This week’s Sunday Night Baseball game is a critical game in the National League wild-card race between the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals. Los Angeles has won the first three games of the series, including a 17-4 blowout on Saturday. The Dodgers are also -145 favorites to win Sunday’s game.
Obviously, it’s vital that the Cardinals get a win on Sunday. They’ve lost four games in a row and six of their last nine, doing so at the wrong time of year. That skid has dropped them to 6.5 games back in the NL Central. On the bright side, the Cardinals are only half a game out of the second wild-card spot.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, have won four straight, enabling them to take over first place in the NL West. Of course, that lead is only half a game over the Rockies, who they play for three games starting on Monday. Not only are the Dodgers trying to hold onto their lead atop the division but they also need to make sure they secure at least a wild-card spot if the Rockies or Diamondbacks catch them.
Have You Heard?
Ross Stripling will get the start for Los Angeles on Sunday. If you’re not familiar with him yet, you should have because he was an all-star this year. Stripling has actually had a rather odd season, bouncing back and forth between the rotation and bullpen. However, he recently took back his spot in the rotation from Alex Wood. Whether he’s starting or relieving, Stripling is 8-6 with a 2.61 ERA this year.
In limited action facing Stripling, the Cardinals roster is just 5 for 26 (.192) against him. He hasn’t faced St. Louis this season, so most of those at-bats came the last two seasons before Stripling established himself as a frontline starter. This is also a good time for him to face the Cardinals, as most of their lineup is going through a slump. Thus, the four-game losing streak.
Guess Who’s Back
The Cardinals will give veteran Adam Wainwright the ball on Sunday night. This will be Wainwright’s second start since coming off the DL and just his third start since the middle of April. He dominated during his minor league rehab assignments but allowed four runs on seven hits (including two home runs) over five innings against the Pirates on Monday, and he’ll have to be much better on Sunday.
Not surprisingly, most of the Los Angeles lineup is swinging a hot bat. The likes of Justin Turner, Yasiel Puig, Yasmani Grandal, and Joc Pederson have stood out most of all over the past week. Those four have combined for nine home runs over the past week, with five of them coming from Puig. Wainwright has a decent track against most of the Dodgers hitters, but he has his work cut out for him.
Time to Sweep
The Cardinals are desperate, but that desperation isn’t going to help Wainwright slow down a red-hot Dodgers lineup. Stripling will do his part and should hand a lead over to the Los Angeles bullpen. Bet on the Dodgers -145 to beat the Cardinals on Sunday night to complete the sweep.