Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright will start NL Wild Card Game, could match up vs. Dodgers’ Max Scherzer

Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright will start NL Wild Card Game, could match up vs. Dodgers’ Max Scherzer

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As expected, the St. Louis Cardinals will give the ball to stalwart right-hander Adam Wainwright in the NL Wild Card Game, manager Mike Shildt told reporters on Thursday, including Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Cardinals clinched the second wild-card spot earlier this week and will face either the Dodgers or Giants in the winner-take-all game next Wednesday.

Wainwright, 40, is the obvious choice to start the Wild Card Game. He’s had an excellent season, throwing 206 1/3 innings with a 3.05 ERA, plus the team lacks a clear alternative. Jack Flaherty recently returned from a shoulder issue and is limited to bullpen duty, and Wainwright is a better option than veteran lefties JA Happ and Jon Lester.

In his most recent start Wainwright held the first-place Brewers to two runs in six innings on Tuesday. Unless he makes a short tune-up appearance over the weekend (unlikely), he will start the Wild Card Game on a full week’s rest. Given his age and workload this year, giving Wainwright extra rest before a win or go home game is sensible.

The Cardinals recently won 17 straight games and are locked into the second wild-card spot, and will go on the road in the Wild Card Game. The Giants hold a two-game lead over the Dodgers with four to play, and SportsLine puts their NL West title odds at 96.5 percent. It’s not set in stone yet, but a Cardinals vs. Dodgers Wild Card Game looks likely.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts recently said Max Scherzer will start the Wild Card Game unless he’s needed in a Game 163 tiebreaker on Monday. Walker Buehler is as good a Wild Card Game fallback plan as it gets should Scherzer pitch Monday.

At 40 years and 37 days, Wainwright will be by far the oldest pitcher to start a Wild Card Game, beating out Charlie Morton in 2019 (35 years and 324 days). Scherzer, should he start next week, would become the second-oldest Wild Card Game starter.

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