Oct 21, 2013, 2:10 PM EDT
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.
May 6, 2015, 9:37 PM EDT
Eddie Rosario was promoted from Triple-A Rochester on Monday and drew his first start Wednesday night against the A’s. Here’s the very first pitch of his very first major league at-bat …
May 6, 2015, 8:42 PM EDT
Joey Votto is probably facing a suspension for this scene Wednesday at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park …
May 6, 2015, 7:56 PM EDT
Some very good news here for the Dodgers …
May 6, 2015, 7:04 PM EDT
Tigers right fielder J.D. Martinez had batted either fourth or fifth in his first 26 starts this season, but he is 2-for-25 with 16 strikeouts in his last six games …
May 6, 2015, 6:18 PM EDT
Jeff Samardzija officially dropped the appeal of his five-game suspension on Wednesday, temporarily opening a spot in the White Sox starting rotation.
May 6, 2015, 5:25 PM EDT
Acquired from the Braves as part of the Jason Heyward trade this offseason, Walden posted a 0.87 ERA and 12/4 K/BB ratio in 10 innings for the Cardinals.
May 6, 2015, 4:03 PM EDT
Tough news for “Kitten Face.”
May 6, 2015, 3:43 PM EDT
Diamondbacks, Royals, Indians and Mariners.
May 6, 2015, 2:47 PM EDT
May 6, 2015, 2:33 PM EDT
May 6, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT
Bonds is a sponsor of a women’s cycling team. And, in cycling, is finding more acceptance and peace than he’s found in baseball in a long, long time.
May 6, 2015, 1:05 PM EDT
Michael Taylor fills in.
May 6, 2015, 12:03 PM EDT
And he’s still only 26 years old.
May 6, 2015, 11:32 AM EDT
There’s a chance for some history on the Say-Hey Kid’s 84th birthday.
May 6, 2015, 11:03 AM EDT
And he is fully justified in being fed up.
Stephen Strasburg left Tuesday’s start after three innings with “discomfort under his shoulder blade”
May 6, 2015, 10:47 AM EDT
“The irritation kind of rattles the cage a little bit.”
May 6, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT
Two years ago Hochevar a 1.92 ERA and 82/17 K/BB ratio in 70 innings.
May 6, 2015, 9:36 AM EDT
In my day we called it a benching.
May 6, 2015, 9:01 AM EDT
A new report on the incident suggests that the umpire was just as much an aggressor as Jacoby was.
May 6, 2015, 8:39 AM EDT
We should hear about Verlander’s status sometime today.
- Video: Joey Votto ejected, bumps umpire 8
- Carlos Rodon to make first MLB start Saturday 1
- Bryce Harper’s underrated day: Three at-bats, three homers 42
- Tigers, doctors clear Justin Verlander to resume throwing 12
- Brook Jacoby and umpire Doug Eddings were in a “loud, obscenity-laced, nose-to-nose exchange” 55
- And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights 143
- Devin Mesoraco could need hip surgery 11
- Alex Cobb confirmed to have elbow ligament tear 14
- And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights (143)
- Torii Hunter doesn’t care what Floyd Mayweather has done outside of the boxing ring (140)
- Some anti-DH counterpoints (102)
- Alex Rodriguez hits a pinch-hit home run to tie Willie Mays at 660 home runs (96)
- And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights (95)