National League Division Series preview: Pittsburgh Pirates vs St. Louis Cardinals

NLDS Preview: Cardinals vs Pirates

10/3/13 in MLB   |   Pat   |   5234 respect

Sep 23, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright (50) throws to a Washington Nationals batter during the first inning at Busch Stadium. St. Louis defeated Washington 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY SportsThe REAL playoffs start this afternoon when the Cardinals host the Pirates for Game 1 of their best-of-5 series. Here's the schedule:

Game 1: Thursday, October 3, 5:07 p.m. ET (televised on TBS)
Pirates (A.J. Burnett) at Cardinals (Adam Wainwright)

Game 2: Friday, October 4, 1:07 p.m. ET (MLB Network)
Pirates (Gerrit Cole) at Cardinals (Lance Lynn)

Game 3: Sunday, October 6, time TBD (TBS)
Cardinals (Joe Kelly) at Pirates (Francisco Liriano)

Game 4, if necessary: Monday, October 7, time TBD (TBS)
Cardinals (TBD) at Pirates (Charlie Morton)

Game 5, if necessary: Wednesday, October 9, time TBD (TBS)
Pirates (Burnett) at Cardinals (Wainwright)

This matchup features two of the best pitching staffs in the National League. The Pirates and Cardinals are ranked 3rd and 5th, respectively, in ERA among NL teams. Both teams feature a strong rotation, but the Pirates' bullpen has been a bit better, particularly as of late.

On the offensive side, the Cardinals have a clear advantage. Their offense led the NL with 783 runs, which trails only AL powerhouses Detroit and Boston in all of MLB. The Pirates finished 9th in the NL with 634 runs scored, but their stingy pitching staff is what propelled them into the first Wild Card slot.

The Cardinals seem to be the favorites, and came into the postseason rather hot, winning their final 6 games. The Pirates, on the other hand, are on an emotional high after an incredible win over the Reds in the wild card game. Pittsburgh fans are more excited about the Pirates than most of them have ever been in their lifetime, after 2 decades of losing seasons.

I'm predicting the Cardinals win in 5. Leave your predictions in the comments below.
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10/4/13   |   Pat   |   5234 respect

Eric_ wrote:
Understatement of the day: AJ Burnett was not good in the 3rd inning. Also, Carlos Beltran in the playoffs is ridiculous, and not in a Delmon Young way.

It's amazing what Beltran has done in the playoffs. I don't really buy into the "clutch" concept, since most players are what they are, whether it's the playoffs or the regular season. But Beltran's postseason numbers are absolutely insane, and he's got a pretty substantial sample size at this point.

10/3/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

(Edited by Eric_)

Understatement of the day: AJ Burnett was not good in the 3rd inning. Also, Carlos Beltran in the playoffs is ridiculous, and not in a Delmon Young way.

10/3/13   |   Scott   |   54624 respect

Two things stand out for me in this series.

Home field and RISP.

We all saw in the wild card game just how rocking PNC Park was but don't forget that St. Louis has a very good home field advantage as well.  The other key for me will be whether the Cardinals can continue to hit at a ridiculous clip with runners in scoring position.  There offense should be good enough to get runners on base.  What they do with them will be the key as to whether they can take this series from the Pirates.

I think each of these games will be decided by the bullpens.  I think the home field is the deciding factor. 

Cardinals in 5