Two teams vying to stay in the National League Wild Card race will face off at Petco Park Friday when the St. Louis Cardinals come to San Diego to face the Padres. Both teams are hovering at or just above .500, and both teams are fighting for their playoff lives. The difference is that the NL Central has so much parity that the Cardinals are right in the division race, and the Padres are chasing the Los Angeles Dodgers. The moneyline on this game is San Diego -115.
Cardinals Try to Rebound
The St. Louis Cardinals come into play Friday with a record of 40-39 but are just three games behind first-place Chicago. The Redbirds are just two games behind the second Wild Card spot, currently held by Philadelphia. St. Louis has lost three in a row after a quick two-game sweep at the hands of the Oakland Athletics. The Cardinals managed just three runs in the two games.
They will send Michael Wacha to the mound to open things up against the Padres. Wacha is 5-3 with a 5.59 ERA on the season. He has struck out 60 hitters in 66 innings. Wacha won his last start against the Angels on Friday, allowing one run on five hits over six innings in the victory.
The Cardinals’ offense has gone into hibernation. They have three hitters hitting over .260, and the leader is shortstop Paul DeJong at .263. Leadoff hitter Matt Carpenter has done next to nothing, hitting just .217. More importantly, his on-base percentage is a paltry .326. This has had a trickle-down effect on the rest of the lineup. Paul Goldschmidt is hitting just .253, and Marcell Ozuna is hitting .261, but he has hit 20 home runs and driven in 62 runs, which is good for fifth in the National League.
Padres in Thick of Wild Card Race
San Diego comes into the weekend series sitting at .500 with a 40-40 record. This puts them in a tie for third in the National League West with Arizona, 14 games behind division leader Los Angeles. However, they are just 2.5 games behind the Phillies for the second Wild Card spot.
They will send lefty Eric Lauer to the mound to get going against the Cardinals. Lauer is 5-7 on the season with a 4.32 ERA. He has struck out 63 hitters in 81 1/3 innings pitched. In his last outing Friday, he went seven innings in a losing effort to the Pirates, giving up just one run in a 2-1 Padres loss. He has lost three of his last four starts, but he has gone at least six innings in three of those outings.
The Padres’ offense is led by first baseman Eric Hosmer. Hosmer is hitting .287 on the season. Manny Machado is hitting .280 with 17 home runs on the season. Hunter Renfroe is hitting just .248, but he has hit 25 long balls on the season. Hosmer leads the team with 55 RBI as we approach the halfway point in the season.
The Cardinals have been consistently inconsistent this season. Michael Wacha has followed suit, with a good outing generally followed by a bad outing. So, common sense says to put money on the Padres in this one.