Oct 7, 2012, 8:33 AM EDT
You can’t predict baseball, but you can at least lay out the parameters. So let’s take a look at what the Cardinals and Nationals have in store for us in the National League Division Series.
St. Louis Cardinals (88-74) vs. Washington Nationals (98-64)
Game 1 Sunday in St. Louis: Gio Gonzalez vs. Adam Wainwright
Game 2 Monday in St. Louis: Jordan Zimmermann vs. Jaime Garcia
Game 3 Wednesday in Washington, D.C.: Chris Carpenter vs. Edwin Jackson
Game 4 (if necessary) Thursday in Washington, D.C.
Game 5 (if necessary) Friday in Washington, D.C.
Analysis: The Nationals’ postseason rotation would obviously look far more fierce with Stephen Strasburg active, but you already knew that. And these previews are supposed to be informative. Gonzalez, a Cy Young Award candidate in the National League, posted a stellar 2.89 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 32 starts this year for the NL East champions, tallying 207 strikeouts over 199 1/3 innings. But he was almost a full run worse on the road (3.31 ERA) than at home (2.28 ERA) and he has a 4.2 career BB/9. The Cardinals, meanwhile, finished with the highest collective on-base percentage in the major leagues this season.
Beating Gonzalez in Game 1 would put the Cards in a pretty great spot. Game 2 starter Garcia has a 2.48 career ERA at home and matches up well against a Nats lineup that relies heavily on left-handed hitters Bryce Harper and Adam LaRoche. There’s a decent chance that 88-win St. Louis could be up 2-0 on 98-win Washington before the five-game series shifts to the nation’s capital. You have Bud Selig to thank for that one.
- The Nats beat the Cards in four out of seven games during the regular season and outscored ‘em 43-40.
- Zimmermann had a 2.36 ERA in 16 road starts this season and a 3.54 ERA in 16 starts in Washington. If the Nationals drop Game 1 at Busch Stadium, he could be a stabilizing force the next day.
- Wainwright showed some signs of fatigue in early September, but his final regular season start was against this same Nationals team and he held them to one earned run over six innings while striking out five. He’s been telling reporters all summer that his surgically-repaired right elbow is 100 percent healthy.
- E-Jax started opposite Wainwright in that aforementioned game, yielding eight earned runs while recording only four outs against the team he won the World Series with in 2011. That game was played at Busch Stadium. Jackson should feel a little more comfortable at home in Nationals Park for Game 3.
- Carpenter made a surprise return to the Cardinals’ rotation in mid-September after being ruled out for the year with thoracic outlet syndrome. He looked fairly sharp in his three starts down the stretch, posting a 3.71 ERA and 12/3 K/BB ratio in 17 innings against the Cubs, Astros and Reds. The veteran righty was an animal in the postseason last October and can be effective even when he doesn’t have his best stuff.
- It’s an odd thing in a series that features big names like Matt Holliday, Ryan Zimmerman, Carlos Beltran, Jayson Werth and Yadier Molina, but the player most casual fans will tune in to see this week is the 19-year-old Harper. He registered a 1.043 OPS over his final 126 regular-season plate appearances and told CSN Washington’s Mark Zuckerman on Saturday that he has no nerves about playing in his first postseason game. Harper has been overshadowed somewhat this year by the Angels’ Mike Trout. With the Halos failing to make the playoffs, Bryce gets the phenom spotlight all to himself.
- The Nationals will have a distinct advantage if these games are close in the later innings because of their dominant bullpen. Tyler Clippard struggled in September but has the goods to bounce back now that he’s been given a week of rest. Drew Storen has been exceptional his entire young career and Sean Burnett is an elite setup man. The Cards have some nice, battle-tested relievers in Jason Motte, Mitchell Boggs and Lance Lynn, but there’s a clear talent discrepancy. Oh, and St. Louis will carry only one lefty in the ‘pen: Mark Rzepczynski. He had a 4.24 ERA in 46 2/3 innings during the regular season.
At the MLB level, anything can happen in a five-game series. And there’s certainly no glaring favorite here. But the Cardinals get to open with two consecutive games at home, where they were 50-31 this season. A quick two-game lead would put the younger, less experienced Nationals roster on the ropes.
CARDINALS WIN THE SERIES 3-1
Apr 23, 2014, 6:35 AM EDT
Pitching porn in Atlanta. Graphic, hard core pitching porn.
Apr 22, 2014, 11:20 PM EDT
CSNNewEngland.com’s Sean McAdam reports that outfielder Shane Victorino may be activated from the disabled list Wednesday if he makes it through his third minor league rehab game Tuesday night at Triple-A Pawtucket without experiencing any issues.
Apr 22, 2014, 10:01 PM EDT
Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright landed awkwardly while trying to chase down a high-chopper off the bat of Chris Young in the seventh inning Tuesday at Citi Field and left the game with a hyperextended right knee.
Apr 22, 2014, 9:17 PM EDT
Angels fan Tim Sherrill, a resident of Ponoma, California and a member of the United States Air Force, caught Albert Pujols’ 500th career home run on Tuesday night in the nation’s capital …
Apr 22, 2014, 8:53 PM EDT
Albert Pujols hit a three-run shot to left field off Nationals starter Taylor Jordan in the top of the first inning and then crushed a two-run bomb to deep left-center off Jordan in the top of the fifth for the 499th and 500th home runs of his 14-year major league career on Tuesday night in Washington, D.C.
Apr 22, 2014, 8:39 PM EDT
Manny Machado will soon be one phone call away from rejoining the Orioles’ active major league roster. According to Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun, the young third baseman has been cleared to embark on a minor league rehab assignment this Friday with the High-A Frederick Keys.
Apr 22, 2014, 7:51 PM EDT
Watch as Albert Pujols hits his 499th career home run Tuesday off Nationals starter Taylor Jordan …
Apr 22, 2014, 7:07 PM EDT
Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune reports that Rays left-hander Matt Moore underwent Tommy John reconstructive surgery, as scheduled, Tuesday on his pitching elbow. The procedure was conducted by Dr. James Andrews and deemed a success.
Apr 22, 2014, 6:24 PM EDT
Ivan Nova was diagnosed Sunday with a partially-torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and is expected to undergo season-ending Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery. That leaves a big gap in the Yankees’ starting rotation — one that will be filled, at least initially, by left-hander Vidal Nuno.
Apr 22, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT
I’ll sleep when I’m dead. Or when Napoli gets out of the sleep room so that I can have a turn. Jeez, what’s up with that guy?
Apr 22, 2014, 4:40 PM EDT
Some folks would say never enough. I’d agree.
Apr 22, 2014, 4:18 PM EDT
Ivan Nova went for a second opinion after being diagnosed with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament and another doctor agreed with the initial verdict, recommending that the Yankees right-hander undergo season-ending Tommy John elbow surgery.
Apr 22, 2014, 3:20 PM EDT
MLB has handed out suspensions for the Easter afternoon brawl between the Brewers and Pirates.
Apr 22, 2014, 3:08 PM EDT
Baseball has survived “threats” like Carlos Gomez before. And has even thrived because of them. Should guys like him respect the game? How sad that’d be.
Apr 22, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT
And talking about baseball stars going “head-to-head” is kinda meaningless.
Apr 22, 2014, 1:27 PM EDT
No official word from MLB yet, but Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports that Brewers catcher Martin Maldonado has been suspended five games and fined $2,500 for his role in Sunday afternoon’s brawl with the Pirates.
Apr 22, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT
MLB Network now has approximately 3,457 major leaguers on staff. Ryan Dempster is the newest.
Apr 22, 2014, 11:31 AM EDT
Guess what: it’s not in the front row.
Apr 22, 2014, 11:19 AM EDT
Yankees closer David Robertson is back from the disabled list after missing the past two weeks with a strained groin.
Apr 22, 2014, 10:47 AM EDT
Left-hander James Paxton has been on the disabled list since April 9 and Adam Jude of the Seattle Times reports that the Mariners rookie is unlikely to rejoin the rotation until at least late May.
- And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights 0
- Albert Pujols becomes 26th member of 500 home run club 28
- MLB suspends Martin Maldonado, Carlos Gomez, Travis Snider, and Russell Martin for Easter brawl 45
- “Respect the Game?” Phooey. 102
- The MLBPA is serious about investigating leaks to reporters regarding Stephen Drew, Kendrys Morales 32