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St. Louis VS New York Preview

NATIONAL LEAGUE PLAYOFFS—ROUND 2

The Mets dispatched the Dodgers without breaking a sweat, while the Cards handled the Padres with almost equal aplomb. That’s just about where the comparison of these two teams stops. This looks like a no-brainer—the Mets win. But it’s not necessarily that simple. New York should win. Here’s why and how St. Louis can possibly stop them.

Pitching is not the hallmark of either of these clubs. If Pedro Martinez (9-8, 4.48 ERA) and Orlando Hernandez (11- 11, 4.66) were healthy and able to play, then New York would have a fine triumvirate with Tom Glavine (15- 7, 3.82) as the first starter. During the regular season the Mets’ pitching staff held the edge over the Cards with a 4.14 ERA versus St. Louis’ 4.54 ERA and with opponents hitting .253 against the Mets, while opposing batters hit Cardinals’ pitching at a .268 pace. Henandez led the team in Ks with 164 and Martinez was second with 137. Glavine was third with 131. So, along with Glavine the rotation for the series includes John Maine (6-5, 3.60 ERA), Oliver Perez (3-13, 6.55 ERA) and Steve Trachsel (15-8, 4.97). Closer Billy Wagner (40 SV, 2.24 ERA) notched 2 saves in the division series accumulating a 3.00 ERA.

Although the Mets don’t sport a scary rotation, neither do the Cardinals. Lefty Mark Mulder (6-7, 7.14), a potential Mets killer, is out for the post-season. Chris Carpenter (15-8, 3.09 ERA) is their top man, but due to his work against the Padres in the division series, will probably be their third starter. Jeff Weaver (8-14, 5.76 ERA) and Jeff Suppan (12-7, 4.12) will likely be one and two. Coach Tony LaRussa’s fourth starter? That’s anyone’s guess. As a closer, Adam Wainwright (3 SV, 3.12 ERA), with a 6.75 ERA, has 2 saves against San Diego. St. Louis save ace Jason Isringhausen is out with a season-ending injury.

The pitching match-ups amount to one staff that is depleted (the Mets) struggling against another staff that is severely depleted (the Cards). Starting pitching is extremely close but goes to the Mets and the bullpen, especially when it comes to depth and closer, definitely falls to New York.

Hitting is a draw as far as averages are concerned with St. Louis at .269 and New York at .264, but the team from Flushing had 200 homeruns during the regular season, while the one from Missouri knocked out 184. Hitting is the key for St. Louis. Albert Pujols (.331 AV, 49 HR, 119 RBI), Scott Rolen (.296 AV, 48 HR, 94 RBI), Jim Edmonds ( .257 AV, 19 HR, 70 RBI), Juan Encarnacion ( .278 AV, 19 HR, 79 RBI), David Eckstein (292 AV, 2 HR, 23 RBI) and Chris Duncan ( .293 AV, 22 HR, 43 RBI) must all step up. Against San Diego, only three guys from this group hit more than their weight—Pujols (.333), Edmonds (.308) and Encarnacion (.286). Rolen (.091), Duncan (.167) and Eckstein (.133) were complete busts. The big surprise was Ronnie Belliard who hit .462 (almost 200 points higher than his season average).

In the division series, six out of the eight Mets starters hit between .333 and .455 against the Dodgers. Paul Lo Duca (REG SEAS: .318 AV, 5 HR, 49 RBI) led the hit parade. Followed by Cliff Floyd (REG SEAS: .244 AV, 11 HR, 44 RBI), Carlos Delgado (REG SEAS: .265 AV, 38 HR, 114 RBI), Endy Chavez (REG SEAS: .306 AV, 4 HR, 42 RBI), David Wright (REG SEAS: .311 AV, 26 HR, 116 RBI) and Shawn Green (REG SEAS: .277 AV, 15 HR, 66 RBI). Carlos Beltran (REG SEAS: .275 AV, 41 HR, 116 RBI) underperformed at .222, but with the rest of the club belting the ball and the team winning, nobody noticed. If the Met hitters can continue this type of production, then the series will be over very quickly.

Willie Randolph has done a fine job as the skipper of the Mets, but Tony LaRussa has a heck of a lot of experience in his back pocket and head. The managing smarts tilt the Cards’ way, but a manager can’t hit or pitch.

Two things must happen for the Cardinals to have a chance. First, this team, as the Mets have done, must take their hitting to a whole new level in the post season. Tom Glavine does not have a great post-season record. St. Louis has to be patient at the plate and wear him down. If they can beat him out of the box, the club has a chance. As far as the Cards’ pitching goes, Jeff Weaver must turn in another strong performance and some how Chris Carpenter needs to get two starts (that means the series has to go six games). Suppan, not the greatest pitcher under pressure, needs a strong game. That’s not likely, but it can happen.

Maddux Sports Series Prediction.

It’s not impossible for the Cardinals to win this series, but it’s certainly improbable. New York in 5 games.

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NY Mets -175 Current Price at Time of Publish

 

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