The normally dominant Cardinals have sputtered out to a 48-44 start, but even more concerning might be their 21-28 record at home. Injuries to two of their best offensive players in Matt Carpenter and Matt Holiday haven’t helped, but St. Louis usually prides itself in supplanting their starters with some of the best bench players in the MLB. They’re just 8-5 so far in series against division opponents, and that must improve down the stretch if they hope to lock up a wild card or even win their division. In the Cards’ lone series against the Dodgers, they dropped two of three in Los Angeles. This will be a vital series for St. Louis and will show whether or not they intend to turn around their poor play at home in order to make a push for the playoffs.
Overall, the Dodgers have had yet another successful season thus far. They sit at 52-42, 10 games over .500 and in possession of second place in the NL West. They're in no danger of losing this spot due to their eight and a half game lead on the third-place Rockies, but the Giants sit only five and a half games out of reach. Los Angeles has evaded the injury bug for the most part so far, but their ace Clayton Kershaw is currently on the shelf. However, he should return soon and Brandon McCarthy has stepped up to fill his spot in the rotation in the meantime. Power hitters like Adrian Gonzalez and Justin Turner have led the way on offense while surprising young rookies such as Corey Seager and Trayce Thompson have turned heads with their bats as well. This balanced attack poses a threat to any opponent and should serve the Dodgers well moving forward.
Michael Wacha will be taking the mound for St. Louis on Friday. Normally this would bode well for the Cards, but Wacha has been off his game this season in a major way. He currently holds a 5-7 record and a 4.45 ERA, both well off his career marks of 31-21 and 3.50. To make matters worse, he has a 4.85 ERA at home and a 5.04 ERA in night games. Though all these factors are stacked against him, Wacha will be in front of his home crowd and has allowed just a .256 average to left-handed hitters. He lost his only start to the Dodgers this season, going just four innings and giving up six runs on eight hits.
For the Dodgers, interim starter Brandon McCarthy will make the start. Though he’s only done so three times this season, two of them have resulted in wins and he’s racked up 22 strikeouts in those outings. On the other hand, his 1.69 ERA doesn’t reflect his career 4.10 ERA and is bound to regress soon. Also, his only no-decision came on the road in his last start against the Diamondbacks, in which he went six scoreless innings but failed to receive the necessary run support.
- Sports.net’s top tip: Though many flaws in Wacha’s game could point to a Dodgers win, it’s uncertain as to whether or not McCarthy’s skills can be trusted. It would be safer to back the Cardinals to win 5-2.