10:10 PM EST – Line Dodgers -190, Over/Under: 8
A potential Playoff Preview is on tap in the City of Angels, as the St. Louis Cardinals continue their West Coast Road Trip, meeting the Major League-leading Los Angeles Dodgers in the first chapter of a three-game series from Dodger Stadium, in Los Angeles, California. After emerging from the all-Star in scorching form, winning twelve out of fifteen games, the Cardinals (58-52, 2nd in NL Central) have fallen back to the pack a bit, dropping five of their last seven outings. This really downturn really couldn’t come at a worse time for St. Louis, who during their aforementioned surge managed to briefly take the NL Central lead away from the Chicago Cubs, whom they bested in a three-game set from Busch Stadium, two games to one. Since that point, Mike Shildt’s charges were swept in a two-game Interleague matchup with the Oakland Athletics, causing them to relinquish their tenuous grip on the Division back to the Cubs. With that said, despite trailing them by a scant 1.5 games within the Standings, their proverbial safety net, the Wild Card is in danger of dissipating, with both the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals each trailing them by just a half-game. Needless to say, this isn’t the most ideal of times to be facing the juggernaut that is the Dodgers, whom the Cards do happen to be 4-0 against this season. A great deal of this team’s success since the Midsummer Classic can be attributed to their newfound power surge, which has propelled them up the Standings; St. Louis has scored 103 Runs, hit Thirty-Three Homers (Second in the NL since the All-Star Break), and posted a much-improved .432 Slugging Percentage over the past twenty-two games. It seems like Paul Goldschmidt (.260 BA, 110 G, 07 H, 67 R, 13 2B, 25 HR, 58 RBI, 49 BB, 115 K) took his first All-Star snub in seven years rather poorly, for ever since the Break, the First Baseman has been on fire, batting .284 (up from .254) and slugging .667 (up from .426), while tagging Nine Home Runs and driving in Twenty-One Runs over the last twenty-one contests, at one point even going yard in six consecutive games. With so many contenders serving as buyers at the Trade Deadline, Shildt & Co. stood largely pat, hoping that the healthy return of Marcell Ozuna (.258 BA, 80 G, 77 H, 53 R, 15 2B, 20 HR, 62 RBI, 33 BB, 70 K) and Matt Carpenter (.215 BA, 82 G, 64 H, 43 R, 12 2B, 10 HR, 29 RBI, 44 BB, 90 K), who both experienced varying spells on the Disabled List, will be enough to sustain this current run of form from the plate. Taking the mound tonight will be Miles Mikolas (7-11, 4.00 ERA, 22 GS, 126.0 IP, 133 H, 56 ER, 17 HR, 21 BB, 90 K, 1.222 WHIP), who has alternated losses and wins over his last Five Starts. Serving as the Cardinals’ No. One in the Rotation, the Righthander has endured a very uneven campaign, though that can be said about most of the Starters in general. A year after leading the National League with Eighteen Wins, 186 Hits, and 1.3 Walks per Nine Innings, the 30-Year Old has regressed, with his ERA bloating from 2.83 in 2018 to 4.00 this season. With that said, he’s performed well enough of late, particularly when we saw him last; though he took the loss in a 0-2 defeat to the Cubs, Mikolas was solid, permitting One Run on Six Hits over 5.2 Innings of labor, with Three Strikeouts and a Walk to his credit.
Meanwhile, the juggernaut that is the Dodgers (74-40, 1st in NL West) continues to march forward to the Playoffs, virtually unfazed by the moves that their contemporaries have made at the Trade Deadline. Then again, when you own a ridiculous seventeen-game lead within your own division, coupled with a 7.5-game cushion in the National League Standings, the decision to ultimately stand pat is a rather easy one to make. However, the two-time National League Champions weren’t completely quiet at the Deadline, for instead of bolstering their Bullpen, as many figured they would, they opted instead to keep one of the prized jewels of their Farm System, Dustin Maye, whom they ultimately promoted to the Majors with his first Start coming in Friday Night’s 2-5 Loss to the San Diego Padres. The young prospect gave up Three Earned Runs on Nine Hits over 5.2 Innings, with Three Strikeouts and Zero Walks, tossing Ninety-Seven Pitches in his debut. While just about every team asked about his availability, Dave Roberts & Co. refused to part ways with the red-headed Righthander. This is indeed an interesting move for a club whom have enjoyed an embarrassment of riches within their Starting Rotation of late, though have a relatively thin complement of Relievers leading up to All-Star Closer, Kenley Janson (3-3, 3.59 ERA, 42 G, 25 SV, 42.2 IP, 33 H, 17 ER, 6 HR, 11 BB, 57 K, 1.031 WHIP). There’s a chance that Maye will be the next Dodgers’ ace for the next decade to come, but as of right now, it’s going to be difficult for him to receive consistent work in the Rotation. Needless to say, there is truth to the notion that the Dodgers are indeed gambling on their current Bullpen to keep it together for what figures to be another lengthy Playoff Run, so that they could instead retain the services of a premier asset. In the meantime, a big reason as to why Maye will find it difficult to latch onto the Rotation is the presence of Clayton Kershaw (10-2, 2.85 ERA, 19 GS, 123.0 IP, 103 H, 39 ER, 15 HR, 27 BB, 122 K, 1.057 WHIP), who has lost just once in his last Nine Starts. The decorated Lefthander has taken a bit of backseat to his teammates, Hyun-Jin Ryu (11-2, 1.53 ERA, 21 GS, 135.2 IP, 111 H, 23 ER, 10 HR, 16 BB, 117 K, 0.936 WHIP) and Walker Buehler (10-2, 3.22 ERA, 21 GS, 131.2 IP, 111 H, 47 ER, 16 HR, 20 BB, 152 K, 0.997 WHIP), this season, which should give you an idea as to just how formidable Roberts’ cadre of aces actually is. With that said, three-time Cy Young still remains dominant on his day, and as he transitions into the next stage of illustrious career, he figures to play a major role for the only franchise that he’s ever played for. When we last saw him, Kershaw was a bit shaky in an eventual 8-2 victory over the Padres, yielding a pair of Runs on Six Hits, registering as many Strikeouts as Walks (5) over the duration of Six Innings. Over the course of his eleven-year career, he’s faced the Cardinals on seventeen occasions, going 7-5 against them with a 3.07 ERA and 1.150 WHIP, sporting a 3.11 Strikeout/Walk Ratio, and hasn’t lost to them in five meetings dating back to 2014.