#1: St. Louis has better starting pitching. Beginning with Adam Wainwright, who may prove to be the decade's predominant post-season pitcher, the Cardinals have four quality starters, in Wainwright, Joe Kelly, Lance Lynn and amazing rookie, Michael Wacha.
Wainwright is 4-1 in seven starts and nine relief appearances (all in 2006) with a 2.10 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 55 2/3 innings. Wacha is 3-0, with an amazing 0.43 ERA in three post-season starts, fanning batters at a rate of about one per inning. Another rookie, Joe Kelly, may not have performed well this post-season, but has garnered the respect of manager, Mike Matheny, and gets the start in game three versus Boston's Clay Buchholz, who has not been particularly effective. In four post-season starts (2009, 2013), Buchholz has no decision, allowing 12 earned runs in 20 2/3 innings.
#2 Allen Craig will DH in Boston. The first two games in Boston will be a return to the lineup for Allen Craig, one of the Cardinals' best power hitters, who's been sidelined since September 4, but is returning from his foot injury and will DH in Boston. when the series shifts to St. Louis, Criag could replace Matt Adams, who's done a solid job filling in at first base.
#3 David Ortiz and Mike Napoli will play in St. Louis. The two big boppers from Boston likely be on the field in St. Louis, when the teams play without the AL's DH rule. That means both will have to field positions they are unaccustomed to and may not be adept at playing. Ortiz will probably be at first base, after spending the entire regular season and playoffs in his usual role as DH. Napoli will shift from first base to catcher, and he is not very good defensively, and also quite rusty, which could be a detriment to Boston pitching.
#4 Yadier Molina has a gun. In what is somewhat a reversal of roles, the Red Sox have more speed, especially in regulars Jacoby Ellsbury, Shane Victorino, Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts off the bench, all of whom are capable of stealing a base at any time. However, Molina is one of the best defensive catchers in the business, and has a rocket for an arm from behind the plate. This season, Molina gunned down 20 of 46 attempted base stealers, and has nailed 11 of 27 in his cumulative post-season career. Molina's presence behind the plate slows down any running game and often eliminates it.
#5 Carlos Beltran. If Reggie Jackson was the Mr. October of the 1970s, Beltran fits the mold for the 21st century with a batting average of .337 with 16 home runs, 37 RBI, 44 runs, 33 walks in 45 post-season games. He has never been caught stealing in the post-season in 11 tries.
If all of this sounds like it favors the Cardinals, that's because it does, despite the Red Sox being the favorite in the betting spots. When it comes down to a seven-game series for all the marbles, its often the little things that make big impacts.
Today's Trivia: Who holds the lifetime mark for career post-season stolen bases?
Yesterday's Answer: Both Bobby Cox and Tony LaRussa won manager of the year four times.