Unlike the American League, where the Wild Card matchup was not known until the final day of the season, the picture in the National League has been clear for some time. The Los Angeles Dodgers are hosting the St. Louis Cardinals.
In one corner, we have the defending World Series champions and the club with 2021’s highest payroll, by a wide margin. The Los Angeles Dodgers are a stacked team that notched 106 victories this season but still couldn’t manage to outflank the Giants in the NL West. Now they find themselves one loss away from an early winter.
In the other corner, we have baseball hottest team. On July 31st, the Cardinals were 52-52, seven games behind the Padres for the second Wild Card spot. But they stormed through the end of the season, going 38-20, including a remarkable 17-game winning streak, and finished seven games ahead of their nearest competitors, the Reds.
On the mound will be two veterans who each already have World Series rings. 37-year-old Max Scherzer will toe the slab for the Dodgers, just over two years after starting 2019’s National League Wild Card game for the Nationals. In that start, Scherzer tossed five innings, allowing four hits, three walks and three earned runs. Although he left the game with his club down 3-1, the Nationals pulled off an incredible comeback and continued on their way to the 2019 World Series crown. Between Washington and Los Angeles this year, Scherzer threw 179 1/3 innings with 236 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.46.
Representing the opposing dugout will be Adam Wainwright, who continues to make mockery of aging curves. The 40-year-old logged 206 1/3 innings this year with 174 strikeouts and an ERA of 3.05. Incredibly, this will be the ninth season of his career where he has made at least one postseason appearance.
Who do you think will emerge victorious? (Poll link for app users.)