The St. Louis Cardinals have had the best online betting record for the vast majority of the 2015 MLB season, which means that it only makes sense for them to be the first team with a playoff position. Because of their 100 regular-season wins, the Cardinals will be the favorite for many to win its third title since 2006. However, the team enters the postseason on a bit of a downturn, having lost 10 of the past 16 games. So can we expect the Cardinals to prevail in the World Series?
NL Playoff Online Betting Team Preview: St. Louis Cardinals
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) October 7, 2015
Here are some reasons to say yes. Their starting rotation has the best ERA in all of MLB. Their bullpen has the second best ERA and is crammed with relievers who have experience closing games. Injuries that would have derailed most teams, such as the Achilles tendon injury to Adam Wainwright, haven’t slowed the Cards down at all.
At the plate, the team defies convention. Its leader in home runs, Matt Carpenter, bats in the leadoff position, and the Cardinals are in the lower third when it comes to scoring runs. However, Matt Adams and Matt Holliday have returned from injury and have time to knock some rust off before seeing playoff action. Even Wainwright might come back in a relief role, his Achilles having healed sooner than many expected.
Backstop Yadier Molina can keep the opposition from stealing bases, although he will be playing with a splint to support a tendon in his left thumb. Manager Mike Matheny, long an acolyte of Tony La Russa, has a considerable amount of experience in the playoffs, as do many of the key players.
In the second half of the season, the Cardinals have scored fewer than four runs 27 times. The starting rotation has kept the team ahead of the pack but is starting to show some wear. Lance Lynn has a 9.26 ERA in three starts in September, Jaime Garcia has an ERA of 5.25 in four starts, and Michael Wacha’s three-game ERA is 7.20. While the Cardinals will be able to rely on their aces in a playoff series, so will their components.
The playoffs are difficult from the beginning for St. Louis, too. Having the best record in the National League would normally be a good thing, as they get to face the winner of the wild card play-in. This game features Chicago and Pittsburgh – the teams with the second- and third-best records in MLB this year. If the Cardinals survive that best of five series, the Dodgers or Mets will be waiting in the NLCS. The Cardinals have gone 1-4 against Chicago in September and 1-2 against Pittsburgh, which could give either one of those teams a sense of momentum in the division series.