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Divsion Rivals Make For Exciting NLDS Matchup

Divsion Rivals Make For Exciting NLDS Matchup

Pirates and Cardinals fight the battle of the NL Central

The St. Louis Cardinals return to the National League Division Series for the third time in a row and the fourth time in five years, while the Pirates haven't been here since 1992. Pittsburgh beat another rival, Cincinnati, in the Wild Card Game on Tuesday and finished second in the National League Central Division with a 94-68 record finishing three games behind the Cardinals.

As division rivals the two teams met 19 times in the regular season. The season series looked to be an easy pray for the Buccos, but St. Louis won the last four games to secure the division title. In the end the season series went to the Pirates 10-9, a record that tells you the teams are very evenly matched.

MVP caliber bats, Cy Young caliber pitching

Andrew McCutchen, Yadier Molina, Matt Carpenter. These are all names of players who you could make a serious National League MVP Award case for. Meanwhile Adam Wainwright, Francisco Liriano and Shelby Miller could all have been in the race for the Cy Young Award if not for Clayton Kershaw, who is surely going to win it again this year.

Add players like Carlos Beltran, Russell Martin and Marlon Byrd and you know we're in for a treat this series. The injruy to first baseman Allen Craig, however, is a big blow to the Cardinals. The slugger sprained his foot rounding first base after a base hit and will be out for the rest of the season. His replacement, Matt Adams, has done a good job playing in his place, but is a definite liabilty on defense. The fact that he is playing in the starting lineup robs manager Matheny of a chance to use him as a late inning threat off the bench.

Clint Hurdle, on the other hand, has a much stronger bench and if the game is close in the later innings he can still bring in a few impact bats. With the pitching these two teams have, this could have a huge effect on the series.

Pitching matchups

Game 1, Busch Stadium, St. Louis:

Adam Wainwright (19-9, 2.94 ERA) vs. A.J. Burnett (10-11, 3.30 ERA)

Wainwright on paper absolutely beats Burnett in this game and the bookies agree. The Cardinals are favored to win this one (-149). Burnett however has good postseason experience with the Marlins (2003) and the Yankees (2009) and could keep this game close enough for a gamble at +134. I would definitely take the under on the over/under of total runs scored at 6.5.

Game 2, Busch Stadium, St. Louis:

Lance Lynn (15-10, 3.97 ERA) vs. Gerrit Cole (10-7, 3.22 ERA)

Lynn was a rookie sensation a few seasons ago, winning game after game as the replacement in the rotation for an injured Adam Wainwright. Gerrit Cole was the overall first draft pick in the same year and had a very strong rookie campaign. He has not faced the Cardinals yet, but that could be an advantage as the Cardinal hitters have never seen any of his pitches. The Pirates should win this one.

Game 3, PNC Park, Pittsburgh:

Francisco Liriano (16-8, 3.02 ERA) vs. Joe Kelly (10-5, 2.69 ERA)

Liriano pitched the Pirates into this series with a great Wild Card Game effort and has only surrendered 1 run in 15 innings to the Cardinals this year. On top of that, he's been practically unbeatable at home.

Game 4, PNC Park, Pittsburgh (if necessary):

Charlie Morton (7-4, 3.26 ERA) vs. Shelby Miller (15-9, 3.06 ERA)

Miller has had a very good year, but has not been able to beat the Pirates yet. He has a 0-4 record against them this year, but the Pirates have to counter with a mediocre pitcher. Either Charlie Morton or Jeff Locke will start and neither one has been impressive of late. This could be a timely first win for Miller.

Game 5, Busch Stadium, St. Louis (if necessary):

Adam Wainwright (19-9, 2.94 ERA) vs. A.J. Burnett (10-11, 3.30 ERA)

A rematch of Game 1 and if it gets to this.. All bets are off. Wainwright still gives the Cards the edge, but it should be a very tight game. One that might go to extra innings and if it does the edge falls right back into the lap of the Buccos.

Postseason track record or hot streak?

Who do you bet for? The team that has the most World Series wins after the Yankees or the team that took the Wild Card and looks to be hot? Like I said before, the series will be very tight, but on paper the Cardinals should be the favorites and they are according to the bookies. Whilst the Pirates are listed at +140, the Cardinals are favorites at -155.

At these odds I would definitely take a shot at the Pirates, since I think they are much closer than this. Pirates in 4.

Seb Visser is a former Dutch Major League Baseball player turned baseball writer. He tries to use the insights he gained in his playing days to increase the quality of his articles and help bettors better understand the game of baseball and increase their chance to win their bets.

News by Seb Visser
Seb Visser - Igaming.org Reporter

Seb Visser is a former Dutch Major League Baseball player turned baseball writer. He tries to use the insights he gained in his playing days to increase the quality of his articles and help bettors better understand the game of baseball and increase their chance to win their bets.

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