Lost in all the hoopla of the Red Sox losing a 9-game lead to the Rays was the Cardinals overcoming an 8.5 game deficit to the Atlanta Braves. It was not long ago that the Cardinals seemed to have no shot at the postseason. Just ask Nyjer Morgan back on September 7th:
“Where still n 1st and I hope those crying birds injoy watching tha Crew in tha Playoffs!!! Aaaaahhhhh!!!”
I can’t be the only person who wouldn’t mind seeing the Brewers have to get through the Cardinals setting up a Morgan vs. Pujols confrontation.
Unfortunately, that won’t end in the same manner Gaby Sanchez’s displeasure with Morgan did. Take a moment and watch Morgan get victimized by the finest pro wrestling clothesline since John Bradshaw Layfield retired.
Philadelphia Phillies vs St. Louis Cardinals Preview
Roy Halladay’s first trip to the postseason was quite a memorable one, (he threw only the second no-hitter in playoff history in his first playoff start) though it ended in bitter disappointment. The two-time Cy Young Award winner, his teammates, and just about everyone else in Philadelphia expects the Phillies to win the World Series this time around.
Then again, the city of Boston thought the same thing
Led by their Four Aces, the Phillies cruised to their fifth straight NL East title, winning a franchise-record and major league-best 102 games.
The Cardinals needed an incredible collapse by Atlanta and help from Philadelphia to earn the wild card. St. Louis trailed the Braves by 10 1/2 games on Aug. 25, but went 23-8 the rest of the way and got in after Game 162 when the Phillies completed a three-game sweep of Atlanta.
The Cardinals (90-72) won six of nine against Philadelphia during the season, with two of those wins coming right after the Phillies wrapped up the division.
The health of Matt Holliday (hand) is a huge question mark. Holliday is one of the most underrated elite hitters in baseball and will be an integral part of the Cardinals attempt to solve The Philly Phour
During the Cardinals’ mad dash toward the top of the National League Wild Card standings in September, Lance Berkman played in 25 games, batted .374, had an OPS of .941, drew 14 walks, scored 16 runs and had seven extra-base hits.
Philadelphia’s Roy Halladay (19-6, 2.35 ERA, 220 K’s), Cliff Lee (17-8, 2.40 ERA, 238 K’s) and Cole Hamels (14-9, 2.79, 194 K’s) combined for a 50-23 record, 2.51 ERA and 652 strikeouts in 682 1/3 innings. They also compiled an arrangement of numbers no starting trio had assembled in the modern era of baseball.
Entering the 2011 season, five teams since 1901 had two starting pitchers throw at least 200 innings, average at least eight strikeouts per nine innings and finish the season with an ERA+ of at least 130. Halladay, Lee and Hamels all surpassed these thresholds in 2011.
The Phillies had the poorest September (16-14) of the eight postseason teams. That may have been related to the fact they were the first to clinch, on Sept. 18.
Of all their possible NLDS matchups, this could be least favorable to the Phillies. By personally eliminating the Braves, they arranged a date with the only team against which they had a noteworthy losing record (3-6).
But what does all this mean?
What I have seen over the past month is a Philly team that has become complacent. Throw in the declining skills of the entire offense (Hunter Pence discluded) and the Phillies, despite the fact they aren’t “supposed” to lose, really could be in trouble here.
The Cardinals are one of the hottest teams in the MLB right now. If they have Matt Holliday back, they become even more dangerous. Throw in the fact Pujols is back to playing like Albert Pujols and you can not count this team out.
I think Philadelphia wins Game 1, Carpenter, on the heels of a 2-hit shutout on Wednesday, beats Cliff Lee in Game 2 and that momentum will help carry St. Louis to victory. I also think Carpenter will be back for Game 5 on short rest and shut down his former rotation mate Halladay.
How can I say that? Easily. St. Louis is on a roll ever since their deal with the Blue Jays. Corey Patterson has been key off the bench, Edwin Jackson is as good as he’s ever been and Octavio Dotel and Marc Rzepczynski have taken a decent bullpen and made it elite. Not to mention the fact they both have two of baseball’s best names (yes, I know Philly has Antonio Bastardo).
The big key here is Carpenter. Lost in Wednesday’s craziness was a dominant effort by one of baseball’s most underrated pitchers. Right now, he’s pitching better than anyone not named Kershaw and with two potential starts, I see that as two definite losses for Broadstreet.
Baseball is a game of momentum and Philadelphia is not playing well enough to beat a St. Louis team that has never looked better.
NLDS Prediction: St. Louis in 5 games
Philadelphia Phillies v St. Louis Cardinals NLDS TV Schedule and Pitching Matchups
- TV Network: TBS (Game 2 on TNT taking the spot of WCW Saturday Night)
- Game 1: Saturday, Oct. 1 at 5:07 p.m. ET @ Philadelphia
- Game 2: Sunday, Oct. 2 at 8:07 p.m. ET @ Philadelphia
- Game 3: Tuesday, Oct. 4 time TBA ET @ St. Louis
- Game 4: Wednesday Oct. 5 time TBA @ St. Louis
- Game 5: Friday Oct. 7 time TBA @ Philadelphia
- Game 1: Kyle Lohse (14-8, 3.39) vs. Roy Halladay (19-6, 2.35)
- Game 2: Chris Carpenter (11-9, 3.45) vs. Cliff Lee (17-8, 2.40)
- Game 3: Jamie Garcia (13-7, 3.56 vs. Cole Hamels (14-9, 2.79)
- Game 4 (probable): Edwin Jackson (12-9, 3.79) vs. Roy Oswalt (9-10, 3.69)
- Game 5 (probable): Chris Carpenter (11-9, 3.45) vs. Roy Halladay (19-6, 2.35)