NLDS Game 2 Preview: STL @ LAD

Last night saw the Cardinals pull off yet another incredible postseason comeback to win a game they really had no business winning. At the end of the night they’d tagged Clayton Kershaw, a consensus pick for best pitcher in baseball, for 8 earned runs. That’s the most he’d allowed in a start since July 24, 2012. Also against the Cardinals. The two home runs he allowed tied a season high. Though he did on two occasions this season allow more than 8 hits.

Tonight we see each team’s #2 starters take the mound. They are two pitchers who could probably go to most other teams in baseball and be considered the staff ace. One used to be the staff ace of a team in the playoffs this season, Zack Grienke. The other has grown into the potential we’ve seen in him this season as he finally matured into a top level pitcher, Lance Lynn.

Lynn’s second half is what powered the Cardinals to the postseason. While Adam Wainwright and John Lackey each struggled with arm issues, it was Lynn’s steady right arm that kept the team in the hunt. Over the last five starts of the season, Lynn posted a 1-2 record and a 2.18 ERA. He allowed 2 earned runs on 4 hits over 6 innings in his only appearance against the Dodgers this season as the Cardinals won. He carries a career postseason ERA of 4.81, but his best postseason performances came in last season’s NLCS against the Dodgers. [click to continue…]

What pitcher’s duel? Cards win 10-9

The only good thing for writers in the top of the seventh inning of tonight’s Divisional Series affair was that their game stories weren’t a total loss. As they described the failings of a manager to go and pull his ace from a game when they no longer were getting the job done, they just simply needed to use the Find & Replace feature. Replace Mattingly for Matheny and Kershaw for Wainwright.

After Randal Grichuk went deep for a solo shot in his first postseason at bat, Wainwright managed to battle out of a pair of two on, two out jams in the bottoms of the first and second innings. Things were shaping up like the predicted pitcher’s duel. But Wainwright couldn’t emerge unscathed in the bottom of the third, which was briefly interrupted by a benches clearing skirmish after Yasiel Puig was hit by a pitch.

The Dodgers put two runs on the board in the third and everyone except Mike Matheny had figured out that it was time to try something different on the mound. The story was writing itself as Wainwright came out for the fourth and allowed two more runs. And then he came out for the fifth and let two more runs score. The two run home run for A.J. Ellis was the final punctuation on Wainwright’s night as it finally chased him from the game. [click to continue…]

NLDS Game 1 Preview: STL @ LAD

It feels like forever since the Major League Baseball season ended last Sunday, but the St. Louis Cardinals will return to the field this afternoon against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first game of the National League Divisional Series. It is the second straight season that the Dodgers and the Cardinals have met in the postseason. Last year, the Cardinals eliminated them from the postseason in the NL Championship Series in six games.

There may not be a better pitching matchup in the postseason than will take the mound in game one of the NLDS for the Cardinals and the Dodgers. Clayton Kershaw, a pitcher who will probably win his third Cy Young Award in four seasons this year, facing Adam Wainwright, who probably would have won a couple of those Cy Young Awards if not for Kershaw.

Wainwright finished up his season strong after a slump in late July and August as he battled some dead arm issues. Over his last five starts of 2014, Wainwright posted a 5-0 record  1.38 ERA and pitched at least 7 innings and allowed 1 run or fewer in four of them. He took the loss in his only start against the Dodgers on June 26th as he pitched 8 innings and allowed 1 earned as the Cardinals lost 0-1. He carries a 2.53 career postseason ERA into his start and has never taken a loss in 5 NLDS starts. [click to continue…]

Postseason Predictions

Here are my predictions for how this postseason will play out. I don’t expect much from them as, while I’m really good at picking NFL playoff results, I very much suck at picking baseball postseason winners. Part of the problem is that the series’ are so long that anything can happen. Not that it being just picking one game is guarantee of anything, I had Oakland and Pittsburgh winning their Wild Card Games and we all know what happened there.

So without much further adieu, the Divisional Series’. [click to continue…]

Cardinals release their NLDS roster

The Cardinals released their roster for the Divisional Series matchup against the Los Angeles Dodgers today. While we already knew the rotation, which Matheny gave us yesterday, the team released their full roster today.

There were some surprises, but they’d been softened for the last few weeks as everyone realized tough decisions were going to have to be made or not made. Those decisions were made as Mark Ellis, A.J. Pierzysnki, and Jason Motte were left off the roster.

Ellis wasn’t that big of a surprise, given that the veteran had an OPS+ this season about 20 points lower than what Pete Kozma put up last season. Granted Ellis never really found his footing this year, but Kozma has hit well since his September call up. I’m sure it’s a little disappointing for Ellis who signed with St. Louis specifically to pursue a World Series championship, but now he’s off the first playoff series roster and, unless something drastic changes, won’t be returning to it. [click to continue…]