Steve’s Preview of the 2013 World Series
The Designated Hitter Situation Could Play into an Advantage for the Cardinals
Allen Craig has become so dependable with runners in scoring position I automatically assume he’s going to drive in runs. He drives in runs even when he’s not batting. I dunno how. Don’t ask me. He’s Allen Craig.
His Lisfranc injury on September 4 was a blow to the team, and thankfully Matt Adams was able to step up with some big hits. At first, the Cardinals said it’d be doubtful he’d be back for the end of the regular season, then that was pushed back to the NLCS, and then he was ruled out for the series.
Now, after taking extended batting practice and running the bases, Craig is saying he’s healthy enough to be added to the roster. If this happens and Craig is able to shake off the rust, he’ll immediately add some beneficial pop to a lineup that’s sorely missed him this post-season. While the series is in Boston, Craig can take the role of DH, giving the Cardinals a pretty exceptional 1-6:
Molina / Adams
Adams / Molina
When the series shifts back to St. Louis, the Cardinals will likely keep Adams at first but have Craig as a pinch-hitting threat, at least more so of a threat than Adron Chambers.
Boston, on the other hand, will have to make a tough choice. David Ortiz, who’s almost exclusively a designated hitter thanks to his poor defense, will have to play first when the Cardinals host them, likely forcing them to bench Mike Napoli, the team’s second-best slugger who also drove in the second-most runs on the team. It is possible they could have Napoli catch (he was Texas’ catcher in the 2011 World Series, when he destroyed Cardinals pitching to the tune of .350/.464/.700, two home runs, and ten RBI), but he hasn’t caught at all this season, and he’s rated as a worse catcher than Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who’s not exactly a slouch at the plate (.273/.338/.466). Either way, Boston will be losing one of their top offensive starters, while the Cardinals have shown that they can get by without one of theirs.
The Cardinals’ Rotation Matches up Well with Boston’s
Boston’s ace (when healthy) is Clay Buchholz, who had a phenomenal year this year but only appeared in 16 games. He went 12-1 with a 1.74 ERA, but he’s been anything but unhittable this post-season: in three games so far, he’s posted a 5.40 ERA to go with a 1.44 WHIP. If he gets the call to start Game 1, he’ll likely go against Adam Wainwright, whom I’d put up against anyone.
Beyond that, Boston’s rotation will likely consist of John Lackey, Jon Lester, and Jake Peavy. Lackey has had an excellent season this year, but he missed all of last year and put up a 6.41 ERA two seasons ago. Lester is a solid number two in their rotation, and the fact that he’s a lefty may work in his advantage this series, although Clayton Kershaw showed that’s not always the case. Peavy is no longer the workhorse he was in San Diego, but he’s certainly not awful.
If I were Matheny, going on pure numbers alone, I’d start Wainwright in Game 1, followed by Joe Kelly (who went 5-1 with a 2.07 ERA on the road), then Michael Wacha and Lance Lynn in Games 3 and 4. It’s certainly possible Matheny could switch Kelly and Wacha, as Wacha showed in Game 4 of the NLDS he’s more than capable of pitching in a hostile environment.
As far as Lance Lynn / Shelby Miller goes, Lynn was able to pitch effectively enough against the Dodgers to get the win in Game 3, and he also got the win in Game 1 by pitching two scoreless innings. Miller’s certainly capable of starting Game 4, but given the fact that Lance Lynn has actually appeared in more post-season games than any pitcher on the roster (yes, even more than Adam Wainwright), I have to think Matheny will give Lynn the nod.