they remain the favorites to win the National League pennant this season, which they have been since before the year. However Los Angeles was not the best MLB pick in the National League with that honor going to the Washington Nationals, which is why the Dodgers are facing the Central Division Champions while the Nationals drew the Wild Card Playoff winners from San Francisco.
Cy Young Favorite But…
Kershaw is the favorite to win the National League Cy Young Award for the second straight season and the third time in his career already at the age of 26. After all he finished an unfathomable 21-3 with a 1.77 ERA and 0.86 WHIP, along with a sensational ratio of 239 strikeouts vs. 31 walks in 198.1 innings! He closed out the season in style allowing one run on seven hits in eight innings with 11 strikeouts in the division clinching win vs. the Giants.
However, the Cardinals are one team that has given Kershaw more trouble than most of the other teams in the league. In his last seven starts vs. St. Louis since the 2012 season, Kershaw has a 5.06 ERA and a higher than normal (for him) 1.34 WHIP over 42.2 innings, and do not forget that Clayton allowed seven earned runs on 10 hits on four innings to the Cardinals in St. Louis in the deciding game of the NLCS last season, allowing Cards to go to the World Series.
Cy Young Second Choice But…
Wainwright is probably the second choice for the Cy Young, and remember that he did get the rather controversial nod to start for the National League over Kershaw in the All-Star Game. That is not to say that Wainwright was not a worthy choice though, especially with Kershaw missing about six weeks with a back injury early in the year, as “Waino” finished at 20-9 with a 2.38 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 179 strikeouts vs. 50 walks.
However, Wainwright is facing a Dodger offense that is seemingly peaking at the perfect time as Los Angeles batted .290 as a team overall while averaging a whopping 7.50 runs over the final 10 games of the regular season. And the arm orientation of the opposing pitcher made very little difference as the Dodgers batted .284 and averaged 7.33 runs vs. right-handers during this span.
Secondly, Wainwright was all set to go against the Diamondbacks on Sunday and was not scratched until a few minutes before the game. Remember that starting pitchers are creatures of habit and it remains to be seen if being thrown off of his normal routine between starts affects Waino in any way here.
Bullpens Help the ‘over’
Finally, once these two bullpens get involved, ‘under’ players should become very nervous in a game with such a low posted total. The Dodgers finished 22nd in the Major Leagues with a 3.80 bullpen ERA, and that figure rose to a dreadful 5.01 over the last 10 games! The Cardinals finished 17th in pen ERA at 3.62 and they have remained consistently mediocre by exactly matching that bullpen ERA in their last 10 games.
Add this all up and as great as these starting pitchers have been, going ‘over’ this miniscule total seems like the way to go in Game 1 of the NLDS from Los Angeles on Friday.
MLB Pick: Cardinals, Dodgers ‘over’ 5½ (-113)