Game 5 drama on the diamonds!
Wednesday’s betting schedule features potential thrillers in both National League Divisional Series. St. Louis visits Atlanta, then Washington visits Los Angeles with NLCS berths on the line. Three of the four contenders are thrilled with their starting pitchers.
- Cardinals: Jack Flaherty
Flaherty was lights out in the second half of the season. He might win the NL Cy Young Award based on that alone. You regulars know VSiN prefers handicapping with sharp staples such as xFIP (a “fielding independent” pitching stat designed to run along the same scale as ERA), strikeout percentage, and home run rate over a larger sample size. For the 2019 season, Flaherty finished with a 3.64 xFIP, a 29.9 strikeout percentage and 1.15 home runs allowed per nine innings, according to FanGraphs.
In his only playoff appearance, Flaherty allowed three earned runs in seven innings, tiring late on his way to a high 117-pitch count. He’s the clear ace of this staff. How long can he throw Wednesday?
- Braves: Mike Foltynewicz
The least impressive arm in Wednesday’s mix. Foltynewicz posted a 4.73 xFIP, a 21.4 K-percentage and a vulnerable 1.77 HR/9 innings ratio. Though, like Flaherty, he has been sharper recently. The Atlanta righty threw seven scoreless innings on just 81 pitches in his prior outing in this series. And he’s allowed only eight earned runs in 48 ²/₃ innings dating back to Aug. 23. But Braves fans know he’s the least “sure thing” of Wednesday’s starters.
Flaherty and the Cardinals were -115 when these pitchers met in in Atlanta in Game 2. Expect Wednesday’s rematch to close within arm’s reach of that price. Whether you focus on the full season or recent form, the Cardinals get the nod in starting pitching. Atlanta has home field and the more explosive offense.
- Nationals: Stephen Strasburg
Strasburg saved the day in the wild-card game vs. Milwaukee with three scoreless relief innings. He then allowed only one run in six innings in a Game 2 victory over Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers. For the year, he’s posted a 3.17 xFIP and a 29.9 K-percentage, while allowing 0.94 homers per nine innings. With Strasburg on the mound, the Nationals are as confident as you can be on the road against a No. 1 seed.
- Dodgers: Walker Buehler
His numbers are very similar to Strasburg’s for the season, finishing with a 3.37 xFIP, a 29.2 K-percentage and 0.99 homers allowed per 9 innings. Buehler was a beast in the series opener, striking out eight while not allowing a run in six innings of a joint shutout.
Oddsmakers, sharps and the public always give the Dodgers respect at Chavez Ravine. These offenses are similarly strong after you adjust stats for park effects, with a slight edge to the Dodgers. Buehler closed around -170 in the opener vs. Patrick Corbin. Kershaw closed around -160 in Game 2 vs. Strasburg. Where will this one settle?
Perhaps more importantly, are thousands of Dodgers’ NLCS and World Series futures tickets about to go up in Strasburg’s smoke?