MLB on Sling TV: Can the Cardinals Clinch?

Sep 30, 2015 by Scott Ross

Cardinals at Pirates (7pm ET Wednesday, ESPN)
The Cards and the Pirates, owners of the two best records in baseball, were rained out on Tuesday, forcing them to play a Wednesday doubleheader with the NL Central title on the line. A Cardinals win in either game would clinch the division, and relegate the Pirates to the Wild Card.

The Redbirds are sending spot starter Tyler Lyons to face the Pirates’ Charlie Morton in the nightcap. Lyons, who’s made only 7 starts this year, was pressed into service on Friday, when St. Louis fireballer Carlos Martinez was pulled after only 6 pitches with a right shoulder strain prematurely ending his season. Lyons proved to be a savior, pitching 3 2/3 innings of 1-run ball, at one point striking out 5 in a row. With the Cards already assured a playoff spot and only a week left to go in the regular season, Lyons is a more than capable fill-in, but Martinez’s arm will be sorely missed come the postseason.

Morton, to be honest, is not the first guy Pirates manager Clint Hurdle would choose to send to the hill with the division on the line, but what can you do? Morton’s been brutal over his last 6 starts, with a 5.97 ERA in 31 ⅔ innings.

Pirates ace Gerrit Cole was originally slated to pitch this evening, but has had his start moved to the day game, where he’ll face Michael Wacha. This could be a short outing for Cole, whose primary focus may turn to just getting some work in before facing the Chicago Cubs in next week’s one-game Wild Card round (Oct. 7 at 8pm ET on TBS).

Dodgers at Giants (10pm ET Wednesday, ESPN)
The Dodgers clinched their third consecutive division title Tuesday, riding the lightning arm of Clayton Kershaw to an 8-0 trouncing of the Giants to seal the deal. Tonight they play for pride.

Not long ago, the Giants were just a half-game out of first, behind the Dodgers, when they traded for Mike Leake with an eye toward overtaking their hated rivals. Alas, after pitching well in his first two starts for SF, during which he went 12 1/3 innings and gave up only 3 runs, opponents have been hitting Leake like a Death Star piñata. Over his last 6 starts he’s posted a 5.82 ERA, while giving up 40 hits and 9 walks in just 34 innings.

Dodgers starter Mike Bolsinger’s season was humming along nicely through Labor Day weekend, when he found himself with a 6-3 record and a 2.97 ERA. But over his last 3 starts he’s given up 14 runs, 10 of them earned, and failed to got through 5 innings each time.

All stats courtesy Baseball-Reference.com.

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