You can’t predict baseball, but you can at least lay out the parameters. So let’s take a look at what the Phillies and the Cardinals have in store for us in the National League Division Series.
St. Louis Cardinals (90-72) vs. Philadelphia Phillies (102-60)
Game 1 Saturday in Philadelphia: Kyle Lohse vs. Roy Halladay
Game 2 Sunday in Philadelphia: Undecided vs. Cliff Lee
Game 3 Tuesday in St. Louis: Cole Hamels vs. Chris Carpenter
Game 4 (if necessary) Wednesday in St. Louis: Roy Oswalt vs. Undecided
Game 5 (if necessary) Next Friday in Philadelphia: Undecided vs. Undecided
Analysis: I think Tony La Russa is leaning way too hard on Undecided here. His arm is really gonna be sore at this rate. My guess: he goes with Jaime Garcia — a groundball pitcher — for Game 2 in the cozy confines of Citizens Bank Park, and then Edwin Jackson — a flyball pitcher — at home in Game 4 at the more pitcher-friendly Busch Stadium, but La Russa could flip-flop those guys around. Carpenter, who threw a shutout Wednesday night, is a lock for Game 3. As for the Phillies, Oswalt in Game 4 is an assumption. If the Phillies found themselves down 2-1 going into that game, I have this feeling we’d see Doc Halladay again.
- It might be tempting to say the Phillies will simply steamroll the Cardinals, but the Cardinals took six of nine from the Phillies head-to-head this season;
- One of the reasons: Jaime Garcia. He has been brilliant against Philadelphia for the past two years, allowing one run against them in 15 innings in 2011;
- Another reason to give the Cardinals a puncher’s chance: the best offense in the National League. If anyone can touch the Phillies’ dominant starting rotation, it’s these guys;
- That said, Matt Holliday and Rafael Furcal are both banged up. Allen Craig has been hot lately and will take over for Holliday, but if Furcal can’t go, it’s a big falloff to Nick Punto;
- Both of these teams have seen high drama — not the good kind — from their bullpens in late innings. The Phillies crew is the more talented bunch, but they’ve had their bad moments. The Cardinals blew 26 saves this year. It’s safe to say that a lot of these games will be decided late.
- Quite a study in contrasts with these two managers too. Charlie Manuel is the epitome of no-nonsense. Tony La Russa is nonsense personified. Expect a lot of tight closeups of these guys blowing bubbles and looking concerned during playoff broadcasts.
Despite the in-season advantage the Cardinals had and despite their potent offense, it’s pretty hard to say that they can beat Halladay, Lee and Hamels. Heck, hard to say they could beat two of those guys. Remember: the 2010 Reds had the best offense in the NL and they just got steamrolled by Philly in the first round themselves. Tony La Russa always has a trick or two up his sleeve, but I don’t think it’ll be enough to overcome the Phillies.
PHILLIES WIN THE SERIES 3-1.