Adam Wainwright vs. Max Fried
Though it is looking like the Braves will start rookie Max Fried for Game 4 of the NLDS, he might not go very long since he will be coming out of the bullpen as well.
Adam Wainwright has the most playoff experience as a pitcher out of anybody in the league. He has been in the playoffs in almost every year since his first World Series championship in 2006. He knows the environment, he knows the pressure. Having Wainwright go Game 4 is perfect, especially since it will be an elimination game for one of the teams.
The 37-year-old has enjoyed a very solid season, but mainly at Busch Stadium; where he has a 2.56 ERA, we won’t talk about his road splits; because they just are not good. I doubt he even sees a start outside of Busch during the postseason anyways.
We all know that Wainwright’s velocity is way down. He is only throwing about 90 mph, so he is reliant on his curveball; and it has gone a very long way for him this season. His curveball spin rate ranks in the 83rd percentile and he goes to it 36.8% of the time. He rarely uses his fastball, which is in the bottom 4th percentile in velocity out of the entire MLB. So he’s using finesse rather than power nowadays.
Max Fried has experienced more of a rollercoaster 2019 campaign, putting up All-Star caliber numbers up until May; then things took a turn for the worst when he had a May ERA of 5.38. He bounced back from that though and finished the season with a 4.02 ERA.
Like Wainwright, Fried has a disgusting curveball that he isn’t afraid to use as well as a high voltage fastball, but he has his struggles with command and also has a 4.92 ERA outside of SunTrust Park.
If Fried is used out of the bullpen, he could probably not surpass four innings which means that the Cardinals will see a rigid Braves bullpen for the majority of the game.
Advantage: Adam Wainwright
There are many ways this series can shake out but for the Cardinals, their starting pitching is going to be one of the biggest keys to the series. They have been a strength all year but now is when it matters most. There is a definite advantage the Cardinals have in their starters and they must take advantage.