October 22, 2013 by Ell and Mike Sports
Am I looking forward to this series? No, but I’m excited to see who wins and I can’t wait for these two teams to play against each other as both have been so dominate. Where do we begin with this match up of two of the best teams in baseball? Do we go down the lineups and name all of the clutch players? Maybe not, that may take a while. Hmm, maybe we pick through the pitching staffs and say how this pitcher is better than this pitcher. No, let’s not do that. I’ll do more than that.
I believe this will be a great balanced series which has a chance to go 7 games with how evenly matched these teams are. I will compare everything from coaching to play style and in the end Ell and I will give our predictions. Here goes nothing…
Coaching: John Farrell vs Mike Matheny
Winner: Mike Matheny
While neither has a lot of postseason experience under their belt, I would definitely have to side with Matheny. Why??? Well lets see, he did lead the Cards last year to the NLCS and was one win away from making the World Series. While the Cards didn’t seal the deal last year, I believe that if the Cards find themselves up 3 to any number that they will eventually close out the series. Last year, really helped Matheny grow and I believe losing that NLCS series to the Giants last season after being up 3-1 really instilled a killer instinct into him and his team. Not to take anything from John Farrell because he has done a marvelous job after taking over basically the same team Bobby Valentine couldn’t do anything with. He is definitely AL Coach of the Year in my eyes. Overall, I just believe that last season’s postseason really improved Matheny’s decision making for the late inning close situations that the playoffs bring.
Starting Pitching: Cards vs Red Sox
After some research I had to not only base this decision not only how the pitchers have performed during the postseason, but also during the year. With that being said the Cardinals out performed the Sox in the postseason and regular season in the category of ERA. Does this stat overall mean that the Cards staff is better than the Sox staff, no way. Pitching goes a lot deeper than ERA, but when you have a pitching staff such as the Cards only giving up 2.34 runs a game, that makes it a whole lot easier on your team. The Cards already have an ace in P Adam Wainwright, who is in Cy Young contention this year, but now they also have a young ace emerging in Michael Wacha. Combined, the two of them this postseason have had 6 quality starts, 5 earned runs, 42 strikeouts and a combined ERA of 2.00. These two are definitely the best one-two punch in this series. While the Cards have those two pitchers to throw at Boston, that’s it. After those two, I believe the Sox could do damage to the other Cards starters. The Cards have two aces, but the Sox have 3 solid arms who can go 7 innings pitching and have a quality start any night. Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, and John Lackey are more than capable of throwing some gems for the Sox, but we aren’t here to talk about capabilities, we are talking about what is likely to happen. I will tell you this, if this series goes 7 games the Red Sox will see Wainwright 2 times and Wacha 2 times, to me that is an automatic 4 wins when they pitch. The Red Sox will beat the Cardinals third starter which is likely to be Joe Kelly. Taking all of this into consideration, I will take the Cards in this match up.
Batting: Cards vs Red Sox
Winner: Red Sox
Both lineups are great lineups from top to bottom. The Cards have RF Carlos Beltran and LF Matt Holliday who are All-Stars just about every year, but the Sox lineup is loaded with players who have been here before. I could run down the names, but DH/1st Baseman David Ortiz and 2nd Baseman Dustin Pedroia should be enough, but they have the ultimate lineup with Ellsbury’s speed leading off, and then OF Shane Victorino is always a threat. The Cardinals also bring a lot to the table with Matt Holliday, Infielder Matt Carpenter, Carlos Beltran, and rumor is they are getting their regular 1st baseman back, Allen Craig. The Red Sox are batting .236 against the Cardinals .210 for the postseason. Yes, this is a whole new series, but I believe the experience factor will play a major factor in certain situations. From things as little as runners in scoring position and knowing if you should bunt, pull the ball or just go the other way. With experience being a major key to me, I think the Red Sox have the better lineup.
Defense: Cards vs Red Sox
To make it the World Series your team has to have great defense. Without defense you will not get far because that means your giving up a lot of unearned runs. Both of these teams are solid in this department. This is key for the Cards because playing that outfield in Boston is never easy from the Green Monster, to the Bermuda triangle, and the short porch in right field. I think all of the outfielders for St. Louis will be able to handle this task though. This category for me at least is a push.
Bullpen: Cards vs Red Sox
Both of these teams bullpens have been superb, and with Closing Pitcher Koji Uehara, the Red Sox have definitely shown that they have a good bullpen. However, this comes down to which one of these teams’ bullpen will spend less time pitching allowing the bullpen to be fresher because they wont be used as much. This goes to the Cards because Wainwright and Wacha can easily throw a complete game in their starts.
Prediction: Cards in 5
The Cardinals starting pitching will prove to be too strong and while the Red Sox lineup is better, I think the Cardinals come up with some timely hitting of their own and get one in Boston and win all 3 at home.
Prediction: Red Sox in 6
The Red Sox bats will be able to pull off some big hits in clutch situations behind the batters mentioned above Ortiz and Pedroia. The Red Sox is a team having fun after a dismal situation last year leading to them playing their best baseball under their new manager as they remember the pain of last year. Look for the Red Sox to dominate at home with the Green Monster and pull off key hits to spark offense against the quality pitching of the Cards. The Sox are coming off a big series against the Detroit Tigers who many considered best in baseball with their combo of pitching and hitting which the Sox countered well. Watch out for Big Papi !!!