The 2021 National League wild card game will provide irrefutable proof to support the idea of getting hot going into the playoffs matters in October, but will also supply evidence of the opposite. The Dodgers and Cardinals are both red hot. One of their season’s will end on Wednesday night.
The Dodgers have won 15 straight home games, the longest streak for the franchise since 1899. The Cardinals have won 11 straight road games.
St. Louis had a 17-game winning streak that just ended last week. Since the start of said streak, the Cardinals are 19-3. The Dodgers during that stretch are 17-3.
Max Scherzer has started 11 times for the Dodgers. The team is 11-0 in those games. The Cardinals have won eight straight Adam Wainwright starts, and 13 of the last 14.
“You kind of throw all streaks, all stats, everything out the window,” Scherzer said Tuesday. “It’s playoff baseball. Anything can happen.”
Scherzer has a 1.98 ERA and 1.96 FIP in his 11 starts, catapulting himself into consideration for the National League Cy Young Award. But his last two starts didn’t go so well, allowing 11 runs (10 earned) and 19 hits in 10⅓ innings. The Dodgers still won those starts, though in comeback fashion.
Scherzer noted his last start was his fifth time facing the Padres — all in the last three months — and he wasn’t fooling anyone last week. But he also mentioned his delivery was off kilter, and he wasn’t locating.
“When I’m off with a couple pitches, then it just opens up holes in my game to where, when I do make mistakes, they get burnt,” Scherzer said. “I was able to look at the video, come up with a good plan of what I wanted to attack, mechanically from what I see, worked on it over the past week.
“The ball feels really good coming out of my hand, now let’s just go out there and compete.”
The wild card game started in 2012, with the addition of the second wild card team in each league. In the 17 previous wild card games, including the Red Sox beating the Yankees in the American League wild card game on Tuesday, the oldest starting pitcher was Charlie Morton at 35 years old for the Rays in 2019.
Wainwright is 40, and Scherzer is 37. It’s the 19th career postseason start for Scherzer, and the 16th for Wainwright, who also has 13 relief appearances in October. Both have pitched over 100 postseason innings.
“You know what’s at stake,” Scherzer said.
In winner-take-all games under Dave Roberts, the Dodgers are 3-2. In elimination games, the Dodgers are 7-3 over the previous five postseasons.
“Wainwright is just as good a competitor as Max is. I think it’s going to be a great game,” Roberts said. “But I do think that for us, kind of leaning on our experience in the past is going to be helpful.”
Wild card game info
Teams: Dodgers (106-56) vs. Cardinals (90-72)
Location: Dodger Stadium
Time: 5:10 p.m.