With a thorough 9-0 drubbing of the Dodgers in Game 6 of the NLCS, the Cardinals clinched a World Series appearance for the first time since, uh, last week. At least it feels that way, anyway. They won the World Series in 2011 against the Texas Rangers in seven games.
The Cardinals are anxiously waiting for the ALCS to wrap up to find out where they’ll go and who they’ll play on Wednesday in Game 1 of the World Series. They’ll open up either in Boston or Detroit.
If it’s the Red Sox, who are up three games to two, it will be a rematch of the 2004 World Series. The Red Sox swept the Cardinals in four games, breaking the 86-year-old “Curse of the Bambino”. That World Series featured players such as Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, and Derek Lowe for Boston. For the Cardinals, they had Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds, Scott Rolen, and Dan Haren. It was a long time ago.
If it’s the Tigers, it will be a rematch of the 2006 World Series, which the Cardinals took in five games. That World Series featured players such as Curtis Granderson, Magglio Ordonez, and Kenny Rogers for Detroit. The Cardinals had David Eckstein, Jeff Weaver, and Anthony Reyes. Ah, memories.
The Cardinals will have four whole days of rest, meaning they’ll be able to set up their rotation exactly the way they want. In fact, Michael Wacha would be on schedule if he were to start Game 1. It will be interesting to see in exactly which order the Cardinals line up their starters.
The Marlins are intent on adding one of the three best relievers available on the free agent market, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. Those three, of course, are Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Mark Melancon.
As Ashley noted earlier, Melancon is reportedly fielding multiple four-year offers in excess of $60 million. The price tags for Chapman and Jansen are likely to match or exceed that. The Marlins haven’t typically been eager to whip out the checkbook for free agents but with the bullpen being the name of the game in baseball these days, GM Michael Hill may feel the need to match his rivals.
The Nationals, Giants, Yankees, Cubs, and Dodgers are the teams most often linked to the “big-three” group of relievers, so it won’t be easy for the Marlins.
A.J. Ramos handled the closer’s role for the Marlins this past season and did an admirable job, saving 40 games with a 2.81 ERA and a 73/35 K/BB ratio in 64 innings. There’s no doubt, though, that Chapman, Jansen, or Melancon would represent a significant upgrade in the ninth inning.
C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Reds manager Bryan Price is likely going to use a trio of pitchers in the closer’s role: Raisel Iglesias, Tony Cingrani, and Michael Lorenzen. At RedsFest on Saturday, Price said:
I’d say right now that we have a series of guys that I’m comfortable with in the ninth inning and that would include (Raisel) Iglesias, (Tony) Cingrani and (Michael Lorenzen). Should we stay with this format – which I intend to do – all three of those guys and maybe more could have opportunities in save situations. At this point in time, there’s no defined closer. There are multiple options and I’d like to stick with the philosophy that we’re going to have our multi-inning guys, so we’re going to need multi-closers.
This seems to be part of the new bullpen zeitgeist in which managers are shying away from strictly-defined roles for their relievers. Indians manager Terry Francona’s postseason success using Andrew Miller likely had some degree of influence on Price’s willingness to go with a three-headed giant.
Iglesias started the 2016 season in the Reds’ rotation but missed two months with an injury, then moved to the bullpen in late June. Price put him in the closer’s role down the stretch in September. The right-hander overall finished the season with a 2.53 ERA and an 83/26 K/BB ratio in 78 1/3 innings.
Cingrani battled control issues in his 63 innings of work this past season, finishing with a 4.14 ERA and a 49/37 K/BB ratio. He’s left-handed, though, and gives Price some matchup flexibility in the late innings.
Lorenzen impressed in his first full season as a reliever, ending the year with a 2.88 ERA and a 48/13 K/BB ratio in 50 innings. The right-hander uses a fastball that sits around 96 MPH on average along with a cutter and slider.