Today we’ll take a look at the race for the postseason in the National League and preview a matchup between the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Mets.
St. Louis Cardinals vs. New York Mets
Wednesday, September 15, 2021 – 07:10 PM EDT at Citi Field
Jon Lester Rides the Struggle Bus to Work
As the headline indicates, it hasn’t been the best season for old graybeard Jon Lester. The 37-year-old ranks in the bottom 2% of the league in strikeout rate, in the 3rd percentile in fastball velocity, and is in the bottom 20% with a .342 xwOBA and 5.15 xERA. What does that mean? Well, he throws a slow, hittable fastball at around 88 mph on average, and the tracking data from this year indicates that balls have been hit hard and have had a high probability of falling in for hits. It also means that almost everyone is making contact with Lester, and he isn’t generating many swings and misses.
The results have been downright ugly. The five-time All-Star, World Series champion, and three-time top-five finisher in Cy Young voting has been very bad in 2021. He’s pitcher to a 4.75 ERA between the Nationals and Cardinals, actually improving a bit to the tune of a 4.30 ERA since heading over to St. Louis. He’s given up six homers in eight starts after giving up 14 in 16 starts for the Nationals, so perhaps things aren’t all that different, though.
Unfortunately for the Cardinals, their offense has fallen off the nice pace it had set over the last few weeks. They rank 18th in wRC+ over the past 14 days, hitting just .247 at the dish with 21 homers. This couldn’t come at a worse time, with the wild-card race heating up in the NL.
The Dodgers just clinched a berth in the postseason, and sit atop the wild-card standings by 17 games at a commanding 93-53. With the Giants ahead of them out in the NL West, it’s safe to say that spot will not be relinquished. There are now four teams fighting it out for the final playoff spot, and the Cardinals currently hold the best record, a half-game ahead of the Reds, and a full game ahead of the Padres.
After that, the Phillies are three back, and these Mets are four back.
Fighting for the Postseason
The Mets, as mentioned above, are right there in the thick of the playoff hunt. While they will need to leapfrog four teams, a win here against the Cardinals could help them climb the ladder ever so slightly. Luckily for New York, it will have Tylor Megill on the hill.
Aside from providing us with a great opportunity to rhyme, Megill has provided the Mets with great innings in his first big-league season. The 26-year-old holds a decent 4.00 ERA and an even-better 3.46 xERA. That’s because his strikeout rate has been tremendous at 27.2%, and he’s walked just 6.2% of hitters.
The balls coming back in play have been hit relatively hard, and he’s pitched to a lot of fly balls, but the thing here is that Megill is just doing such a good job at missing bats that it really hasn’t hurt him.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Mets will get to face a lefty, which has been a decent spot to back them in, with a 96 wRC+. While it’s not the best number, it’s good when you put it side-by-side with New York’s season-long results.
The last 14 days have treated the Mets well too, with the fourth-best wRC+ in baseball over that span at 115. They're absolutely socking the ball right now.
The New York Mets opened at –145 here and have been bet to –162. I’m still comfortable taking them at that price, but would not take them past –170. For my MLB pick, I think the matchup here is very lopsided and New York should tee off on Lester, getting the win in this series they’ve long deserved.
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.