After a dominating 8-0 victory, the St. Louis Cardinals head into game four of the NLDS with a commanding 2-1 lead. The Washington Nationals, who had the best record in the majors this year, are now faced with playing a win-or-go-home game to keep their World Series hopes alive (4.05pm ET, today).
St. Louis is “Outpitching” Washington
When the Cardinals reached the playoffs, they knew they had a tough opponent in the Nationals. Not only could the Washington players handle themselves with the bat, posting the ninth best batting average and 10th most runs scored in the National League, but even more than that, they were known for their pitching.
Anchored by Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals’ staff was one of the best in all of baseball. They finished fifth in the league in quality starts with 97 and were second in ERA (3.33), WHIP (1.22) and batting average (.237). All five of their starters won at least 10 games and Gonzalez led the league in wins with 21. In addition to the starting staff, the Nationals also had one of the league’s best bullpens. Closer Tyler Clippard saved 32 games for the team and set-up man Sean Burnett recorded 31 holds.
While the St. Louis Cardinals were no slouch in the pitching department either, they certainly were not expected to compare to the rotation of the Nationals. Unfortunately for Washington however, not only have the Cardinals, as per expectations, out hit the Nationals but so far, they have also out pitched them.
Here is a look at the lines of the six starters from the NLDS:
- Gio Gonzalez: 5 IP, 1 H, 2 ER, 7 BB, 5 SO
- Adam Wainwright: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 10 SO
- Jordan Zimmermann: 3 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 1 HR, 2 SO
- Jaime Garcia/Lance Lynn: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 HR, 5 BB, 9 SO
- Edwin Jackson: 5 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 1 HR, 4 SO
- Chris Carpenter: 5.2 IP, 7 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO
While neither team has pitched particularly well this postseason, in all three games, the Nationals have been outpitched by the Cardinals. Now down 2-1 and fighting for their postseason lives, Washington should be at least a little worried that the pitching match-ups for game four favor St. Louis.
Ross Detwiler vs. St. Louis Cardinals Offense
Taking the mound for Washington in game four is 26-year-old lefty, Ross Detwiler. On the season, Detwiler pitched very well for the Nationals in his best year of his career. He won 10 games, struck out 105 batters, had a WHIP of 1.22 and an ERA of 3.40.
While Detwiler will benefit from playing this do-or-die game at home, where he won’t have an advantage is in facing a Cardinals’ offense that has lit up the Nats for 20 runs in the past two games and that personally took it to Detwiler earlier in the season.
In his only start against the Cardinals this year, Detwiler was shelled to the line of seven runs, (three earned), four hits and five walks in just two and a third innings pitched. Unfortunately for the young Detwiler, this start is more than fresh in his memory and was the last start he made in the regular season.
Although Detwiler will have to learn to forget quickly, there is a reason to be optimistic if you are a Nationals fan. When Detwiler got rocked by the Cards, the game was at Busch Stadium. For Detwiler this year, playing on the road has been a huge nemesis as he has given up an ERA of 4.38. At home however, he has been nearly lights out giving up just an ERA of 2.59 and recording eight of his ten wins.
Since this was Detwiler’s first full season in the league, many of the Cardinals hitters have seen him just that one regular season game. As a team they are hitting .357 against him but only Carlos Beltran has more than two plate appearances against him. Beltran is 2-for-4 with a home run and walk.
Kyle Lohse vs. Washington Nationals Offense
Having been in the league 11 seasons, Lohse not only has a decent-sized sample against many of the Washington hitters, but he also has a pretty complete playoff resume.
Lohse, who has spent parts of his career with four different teams, is playing in his sixth postseason. Overall he has started five games and pitched in 10. He has thrown 31.2 innings, given up 18 earned runs, seven home runs, six walks and has struck out 31. He has a record of 1-4 and an ERA of 5.12.
While these numbers should be appealing to the Nats hitters, they may not mean anything as the 34-year-old Lohse was a completely different pitcher in 2012. He led the league in winning percentage with his 16-3 record, was seventh in innings pitched, fifth in ERA with 2.86 and fourth in WHIP with a solid 1.09. He also started and received a winning decision in the Cardinals one-game playoff against the Braves as he gave up just six hits and two runs in 5.2 innings pitched.
For as good as Lohse has been this season, his home stats do favor his road stats. His ERA on the road is 3.41 and just 2.33 at home and he is allowing a batting average of just .226 at home and .251 on the road. Lohse has also not had great success against Washington as the Nats hitters have a slash line of .310/.341/.530 against him.
Cardinals v Nationals Picks
With the team’s playoff life hanging by just a thread, Washington will definitely put forward their best in game four. Bet on the Nationals on the moneyline at odds of +100 with BetOnline Sportsbook (it is -106 with Bovada) as with their collective backs against the wall, Washington will give all it has to stay alive in the playoffs.