2021 MLB DFS NL Wild-Card Game: Cardinals at Dodgers

by Keith Lott
2021 MLB DFS NL Wild-Card Game: Cardinals at Dodgers

The National League knew which teams were headed to the MLB Postseason on October 1st. The St. Louis Cardinals were winners of 17 games in a row to lock in the second Wild-Card spot. Despite winning 106 games, the Los Angeles Dodgers lost the NL West Division to the 107 win San Francisco Giants! This sets up the 2021 MLB DFS NL Wild-Card Game: Cardinals at Dodgers.

Los Angeles took two out of three in their first series, at Chavez Ravine, prior to the MLB All-Star Game. The two teams split a four-game series, in St. Louis, in early September.

The Los Angeles Dodgers were 58-23 at Dodgers Stadium this season - the best home record in the Majors.

The St. Louis Cardinals were 45-36 on the road.

The San Francisco Giants were the only team with a better record than both the Cardinals and Dodgers over the final 30 days of the MLB season.

Vegas has the over/under set at 7.5 runs with the Dodgers -210 Moneyline.

2021 MLB DFS NL Wild-Card Game: Cardinals at Dodgers

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Pitching Matchup - Adam Wainwright vs Max Scherzer

Scherzer made 11 starts after being traded to the Dodgers, tallying 68.1 innings pitched and owned a 1.98 ERA / 0.82 WHIP. From the day he made his first start with the Dodgers on August 4th, Scherzer ranked second in FIP (1.95), third in xFIP (2.89) and fourth in ERA (1.98) among qualified starting pitchers. He was the only qualified starter to own a 30% K-BB%.

Scherzer faced this Cardinals offense just before it went on its 17 game win streak. On September 9th,  Scherzer tossed eight innings with 13 strikeouts and no walks, on the road. The Cardinals scored one unearned run off Scherzer.

Max made five starts at Dodger Stadium after the trade and opponents managed to score nine runs in 31.1 innings - that's a 2.30 ERA. Scherzer had a 40:2 K:BB ratio at his new home.

Adam Wainwright was the only pitcher to toss 100 innings after the MLB All-Star Game.  He just turned 40 years old and completed 200 innings pitched this season - the first time he has done that since 2014.

In his lone start against the Dodgers this season, at home on September 8th, Wainwright surrendered seven hits and four earned runs over 8.1 innings, striking out four while walking one. The Dodgers scored twice in the 9th inning but Giovanny Gallegos was able to come in and save the game. Wainwright was credited with a win.

Scherzer had three double-digit strikeout games with the Dodgers (three with WAS) while Wainwright struck out 10+ batters twice this year.


Only the San Francisco Giants bullpen (2.99) had a better ERA this season than the Los Angeles Dodgers (3.16).

Over the last 30 days, both bullpens have been top 10 in K-BB%.

Cardinals Offense

Paul DeJong is not in the starting lineup, Edmundo Sosa is playing SS and batting 7th

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Nolan Arenado hit 34 home runs and drove in 105 RBI in his debut season with St. Louis.  However, he hit well below his career numbers with a .255 AVG / .312 OBP / .494 SLG. His 113 wRC+ was a bit lower than his best days with the Rockies when he used to hover around 130 wRC+. Most importantly, he hit .329 with runners in scoring position and was better hitter on the road, away from Busch Stadium.  However, he is just a .218 hitter at Dodger Stadium over the last three seasons (59 PA).

In his third season now with the Cardinals, Paul Goldschmidt owned a .394 xwOBA (.373 wOBA) and a 138 wRC+. Goldy was unbelievable in the second half of the season, hitting g.330/.402/.618 with 21 doubles, 18 homers, a .424 wOBA and 170 wRC+, scoring 54 runs while racking up 50 RBI. Goldschmidt (31) was one of three Cardinals to hit 30 home runs, along with Arenado and Tyler O'Neill (34).

O'Neill hit 19 second-half home runs - 13 of them coming in the month of September!

Harrison Bader hit .328 on the road this season while hitting just .200 at home. He has 27 extra-base hits on the road and just 11 at home.

Tommy Edman has a career year with 41 doubles and scored 91 runs scored.

Dylan Carlson was much better at home this season .306 AVG / .363 wOBA / 135 wRC+ vs .227 AVG / .311 wOBA / 93 wRC+ on the road.

Dodgers Offense

Max Muncy (elbow) doubtful, Matt Beaty playing 1B batting 7th, Cody Bellinger in CF batting 8th. Chris Taylor is not in the starting lineup
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Los Angeles scored the fourth-most runs in the MLB this season, yet they did not have a single player with 100 runs scored or 100 RBI.

Max Muncy was the best run created in the lineup, but he is doubtful to play on Wednesday.

A.J. Pollock had a bounceback year with a career-high .375 wOBA. It was his best offensive production since the 2015 season and he matched his career-best 21 home runs - the third time he has hit 20+ homers. His 150 wRC+ in the second-half was top-15 in the MLB among players with 200 plate appearances.

Corey Seager bested him after the All-Star Game with a 169 wRC+ - top-five finish. Seager continues to hover around a .300 batting average, when healthy. He hit .385 with nine home runs and five doubles (21 RBI / 17 R) over the final month of the season.

Will Smith also had a strong second-half, with a 149 wRC+. He owned a .560 SLG over his final 226 plate appearances. However, he cooled off at the end with a .217 AVG in Sept/Oct.

After being traded at the deadline, along with Max Scherzer, Trea Turner stayed hot. He hit .338 / .365 / .565 with the Dodgers - all slightly better than his 2021 numbers with the Nationals.

Justin Turner saw his average drop to .278 but he hit 27 home runs for the second time in three years. He eclipsed 80 RBI for the first time since 2016, the only other time has done so in his career. He did not end the season well with a 105 wRC+ in the second half and a .320 OBP.

Mookie Betts matched a career-low with a .264 batting average. He has now scored 140 runs in 177 games with the Dodgers. He scored 135 runs in his final season with the Boston Red Sox in 150 games.

Cody Bellinger hit .165 this year with 10 home runs in 315 at bats. He struck out in a career-high 26.9% of his plate appearances.

DFS Lineup Thoughts


Pitchers are excluded from the single-game contests and the MVP (2x) and STAR (1.5x) do not have an inflated salary.

Depending on which way you think the game will go, I like Nolan Arenado ($7.5k) and Justin Turner ($7.0k) as MVP/STAR options.

If you run both Arenado and Turner in your lineup, you can only choose one of Trea Turner ($9.5k) and Paul Goldschmidt ($9.0k).  Again, depending on which team you think scores more runs should determine which Star you add to your lineup.

If you think the Cardinals win and you go Arenado/Turner/Goldschmidt to start, I would choose between Harrison Bader ($6.5k) Tommy Edman ($6.0k) and then run Cody Bellinger ($5.0k) and hope he remembers how to hit a baseball! Bellinger could play first base with Muncy out.

If you think the Dodgers win and you go with Turner/Arenado/Turner you can roll with Will Smith ($6.5k), A.J. Pollock ($6.5k) and come back with Edmundo Sosa ($4.5k) or Matt Beaty ($4.5k)

Another option on FanDuel is to go with  4/1 stacks if you think the game will be lopsided - but you can't commit to those until we see lineups.


Similar to my approach with the Yankees/Red Sox game, I do not think going after the starting pitchers is worth it, especially without the DH in the National League. Four or five innings out of the right starter could lead to 30 DK points but I would rather spread my salary across all six positions.

Sticking with Nolan Arenado and Justin Turner as our Captain:

Cardinals Win:

CPT - Arenado ($12.3k)
UTIL - Goldschmidt ($8.4k)
UTIL - Bader ($7.2k)
UTIL - Molina ($4.6k)
UTIL - J. Turner ($7.6k)
UTIL - Seager ($9.0k)
$900 remaining

Tyler O'Neill ($9.4k) is priced way too high for me and I would rather roll with the Cardinals veterans.

Dodgers Win:

CPT - J. Turner ($11.4k)
UTIL - T. Turner ($9.8k)
UTIL - Pollock ($7.4k)
UTIL -  Smith ($7.8k)
UTIL - Arenado ($8.2k)
UTIL - Molina ($4.6k)
$800 remaining

I would be fine swapping Goldschmidt for Molina and dropping off Will Smith for Matt Beaty ($4.4k) to make the Cardinals bats fit.

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