The Cardinals come off a wild one-game playoff victory to face the 98-win Washington Nationals in the NLDS today. While literally anything can happen in the postseason, including an infield-fly rule that was called in the outfield and Braves fans littering Turner Field with bottles and debris, one way to handicap what will happen in this series is to return to the seven regular season matchups between the teams.
The Cards finished with a 3-4 record against Washington, allowing 43 runs over the season series to the tune of more than six runs per game. However, the offense also scored more than 5 1/2 runs per game against the Nationals’ impressive starting rotation and stingy bullpen. The Cards were only outscored by a total of three runs over the seven games, meaning that they were able to hang with the NL East winners and #1 seed. However, the Cardinals struggled mightily on the road, with a 1-3 record in Washington while allowing 31 runs over those four road games. The Cards recovered during their second-to-last series of the regular season, taking two-of-three from the Nats at Busch Stadium. In those three games the Cardinals scored nearly nine runs per game, as they particularly roughed up Edwin Jackson and Ross Detwiler who are slated to start Games 3 and 4, respectively.
On the other side, Gio Gonzalez, who will start Game 1, hurled a five-hit complete game shutout in his only start against the Cards. Bryce Harper hit .429 with a .484 OBP and six RBIs, and Adam Laroche hit .348 with a .429 OBP and seven RBIs in seven games against the Cards.
The wildcard, at least in Game 1, could be rust for the Nationals. The Nats haven’t played in four days, and Gonzalez hasn’t pitched in 10 days. The Cards may be able to jump on Gonzalez and the Nationals early in Game 1 because their players are sharper having just played on Friday.