It’s official. After an awesome grandslam by Shane Victorino on Oct 19th (which I was there in person to witness) The Boston Red Sox took the sting out of the Detroit Tigers and won the ALCS in six games. Now the Red Sox go on to face the St Louis Cardinals in a 2004 World Series rematch. Both of these teams are evenly matched. It should be an exciting series. Now that a date is set (10/23) It’s time to start speculating who will win the fall classic this year.
The Red Sox face some big challenges going forward. They managed to beat this years AL Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer and arguably the best starting rotation in Baseball but the Cardinals starting pitching is no picnic either. They have Adam Wainright (19-9 2.94) leading the rotation and Michael Wacha has pitched an incredible post season! He has allowed only one run over his last 29 2/3 innings pitched. The Red Sox also face a much better younger and dominant bullpen compared to the Tigers. Both closer Kevin Rosenthal and reliever Carlos Martinez are unhittable nightmares at times. There fastballs can top out at 100-mph consistently and they don’t even look like they are breaking a sweat. Cardinals pitching is holding opponents to a .207 average this post season and the bullpen alone is holding hitters to a .177 average. That is incredible! Boston’s tactic of driving up the pitch count against good starting pitching so they can face the bullpen isn’t going to work.
The Red Sox also face another issue when they go to St Louis. With the DH being removed Mike Napoli will have to sit in favor of David Ortiz playing first. While Napoli can be painful to watch at the plate sometimes and I find myself screaming as he swings and misses at pitches out of the strike zone, he is one of those players that when he is hot he contributes in a big way. He has shown signs lately of turning a hot streak on. Sitting his bat sucks!
The Red Sox also need to be careful of how they pitch to Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran he is a career .440 hitter with runners in scoring position in his career in the playoffs and has been a big part of the success for the Cardinals in the playoffs. The Cardinals will also activate Allen Craig for this series which will no doubt give the Cardinals lineup some extra pop.
The Red Sox deserve a ton of credit. While there is no one statistic that jumps out off the page, they are a great all around team. They have a reliable bullpen. Tazawa and Breslow are solid and closer Koji Uehara is a 9th inning strike machine. The starting rotation while serviceable has struggled at times. Lester and Lackey have had a terrific post season. Buchholz has struggled a little allowing 10 runs in 16.2 innings but he is capable of turning it around. Peavy falls into the same category.
The Red Sox have been hitting better than the Cardinals this post season. The Cardinals are hitting .210 as a team vs the Red Sox .236.
St Louis doesn’t really have any speed on the bases. While Ellsbury is obviously the speedster on the team, both Pedroia and Victorino are quick enough that they deserve attention while on base.
Boston I feel has more depth. They have a deeper bench and lineup. They also appear to be healthier than the Cardinals.
It remains to be seen also if these young Cardinal pitchers can remain poise and not crack under World Series pressure especially with the Red Sox having home field advantage.
With the World Series days away, I have no doubt it will be a memorable series. The Red Sox have the better bats and base runners. They led Baseball in runs scored with 853 but the Cardinals have the better pitching. Good pitching beats good hitting. However, with Boston having home field advantage and facing young, unexperienced (but awesome pitching) I feel Boston will win in seven games. Go Sox!