LOS ANGELES – Two experienced and cunning pitchers face off in a life and death duel.
Adam Wainwright will start the revitalized St. Louis Cardinals to face Max Scherzer, who continued to shine after the trade that sent him to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“It’s getting fun, isn’t it?” Wainwright stated with a smile.
Indeed, although none of these teams would have wanted to play the wild card game of the National League.
The Cardinals (90-72) reached the second wild-card spot thanks to a string of 17 consecutive victories.
The Dodgers (106-56), had the second best record in the Major Leagues after the 107-55 record of the San Francisco Giants, who broke a streak of eight consecutive titles in the NL West Division in the last regular season day.
The relative absurdity of the defending World Series champs having to play a dangerous wild-card encounter after winning many games doesn’t bother Scherzer.
Los Angeles has the best record of any defending World Series champion since 1969, when the divisions were established.
“You don’t cry in baseball,” he said. “You have to win the division. We did not”.
So here they are face to face.
Wainwright (17-7) and Scherzer (15-4) will hold their duel on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium, where Los Angeles ended the regular season with a team-record 15-game winning streak at home. His 53-28 home record was the best in the majors.
The meeting is only the second automatic elimination in postseason history in which both starters are at least 37 years old. Wainwright is 40 and Scherzer 37.
Both pitchers are veterans, but they are fit and their game has an intensity comparable to that of their younger teammates.
“I’m still quite young,” Wainwright insists.
He noted that a few years ago he felt “older”, as a result of which he modified his diet and eliminated gluten, sugar, dairy and processed foods for a time. He also changed his training and conditioning programs.
“If you consider yourself old then you are,” he pointed out. “I no longer try to touch the ceiling of the weight room every day like I used to, but you have to do it occasionally to stay young. The line of staying young and also intelligent is thin, trying to balance ”.
Scherzer acknowledges that his diet is not the best, although he also tries to avoid sugar.
“I cannot say that I have made many changes,” he said. “It seems to me that you have to listen to your body. Train as hard as possible at the level of the body ”.
The two have met once before in the postseason. Scherzer and the Washington Nationals defeated Wainwright and the Cardinals in 2019, in game two of the NL Championship Series.