BOSTON (CBS) – As good as the matchup was between the Red Sox and Tigers in the ALCS, this World Series could be just as good. The Red Sox and Cardinals – on paper – are two evenly matched teams.
The difference? It could simply be one player rising to the occasion. Go back and look at the recent MVP’s of the World Series and the names aren’t your top echelon guys: Pablo Sandoval (SF), David Freese (St. Louis), Edgar Renteria (SF), Hideki Matsui (NY), Cole Hamels(PHI), Mike Lowell (BOS), and David Eckstein (St. Louis).
When you break down these two teams there is plenty to love on both sides, so get ready for what could be a lengthy series.
Here’s a breakdown of each team:
Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly vs. Jon Lester, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz, Jake Peavy
We watched the Red Sox starters do more than enough in both the ALDS and ALCS, and they’ll have to keep up the same pace in this series. Lester got some extra rest after his Game 5 start last Thursday in Detroit, so that should help in Game 1. If Lester is 95-96 in the first inning Wednesday night that’s a great sign. But Wainwright is a gamer as well. He has great stuff and a very nasty curve ball. If the Sox can make him throw that pitch for strikes – that’s your key. Boston’s hitters have been way too anxious, swinging at too many off-speed pitches. But then again, they are a great bunch if mistake hitters, especially Ortiz, Napoli, Salty, and Victorino.
John Lackey was brilliant in Game 3 looking like the ace he was for the Angels, and will get the nod in Game 2 because of it. He’s had some extra rest as well, so watch out. He’ll have to be good, if not better, going up against NLCS MVP Michael Wacha. The 22-year-old righty is nasty. The Sox will approach him the way they did Verlander and Scherzer, and just try to drive up his pitch count and manufacture some runs.
Clay Buchholz had some nasty stuff in Game 6 Saturday, but was only able to get into the 6th inning because he threw 85 pitches (comparable to 100 or so in the regular season). It looks like the Sox will back him up with Felix Doubront rather than Franklin Morales should Clay get into any early trouble. Lance Lynn is a hot or cold guy – but could be real tough at home in Game 3.
Jake Peavy is the happiest man on earth these days, and not just because he’s in the World Series. He gets a chance to bounce back from a tough ALCS Game 4 outing in Detroit. I would expect him to calm down, not nitpick, and throw well. Joe Kelly had a great regular season and gets a chance to show off his stuff in Game 4.
Koji Uehara looks like he could pitch every day from now until Christmas and would have very little difficulty. He is on one of the greatest runs in closer history — Mariano Rivera-like. He will have to stay that course if the Sox are to win the World Series.
John Farrell has done a brilliant job getting to Uehara by maxing out Craig Breslow and Junichi Tazawa. It will be interesting how this plays out in Games 3, 4, and 5 with National League rules. Brandon Workman’s role may be bigger while Ryan Dempster could play an important role too.
Uehara-Tazawa-Breslow reminds me of Foulke-Timlin-Embree of 2004.
As for the Cards, Trevor Rosenthal has been lights out for St. Louis since taking the closer role from Edward Mujica late in the season. He throws gas, and is another studly young arm out of this Cardinals machine-like organization.
The Cardinals rely on Carlos Martinez, Randy Choate, Seth Maness, and Kevin Siegrest. They also have John Axford and Shelby Miller (who was 15-9 in the regular season).
Dan Roche Previews World Series On Toucher & Rich: