The Los Angeles Dodgers have already advanced to the National League Championship Series by knocking off the Atlanta Braves, but the action isn’t done there. The NLDS concludes Wednesday with a decisive Game 5 showdown between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates. 

With the winner advancing to face the Dodgers in the NLCS, the stakes are high. The Cards are striving to win their second World Series crown in three years. Across the table, Pittsburgh is riding the momentum of its first division title since 1992 as this year’s Cinderella team. 

Let’s break down everything you need to know about the final game of the NLDS.

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Starting Pitchers

Pirates: Gerrit Cole

Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle made a surprise call by opting for rookie Gerrit Cole over veteran A.J. Burnett in the loser-goes-home matchup. 

Per CBS Sports’ Matt Snyder, he defended that call by saying it puts his team in the best possible position:

“We have one game to win,” manager Clint Hurdle said after the game in a press conference. “As I’ve done and I’ve challenged the guys to do, we need to do the best we can to win that next game. I believe that matchup is the best we can do to beat the Cardinals in Game 5.”

It’s also entirely possible that Burnett’s Game 1 mishaps—seven runs on six hits and four walks—have marinated a bit in Hurdle’s mind. 

The 23-year-old Cole went 10-7 on the season and gave up just two hits over six innings and one earned run in a winning effort in Game 2. Cole is the hot hand right now in the Pirates rotation; it just so happens that he’s a rookie.


Cardinals: Adam Wainwright

Unlike the Pirates’ Cole, Cards ace Adam Wainwright surprised practically nobody by being named St. Louis’ Game 5 starter. 

The 32-year-old notably has a big advantage in the experience department over his counterpart in Wednesday’s decisive showdown, per Pittsburgh local CBS anchor Jory Rand:

Despite this sizable difference, Wainwright will have to quickly forget his last appearance in a decisive Game 5. It came last year against the Nationals, and although his team escaped with a victory, it wasn’t due to Wainwright, as he gave up six runs in just over two innings. 

Wainwright is having an incredible year, and he’ll need to continue it one more night while keeping away the struggles he faced the last time he pitched in such a contest.



Both teams have played about as evenly as they could have in this series, but there’s no doubting which team—and which pitcher—is more comfortable in a must-win scenario. 

Although Wainwright’s performance against the Nats last year beckons concern, and the Pirates’ bats can get hot at any time, Wainwright should keep them at bay as the St. Louis offense picks back up.

St. Louis 5, Pittsburgh 3

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