2006 World Series Preview

St. Louis Vs Detroit Preview

It’s hard to believe that these are the two teams left standing. Check your score sheets. At the beginning of the divisional playoffs no one picked both of these teams to be in the World series. But they both earned it—the Tigers quickly in four games and the Cardinals in a full seven game series. Detroit enters the event well rested, while St. Louis comes in having wrested the pennant from the favorites. The Tigers have proved to everyone that they are not a Cinderella Club. No, they’re Prince Charming with everything going for them. The Cardinals are playing like a team with short-term memory loss—still not realizing they don’t have a starting rotation or a closer. It should be a great battle!

Detroit has some of the toughest pitching in the league and the best in the post-season. Both starting rotation and bullpen have had time to mend and to study St. Louis hitters live, on tape and in their sleep. From starting rookies to wizened vets—Verlander to Rogers—this is a group that can deliver. Closer Todd Jones has been virtually unhittable, with his often-used fastball on target and his occasional curve incorporated to keep batters guessing. Then there’s middle relief—Joel Zumaya, who missed three games in the Oakland series with a wrist injury, is healed and ready to go. That’s simply bad news for any team.

Anthony Reyes, with only five major league wins in his first season, gets the start in game one for the Cards. With Verlander starting for Detroit, it marks the first time in series history that two rookie get the nod for the first game. The rest of the Cardinal rotation includes Jeff Weaver, Chris Carpenter and the cool-headed Jeff Suppan. Suppan has turned into the team’s post-season ace, but he’s not available until game four. The Detroit starting four, along with Verlander and Rogers, includes Nat Robertson and Jeremy Bonderman. The designated closer—rookie Adam Wainwright—has played like a wily vet after being chosen by La Russa to replace injured star save-man Jason Isringhausen. Wainwright had never been a closer until this post-season.

With rest, time-tested youth and depth, Detroit has the edge in pitching going into the series. Although the rookie hurlers will be “the story” at first, vet anchors will be extremely important. With young guys looking to them for guidance, Rogers and Suppan carry a lot responsibility both in the clubhouse and on the mound.

In the area of hitting, the Tigers offer more consistent clout with Polanco, Granderson, Guillen and Monroe offering strong averages and Ordonez, Granderson and Monroe power. Catcher Ivan Rodriguez has not been hitting a lick but no one can steal on his arm, and the lack of offense is a concession for his great “D.”

The Cardinals have seen far less production from their hitters. Pujols, Belliard and Molina have been the anchors in the post-season, with Edmonds starting to find a bit more consistency recently. But overall, in terms of runs, homeruns and hits, there’s been less per game production from the Cardinal than the Tigers.

Fielding for the Tigers has been more solid too. As far as managers are concerned, you’ve got Leyland and La Russa—both first-class skippers. It’s tough say either has an advantage. Overall, both have meshed well with their players, although recently there’s been some sparks between La Russa and some of his guys.

There’s a tendency to consider Detroit the underdog because of how far removed they have from the post-season in the past twenty years, but the Tigers clearly have advantages in pitching, hitting and fielding.

Maddux Sports Series Prediction.

We will continue to ride the Tigers, Detroit in 6 Games.

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