NL Wildcard Showdown: Los Angeles Dodgers at St. Louis Cardinals

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The rest of the month is going to be a crazy few weeks of baseball, especially in the National League. Going into Thursday, you have two division races that are extremely tight. The NL Central has 3 teams within 3.5 games of each other with the Cubs, Brewers (1 game back) and Cardinals (3.5 back).

The features the exact same with the Colorado Rockies in the lead, the Dodgers (1.5 back) and Diamondbacks (3.5 back) all fighting for a spot. To make things more interesting, in the wild-card race you currently have the Brewers and Cardinals currently holding the two wild card spots with the Dodgers (2 back) and Diamondbacks (3.5 back) right there in the thick of things. Every game is crucial at this point.

A couple of those teams that are fighting for playoff spots are going to get a chance to square off starting Thursday night as the Dodgers (79-67) travel to Busch Stadium to take on the Cardinals (81-55). The Dodgers will be sending ace Clayton Kershaw (7-5, 2.42 ERA) to the mound to square off with fellow southpaw Austin Gomber 5-0, 2.93 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 pm ET.

The money line for Thursday night’s game is set at the Los Angeles Dodgers -185 and the St. Louis Cardinals +174. The over/under on total runs scored stands at 7.5.

After Losing In World Series, Dodgers Fighting For Playoff Spot

What a difference a year can make. Last year the Dodgers won the NL pennant en route to a World Series appearance. This year, they are currently just hoping to make the playoffs. The Dodgers will be sending longtime ace Clayton Kershaw to the mound for the series opener.

On the season, Kershaw is 7-5 with a 2.42 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and opponents are hitting .220 against him. In 137.1 innings, he has 134 strikeouts, 21 walks and has allowed 14 home runs. In his last 3 starts, all Dodgers wins, he has gone a combined 21 innings, allowing 6 earned runs total and striking out 19. He will look to keep it going against the Cardinals Thursday.

On the offensive side, Justin Turner continues to rake over the last month or so. In the last 30 days Turner is hitting .366/.462/.673 with a 1.135 OPS. In that time he has 6 home runs, 22 runs batted in and has scored 22 runs. Albeit in only one game seeing Austin Gomber, he is also 2 for 2 against the Cardinals starter.

Cardinals Trying To Hang Onto Wild Card While Also Fighting For Division

The Cardinals realize that they don’t have a whole lot of room for error. If they were to be swept in this four-game series, the Cardinals would be on the outside looking in for the playoff race. To try to get off to a good start against the Dodgers, they will turn to lefty Austin Gomber. On the season, he is 5-0 with a 2.93 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and opponents are hitting .244 against him.

He has worked as both a reliever and a starter as he has appeared in 25 games, but he has only started 8 of those games. In 61.1 innings he has 51 strikeouts, 27 walks and 3 home runs allowed. He has also pitched pretty well in his last 3 starts, going a combined 19 innings, allowing 6 earned runs and striking out 15.

On the offensive side, Matt Carpenter has come back down to reality a little bit in the last 30 days. In that stretch, he is hitting .223/.362/.362 with a .724 OPS. During that time he has 2 home runs, 9 runs batted in and has scored 18 runs. If the Cardinals hope to hold onto a playoff spot, they need him to perform better than he has as of late.

Dodgers Pull A Little Closer In Wild Card Race

Austin Gomber has been solid. Last time he faced the Dodgers he only allowed 2 runs in 5 innings. He has also been solid over his last 6 starts, allowing 3 runs or fewer. The problem, though, is he is going against Clayton Kershaw. Especially this time of year, I just have a hard time betting against arguably one of the best pitchers in modern baseball. Throw in an offense that is capable of putting up runs in a hurry and I have to go with the Dodgers in this one. Take them at -185.

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