The St. Louis Cardinals face off against the San Diego Padres on Wednesday afternoon in the first game of the three-game NL Wild Card series. Both teams are coming off big wins to close the regular season, but the Cardinals are at a definite disadvantage heading West for the first time this year.
San Diego is one of the favorites to win the NL pennant along with division foe Los Angeles. The gritty Cardinals are a tough out though. The two teams did not play in the shortened regular season, but the Padres were 21-11 at home on the year with St. Louis going 16-15 away from Busch Stadium in 2020.
Cardinals Look To Topple NL Favorite
The Cardinals won their five game series with Milwaukee to close out the regular season. The biggest problem for St. Louis is that they may be exhausted, having to play every day since early September to make-up early games missed from COVID exposure. Not only have the Cardinals played every day for over three weeks, many of those outings were double-headers. This is a team that either has momentum, or is burnt out.
The Padres finished 4th in the league in home runs during the regular season and their knack for hitting the grand slam is well documented. St. Louis combats this potent offense with starter Kwang Hyun Kim, who is 3-0 in seven starts. Kim’s ERA is 1.62 and he’s transitioned into the starting role nicely after beginning the year as the closer.
San Diego, Swinging Into The NLWC
The Padres bread and butter is their spectacular batting, but offense isn’t the only story for San Diego heading into the 2020 postseason. The Padres have the eighth-best average ERA in the league at 3.86 and they won’t need to pull out all the stops to slow down the batting over in St. Louis.
It’s easy to lean towards the Padres in game one, they’re clearly the better batting team and they put runs on the board quite easily. San Diego heads into this series after winning three-straight games against the San Francisco Giants which means morale is high. This is a team that’s looking to make a deep run into the postseason and I doubt the Cardinals can do much to slow them down.
Will San Diego Walk Away With Game 1?
I think the major question ahead of game one is whether or not the Cardinals can escape this series with a win at all? The problem St. Louis faces is that they’re playing a solid pitching team that has the ability to run the score up rather quickly. Can the Cardinals trust their offense if this game turns into a high scoring affair, most people would probably say no.
Of course anything can happen in the postseason and San Diego is far from invincible. The main reason to like the Padres in the series opener is because they are as a whole just much more consistent than St. Louis.
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