The St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Dodgers are both fighting for their respective divisions as well as spots in the National League Wild Card race. Both teams will have a chance to make some progress this week when they clash in a four-game series in St. Louis starting this Monday night in our NL spotlight series of the week.
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Ethier and Kemp carry the Dodgers’ offense
Backed by outstanding starting pitching and the red-hot bats of Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp, the Los Angeles Dodgers got off to one of the best starts in the major leagues with a 39-22 record on the MLB moneyline. The wheels then fell off for the Dodgers as they went just 9-22 over their next 31 games; but with a four-game winning streak heading into Monday’s series against St. Louis, the Dodgers look like they have regained their early-season form.
Injuries to Ethier and Kemp obliterated the Dodgers’ offensive production. Kemp (.361 BA, 14 home runs, 34 RBI in 44 games) and Ethier (.294 BA, 11 home runs, 61 RBI in 84 games) are the only two players in the lineup with more than eight home runs, and only Juan Rivera joins them in the 30 RBI club. The team’s offense, which ranks 26th in the league in run production at 3.8 runs per game, goes only as far as these two take it.
Fortunately for the Dodgers, pitching has been a strong point all season. Staff ace Clayton Kershaw is having another outstanding year (7-5 with a 2.74 ERA), and the team has received amazing seasons from journeymen starters Chris Capuano (10-5 with a 2.81 ERA) and Aaron Harang (7-5 with a 3.46 ERA). Injuries to Ted Lilly (3.14 ERA) and Chad Billingsley (4.30 ERA) have left the bottom half of the staff a bit light, but Billingsley is set to return on Monday. Los Angeles ranks second in the league in Team ERA at 3.30.
Champion Cards enter series with momentum
The St. Louis Cardinals came out of the All-Star Break with an ugly stretch of 1-5 straight up in six road games, but look to be back on track with a home sweep of the Chicago Cubs. Now sporting a 50-45 record on the MLB moneyline, the Cardinals will try to carry that momentum into more success on this homestand against the Dodgers.
Ranked fourth in the majors and best in the National League with 4.9 runs per game, the Cardinals have a lethal offense from top to bottom this year. Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina, David Freese, Allen Craig and Carlos Beltran all have least 14 home runs and 47 RBI and are all batting over .290 as well, with Beltran leading the pack with 21 home runs and 69 RBI. Lance Berkman hasn’t quite found his swing yet since his recent return from the DL, but he figures to make this offense even scarier when he comes around.
With Chris Carpenter out for the season, Kyle Lohse (10-2 with a 2.71 ERA) and Lance Lynn (12-4 with a 3.10 ERA) have picked up the slack at the top of the rotation. Jake Westbrook has also pitched well (3.60 ERA), and Adam Wainwright is starting to come around with five quality starts in his last seven trips to the mound. St. Louis ranks 10th in the majors with a Team ERA of 3.79.
Series of huge streaks on the line in matchup
Looking at the projected pitching matchups for this series, Chad Billingsley will face Joe Kelly on Monday, Clayton Kershaw will face Adam Wainwright on Tuesday, Aaron Harang will face Kyle Lohse on Wednesday, and Chris Capuano will face Jake Westbrook on Thursday.
Since 2009, meetings between the Dodgers and Cardinals have been decided in waves. The Dodgers have won seven straight against St. Louis (including a three-game sweep this season), St. Louis had won the previous seven games before that, and the Dodgers had won the previous six games before that. If you believe in trends, you might want to ride the team that wins Monday for the next three games.
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