Home-field advantage didn’t work for the St. Louis Cardinals, so now they are going to hope that their fortunes can be reversed on the road. Monday night will feature Game 3 of the National League Championship Series as the St. Louis Cardinals travel to Nationals Park to take on the Washington Nationals.
The first two games of the series have been dominated by the Nationals pitching, as the Cardinals have only been able to muster four hits in the first two games of the series combined. It won’t be too much easier for either side on Monday night, as this should be a really exciting pitching matchup.
The Cardinals will be sending out ace Jack Flaherty (11-8, 2.75 ERA) to take on Stephen Strasburg (18-6, 3.32 ERA). First pitch for this one is scheduled for 7:38 pm ET.
The moneyline for this matchup features the St. Louis Cardinals at +115 and the Washington Nationals at -155. The over/under in terms of runs scored is set at 7.
By The Numbers
On the offensive side, it is the Washington Nationals who come out ahead. They rank sixth in the majors in runs per game, averaging 5.31 runs (5.56 at home). The Cardinals come in 19th, averaging 4.68 runs per game (4.71 on the road).
On the pitching side, it is the St. Louis Cardinals that hold the advantage. They come in fourth in the majors with a 3.77 ERA (4.32 on the road). The Nationals come in 10th overall with a 4.22 earned run average (4.45 at home).
When you put it all together, it is the Nationals that hold the advantage in terms of run differential. The Nationals rank sixth in the majors with a run differential of +153, while the Cardinals rank ninth with a run differential of +107.
Cardinals Need First Win
It would be an incredible understatement to say that the Cardinals blew a good opportunity by giving up the first two games of the series at home. Now having to travel into enemy territory, they will turn to their ace, Flaherty, to try to get a win back.
During the regular season, Flaherty was 11-8 with a 2.75 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and opponents hit just .192 against him. In 196 1/3 innings, he allowed 135 hits, 60 earned runs, 25 home runs and struck out 231 strikeouts versus 55 walks. In the postseason, Flaherty is 1-1 with a 2.77 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and opponents are hitting .240 against him.
On the offensive side, Paul Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna have been the most consistent hitters in the postseason for St. Louis. Goldschmidt is hitting .345/.387/.690 with two home runs, while Ozuna is hitting .310/.355/.621 with two home runs and five runs batted in.
It will be interesting to see if Jose Martinez gets a start on Monday, considering he has two of the Cardinals’ four hits this series.
Nationals Hope For Dominant Lead
After getting dominant starts from Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer, the Nationals are hoping Strasburg can follow suit. Strasburg went 18-6 in the regular season with a 3.32 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and opponents hit .210 against him.
In 209 innings, he allowed 161 hits, 77 earned runs, 24 home runs and struck out 251 versus 56 walks. In the postseason, Strasburg is 2-0 with a 2.40 ERA, 0.80 WHIP and opponents are hitting just .150 against the righty.
On the offensive side, Anthony Rendon continues to rake. Considered a serious candidate for the NL MVP, Rendon has gone .346/.457/.577 this postseason, with three doubles, a home run, five runs batted in and six runs scored.
Also performing well has been Ryan Zimmerman. The veteran is hitting .304/.333/.522 with a home run. Throw in players like Juan Soto and Trea Turner, and the Nationals certainly have an intimidating lineup.
Nationals Keep Rolling
Flaherty versus Strasburg could be one for the ages. If either of these starters is on top of his game, it could be lights out for the opponent. Still, all things considered, I like the chances of the Nationals better than the Cardinals.
Their offense has been clicking in this championship series, unlike St. Louis’, and they get to play at home, where they have averaged over 5.5 runs per game. Again, if Flaherty is feeling it, the Nationals could be in trouble, but for my money, I like the Nationals at -155 in this one.