Oct 21, 2013, 2:10 PM EST
This postseason has been dominated by pitching, so who has the arms advantage in the World Series?
During the regular season the Red Sox ranked sixth among AL teams in runs allowed and the Cardinals ranked fifth among NL teams in runs allowed, but overall totals can be misleading when it comes to evaluating the quality of a playoff pitching staff because lesser pitchers rarely make an appearance.
For instance, through 11 playoff games for the Cardinals and 10 playoff games for the Red Sox both teams have used four starting pitchers. That in itself is obviously a big change from the regular season and in the Red Sox’s case they’ve significantly shortened the bullpen pecking order too, essentially going with a four-man relief corps in anything resembling a high-leverage situation.
And that’s where the strength of these two teams really shines through: They don’t have any real, “oh no, this guy is coming into the game?!” weak links once the pitching staff is shortened. Rotation orders haven’t been announced yet, but here’s how the starters compare:
(xFIP stands for Expected Fielding Independent Pitching, about which you can learn more by clicking here.)
Adam Wainwright is the best starting pitcher in this series and based on how he’s pitched so far in his brief MLB career Michael Wacha has made a strong case for second-best, but Jon Lester also has a lengthy track record of very good work and Clay Buchholz had a 1.74 ERA in the regular season.
Every starter who’ll take the mound in this series is at worst a solid mid-rotation guy and the Cardinals have so much starter depth that they aren’t even going to use stud rookie Shelby Miller. I’d give St. Louis a slight rotation edge based on the Wainwright-Wacha one-two punch, but in the (likely) three-four spots I actually trust Boston’s Lackey-Peavy duo a bit more than Kelly-Lynn.
Which brings us to the bullpens …
Trevor Rosenthal: 75 IP, 2.63 ERA, 2.34 xFIP
Carlos Martinez: 28 IP, 5.08 ERA, 3.83 xFIP
John Axford: 65 IP, 4.02 ERA, 3.56 xFIP
Seth Maness: 62 IP, 2.32 ERA, 3.13 xFIP
Kevin Siegrist: 40 IP, 0.45 ERA, 3.00 xFIP
Randy Choate: 35 IP, 2.29 ERA, 3.30 xFIP
Koji Uehara has basically been as dominant as a pitcher can possibly be, in the regular season and the postseason, but the Cardinals also have a stud closer in Trevor Rosenthal. And while the Red Sox may struggle to get consistently strong work bridging the gap to Uehara the Cardinals have no shortage of quality setup options from the right side and left side. I’d trust Uehara over anyone right now, but I’d trust Rosenthal and his assortment of setup men over Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, and whatever Red Sox manager John Farrell can piece together in the middle innings.
None of which is to say the Red Sox’s bullpen is a huge weakness or anything. It’s not, but if we’re splitting hairs here trying to find potential advantages in this series I think the Cardinals’ bullpen depth could play a big role. They have 5-6 good options, including a lefty specialist in Randy Choate who’ll no doubt be matched up against David Ortiz in some big-time situations.
So which team has the World Series pitching edge? I’d go with the Cardinals, however slightly, based on the strength of Wainwright-Wacha and bullpen depth. And of course me writing this post about all the good pitching in this series means we’re probably looking at a bunch of 9-7 and 10-8 slugfests.
Dec 17, 2014, 2:51 PM EST
Sticking together after seven seasons.
Dec 17, 2014, 2:31 PM EST
The pitcher denies there were issues. But now he’s off to Boston, so I guess it doesn’t matter.
Dec 17, 2014, 2:01 PM EST
Wil Myers’ replacement in Tampa Bay?
Dec 17, 2014, 12:53 PM EST
And if it blows up, it could impact the Jimmy Rollins trade too.
Dec 17, 2014, 12:30 PM EST
The Sox are getting themselves a handy reliever.
Dec 17, 2014, 12:12 PM EST
Seattle is looking for right-handed bats.
Dec 17, 2014, 11:53 AM EST
Right team, even if he picked the wrong position.
Dec 17, 2014, 11:15 AM EST
They’re getting lots of calls on him, though.
Dec 17, 2014, 11:10 AM EST
It appears as though it’ll only be a two-team trade, with Myers heading to San Diego.
Dec 17, 2014, 10:03 AM EST
Which could have some baseball implications
Dec 17, 2014, 9:46 AM EST
But he could start the home opener
No, it’s not crazy to pay a free agent for what you think he’ll do in the future. That’s the bleedin’ point.
Dec 17, 2014, 9:00 AM EST
A columnist takes a strange approach to criticizing the Brandon McCarthy contract. And his reasoning for doing so is pretty clear.
Dec 17, 2014, 8:40 AM EST
Seems like a bad idea. And that’s even if the field would even fit. Which it may not.
Dec 17, 2014, 6:56 AM EST
Tim Raines and Alan Trammell improved in the past year, apparently, returning to their 2012 quality. But some guys “just don’t look right.”
Dec 16, 2014, 11:30 PM EST
The Dodgers dumped Brian Wilson on Tuesday afternoon, choosing to eat the remaining $9.5 million on his contract. And the new front office is not done unloading expensive mistakes from the old regime.
Dec 16, 2014, 10:41 PM EST
With so many clubs seeking power this winter, Garrett Jones could fetch the Fish some legitimate talent.
Dec 16, 2014, 9:27 PM EST
C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that the Giants have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with relief pitcher Curtis Partch.
Dec 16, 2014, 8:15 PM EST
From MASN’s Roch Kubatko comes word that the Orioles have agreed to terms on a one-year free agent contract with reliever Wesley Wright.
Dec 16, 2014, 7:23 PM EST
Confirmation here from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal …
Dec 16, 2014, 6:19 PM EST
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported last week that the Rays had received calls from “about a half-dozen teams” regarding the availability of young outfielder Wil Myers. And it appears the Tampa Bay front office was paying attention to those calls …
- So, apparently we’re sweating the Matt Kemp physical now 33
- The United States will seek to normalize relations with Cuba 86
- Marlins complete Michael Morse deal: two years, $16 million 18
- Padres, Rays, Mariners discussing trade involving Wil Myers 36
- It is perfectly clear that A-Rod is the Yankees’ DH. At best. So there will be no drama, right? 37
- Dodgers cut Brian Wilson and his $9.5 million salary 53
- Royals and Alex Rios agree to one-year, $11 million contract 16
- Chase Headley signs a four-year deal with the Yankees worth at least $52 million. 95
- Baseball’s highest-ranking Hispanic woman employee sues for discrimination (163)
- Cubs, Red Sox, Dodgers, Padres, Rangers, and Astros interested in Phillies’ Cole Hamels (110)
- Jon Lester goes to Cubs for $155 million over six years (99)
- The United States will seek to normalize relations with Cuba (96)