When the dust settled and the first game of the NLDS ended Sunday afternoon, neither the Washington Nationals nor the St Louis Cardinals could say they were particularly proud of how they performed (Game 2: 4.30pm ET, Today).
Nationals ace Gio Gonzalez walked an incredible seven batters but allowed only two runs and three total hits. The Cardinals offense looked anemic and shadows played a role as well as both teams had problems with balls in the outfield.
With the Nationals getting the win and the 1-0 lead in the series, they can breathe a sigh of relief. Still, both teams are going to want to forget about this game and move forward. The Cardinals benefit by playing the crucial game at home but they will need to find some offensive consistency if they want that home field crowd to get into the heads of the Washington players.
Jordan Zimmermann vs. the St. Louis Cardinals Offense
Without phenom Stephen Strasburg, not many teams would have been able to still boast one of the best pitching staffs in the National League. Luckily for the Nationals, they were one of those teams that still could get by even after losing their ace.
Washington’s World Series stock didn’t drop when they had to shut down Strasburg because of guys like Gio Gonzalez, who won game one against the Cardinals, and righty Jordan Zimmermann, who takes the mound for game two.
Zimmermann, the 26-year-old out of Wisconsin, pitched well for the Nationals in 2012, his third year in the league. After winning just three games in 2009, one in 2010 and eight in 2011, Zimmermann got the full 32 starts under his belt this season and made the most of it. He finished the year with a 12-8 record, 1.17 WHIP and 2.94 ERA.
Playing in such a large ballpark like Nationals Park in Washington, it is somewhat curious that Zimmermann actually has a better ERA on the road. Unfortunately for Zimmermann, his road ERA is the worst when playing at Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals and site of game two of the NLDS.
Against the Cardinals this year, Zimmermann has not seen very much success neither on the road nor at home. At Busch Stadium, Zimmermann had one start. He went 6.1 innings and gave up three runs and seven hits.
Overall, those numbers aren’t bad for one start but when you combine them with his one start against the Cardinals at home, Zimmermann’s numbers against this team have not been good. In two starts against St. Louis this year, Zimmermann has pitched just ten innings. In those ten innings he has given up 11 runs, 15 hits, two home runs and three walks. He allowed the team to hit .349 against him and had his worst ERA of the season against a team at a lofty 9.90.
Looking at the Cardinals’ career stats against Zimmermann tell the story as to why he struggled so mightily against this team this year:
- Carlos Beltran: 12 at-bats, .333 average
- Matt Holliday: 8 at-bats, .375 average, 1 HR
- Jon Jay: 8 at-bats, .375 average
- Yadier Molina: 11 at-bats, .455 average
Jaime Garcia vs. the Washington Nationals Offense
Part of the reason it is Garcia and not more established playoff veteran Chris Carpenter pitching the do-or-die game two is because of just how good Garcia was at home this year as compared to how bad he was on the road.
On the 2012 season, Garcia pitched in 20 games. He allowed 53 earned runs, seven home runs and struck out 98. His ERA was 3.92 as he worked to a 7-7 record.
To break up these numbers, Garcia was 4-2 at home and 3-5 on the road. He had an ERA of just 2.82 at Busch Stadium and 5.02 elsewhere. 19 of his earned runs came at home while 34 came on the road. His batting average at home was 17 points lower and most importantly, Garcia gave up zero home runs at home while he yielded seven long balls on the road.
To make another comparison of Garcia to the man opposing him on Monday is how well each pitched against the other team. Although Zimmermann had his season worst ERA against the Cardinals, Garcia too had his against the Nationals. In one start against Washington, Garcia was even worse than Zimmermann giving up six runs in 5.1 inning pitched including two home runs. His ERA was 10.13.
Again, these numbers can be explained by the success the Washington hitters have against Garcia.
For the seven Nationals hitters that have faced the Cards lefty, their combined average is .329 against him. Jayson Werth is 4-of-12 with a home run, Mike Morse and Danny Espinosa are 4-of-9 and the rookie Bryce Harper has one hit, a home run, in three at-bats against Garcia.
The Cardinals are the second highest scoring team in the league as they average 4.7 runs a game. They lead the league in hits with 9.4 per game. The Nationals meanwhile are second best in the league in giving up hits as they yield on average only eight per game. Washington also has the second best defense giving up just 3.7 runs a game.
Washington leads St. Louis in runs give up, team ERA and defensive hits allowed. St. Louis leads in runs scored, offensive hits, walks, and defensive walks allowed.
Nationals at Cardinals Picks
Watching Gio Gonzalez give out seven free passes and still lose the game must have been tough on St. Louis. They battled with the Nationals and until a late pinch hit, were in a position to win the game.
Because the Cardinals do have a better offense and comparable pitching, they should win this game. They just need to take advantage of playing at home and of their opportunities to score runs.
- For this reason, take the Cardinals to even this series before heading back to play game three in Washington.
Check out the betting lines with BetOnline Sportsbook and Bovada.