NLCS Game 2: Can the Cards beat Kershaw?

If Game 1 taught us anything, it is that these teams are very close and that this series will have a hardfought winner in the end. Both starting pitchers pitchers performed very well, but left with the game tied. The Dodgers took the lead after Juan Uribe hit a two-run single up the middle, becoming the first player in history to have at least two hits and two runs batted in three postseason games in a row.

The Cardinals struck back in the bottom of that same inning, tying the game on a two-run double off the bat of Carlos Beltran. Both starters and their relievers kept racking up zeroes after the third inning. In those innings we saw terrific plays by Yasiel Puig, Pete Kozma and Carlos Beltran. Beltran was undoubtedly the hero in this game throwing out Mark Ellis at home plate in the tenth inning and later hitting in the winning run in the thirteenth. 

Importance of Game 2
How important is this Game 2? It will be a crucial game in this series. The Dodgers will lean heavily on ace Clayton Kershaw to even the series before they return to Chavez Ravine. The Cardinals on the other hand will hope to make the most of their home field advantage and take a 2-0 lead before heading west. If they could somehow take a 2-0 lead without having even used their ace Adam Wainwright they will be in very good position to eventually take the Championship Series and move on to the World Series for the second time in three years.

Kershaw will need to contain the threat of Carlos Beltran, but he’s been pretty good at that throughout his career, limiting him to a .227 batting average. The biggest threat might come from an unexpected source. St. Louis shortstop Pete Kozma is 4-5 lifetime against Kershaw with three doubles. It will be interesting to see if he can continue his success facing the best pitcher in the game today.

Game 2 pitching matchup 

Michael Wacha (4-1, 2.78 ERA) vs. Clayton Kershaw (16-9, 1.83 ERA)

Kershaw really is, without a doubt, the best pitcher in the game today. He has had one of the most dominant pitching seasons off the last few decades. He was also successful against the Braves in the NLDS pitching great in both his starts (the second on short rest), giving up just one run in 13 innings, whilst striking out 18(!). Against the Cardinals this year though? He went 0-2 with six runs allowed in 13 innings.

You could compare any pitcher with Kershaw and make him look bad, but Michael Wacha has actually had a bigger impact on his team in his rookie season than Kershaw had on his back in 2008. Wacha was listed as the Cards’ top pitching prospect and has definitely lived up to the expectations, beating the Pirates in the NLDS with 7.1 one-hit innings. He has never faced the Dodgers before and that could be a distinct advantage, since they don’t really know what to expect. 

Money Line
Like I said before, this has become a crucial game already in this series and in this important game the Dodgers can turn to their ace Kershaw. Even though Wacha was really impressive in the Division Series I don’t see a way that the Cardinals can beat Kershaw and the Dodgers are the safe bet in this one (-125) against the Cardinals (+115).

Seb Visser

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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