Washington Nationals vs. St. Louis Cardinals Game 1 Pick

by | Oct 11, 2019 | mlb

Washington Nationals (93-69) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (91-71), 10/11/19
Time: 7:08 pm ET Friday, Oct. 11
Where: Busch Stadium, St. Louis, MO
Listed Pitchers: Anibal Sanchez (11-8, 3.79 ERA, 1.27 WHIP) vs. Miles Mikolas (10-14, 4.07, 1.21)

Moneyline: Cardinals -125/Nationals +115 (5Dimes)
Over/Under: 8

The Nationals League pennant comes down to the NL Central champion Cardinals and the wild-card Nationals, beginning with Game 1 Friday night at Busch Stadium. Both these teams advanced to this NL championship series by winning Game 5’s in their divisional-round series, but they certainly went about it in different ways. St. Louis is lined as a slight home favorite for Friday night’s series opener. Which way are we going for our free MLB pick?

MLB Betting Odds

MLB betting odds opened St. Louis and Mikolas at around -115 over Washington and Sanchez, with an over/under of 8.5 runs. Early betting action then bumped the Cardinals to -125 and dipped that total to eight.

Nationals vs. Cardinals Set-Up

Washington finished 93-69 during the regular season, four games behind division champion Atlanta in the NL East, but claimed the top spot in the National League wild-card standings. The Nationals then came from behind to beat Milwaukee in that NL wild-card game 4-3. Then Washington came from behind to beat the favored Dodgers in a National League divisional-round playoff series in five games, winning Game 5 Wednesday night in LA 7-3 in 10 innings.

The Nationals trailed the Dodgers 3-0 early in that decisive Game 5, tied the game with a pair of homers off LA ace Clay Kershaw in the top of the eighth, then won it with a grand slam by Howie Kendrick in the tenth.

So Washington is playing in the National League championship series for the first time since the franchise moved to DC from Montreal.

St. Louis, meanwhile, finished 91-71 during the regular season to win the NL Central by two games over the second-place Brewers. The Cardinals then just outlasted the Braves in five games in an NLDS, winning Game 5 Wednesday 13-1.

St. Louis exploded for ten runs in the first inning of Game 5 and cruised from there. So the Cardinals are back in the NLCS for the first time since 2014.

St. Louis took the regular-season series from the Nationals five games to two.

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Game 1 Starting Arms

Mikolas, by our strict standards, is 12/33 on quality starts this season and only one for his last six. But that stat is a bit misleading because he’s been pretty good as of late. Eight days ago, in Game 1 of that NLDS, Mikolas held Atlanta to one run and three hits through five innings of a 7-6 Cardinals victory. And over his last four appearances, he’s allowed six runs – five earned – and 19 hits through 19 2/3 innings.

On the season St. Louis is 18-15 with Mikolas, 3-1 over his last four starts.

In two starts this season against Washington, Mikolas gave up four runs and 15 hits through 12 innings. The Cardinals split those two games.

Sanchez is 12/31 on quality start this year and three for his last five. Last Sunday, in Game 3 of that NLDS, he held the Dodgers to one run and four hits through five innings, although the Nationals lost that game 10-4. And over his last five starts, he’s allowed nine runs – eight earned – and 23 hits through 31 innings.

On the season Washington is 17-14 with Sanchez, 3-1 over his last four starts.

In his only start this season against St. Louis, back in April, Sanchez allowed three runs and five hits through five innings of a 3-2 Nationals loss.

Game 1 Batting Splits

Washington batted .258/.337/.448 against right-handed pitching this season. St. Louis batted .245/.320/.412 against RH pitching this season.

The Bullpens

The Nationals bullpen posted an ML-worst 5.66 ERA this season and a 1.48 WHIP, while allowing an .800 OPS. Washington relievers then allowed 14 runs in 15 innings of work in that NLDS against the Dodgers. But they did close out the victories in both Games 4 and 5.

The Cardinals pen put up a 3.82 ERA this season and a 1.22 WHIP while holding foes to an ML-low .670 OPS. St. Louis relievers then allowed seven ER through 14 2/3 innings in that NLDS against the Braves.

MLB Betting Trends

  • Washington played 43-38 on the road this season.
  • Washington played 69-52 against right-handed starters this season.
  • St. Louis played 50-31 at home this season.
  • St. Louis played 73-55 against RH starters this season.

Totals Report

  • Unders played 76-75 in Nationals games this season.
  • Unders played 85-69 in Cardinals games this season.
  • Unders played 45-33 in games played at Busch Stadium this season.
  • Unders played 5-1-1 in Nationals-Cardinals games this season.
  • Unders are a combined 34-27 with Mikolas and Sanchez this season.

Free MLB Playoff Pick

We’re giving St. Louis a short edge in the pitching match-up for Game 1, and while Washington might own a small advantage with the sticks, the Cardinals own a significant advantage in the bullpen comparison. So we’re siding with St. Louis for our free MLB pick here.