I feel strangely optimistic about this series.
I’m going to share some shocking news. The Dodgers are one of the best teams in baseball. I know, I know you’re going to have to sit down to process that. If it weren’t for the Yankees, they would be the best team in baseball, with a similar record to the Astros, but a run differential nearly 50 runs greater. But those pesky Yankees have a few wins on the Dodgers and a better run differential. They’ll have to settle for the best in the National League.
There are some familiar names on why they’re so good and some not so familiar names. Clayton Kershaw, who the Cardinals miss, newly acquired and wannabe Brave Freddie Freeman, the extremely dependable Mookie Betts, and future $200+ million man Trea Turner are performing pretty much exactly how you’d expect. They also have a list of underperforming names – Max Muncy has an 85 wRC+, Justin Turner is finally starting to show his age, Cody Bellinger’s baseball talents were sucked out by the Nerdlucks at some point, and Craig Kimbrel has an enormous disparity between his ERA and his advanced stats. So Kimbrel is probably still good.
Actor Will Smith has decided to try his talents at baseball and he sure slaps the hell out of the baseball, having become one of the best catchers in baseball. Gavin Lux is sort of their Brendan Donovan, but everyone saw him coming, since he was one of the best prospects in baseball. Well his performance is matching his talent. I guess their current DH – according to Roster Resource – is Jake Lamb, who is not very good, but who is off to a blazing hot first nine games with the Dodgers.
Just going by the roster they currently have, their bullpen is…. not scary. There’s Kimbrel. Evan Phillips has been amazing with a 1.59 ERA. But thanks to injuries to Daniel Hudson (2.22 ERA, 2.43 xFIP) and Blake Treinen (1.99 ERA, 3.25 xFIP last year) specifically, I’m just not seeing any individual players aside from Phillips who makes me think “oh we’re not scoring this inning” – You know aside from the offense giving me that feeling the past two weeks, independent of who’s on the mound.
Tuesday – 6:45 PM
Mitch White (3.38 ERA/3.73 FIP/3.96 xFIP) vs. Matthew Liberatore (4.74 ERA/5.14 FIP/5.21 xFIP)
The Cardinals will be using an opener for the first game. Jordan Hicks will face the top of the lineup and possibly most of the lineup the first time through the order. He will then give the ball to Liberatore. Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but this is legitimately the first time I can remember the Cardinals ever using an opener? Like is this the first time ever? It doesn’t really count if it’s a pseudo bullpen game I don’t think, which they’ve done before this year.
Liberatore has his work cut out for him, but the Dodgers have been – so far this year – just outside of the top ten on offense against left-handed pitcher with a 109 wRC+. A consequence of having a mostly left-handed lineup. And the replacements they have just don’t compare – Hanser Alberto and Trayce Thompson. White is decent but hittable.
My pick: Dodgers
Wednesday – 6:45 PM
Tony Gonsolin (1.62 ERA/3.36 FIP/3.82 xFIP) vs. Adam Wainwright (3.15 ERA/3.70 FIP/3.77 xFIP)
You don’t see ERA-FIP disparities like the very often. Gonsolin is DUE as hell to have a bad game. He’s a good pitcher, not great. I’m sure the saber savvy Dodgers fans are curious how long he can keep this up. The not saber savvy Dodgers fans are… mad at me for suggesting Gonsolin isn’t great probably. Enjoy the ride for however long that lasts.
Wainwright is Wainwright. Fortunately – or unfortunately I guess – Waino lost in my last predicted Wainwright game, and it would have been awkward to try and pretend like I thought Wainwright would lose for the sake of a superstition.
My pick: Cardinals
Thursday – 6:15 PM
Tyler Anderson (3.15 ERA/3.36 FIP/3.93 xFIP) vs. Dakota Hudson (4.00 ERA/4.36 FIP/4.77 xFIP)
Tyler Anderson is why the Dodgers are so frustrating. They clearly saw something in Anderson that they liked and believed they could mold him into a good pitcher. Other teams thought that too, with Anderson spending his first four years at Coors Field for the Rockies. But he wasn’t good with the Giants, he wasn’t good with the Pirates, and he wasn’t good with the Mariners. But he’s good with the Dodgers because of course.
I don’t know why, but I’m getting a very strong vibe of a frustrating Hudson start where he nonetheless ends up pitching like 5 innings with one earned run with 10 baserunners, or something ridiculous like that. I mean we’ve seen that start a million times, I do know why I think that.
My pick: Cardinals
Individual Game Record: 22-19
Series Record: 5-7
In my defense for the series predictions, I basically punted the Cubs series because I couldn’t pick the Cardinals to lose to the Cubs (I knew they weren’t going 5-0), so I should be 6-6.