By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — What a difference four years can make.
It practically feels like another 86 years have passed since the night of October 30, 2013, when the Red Sox beat the Cardinals 6-1 to win their third World Series championship since 2004 and the first to be won on Fenway soil since 1918. The Red Sox have since finished in last place twice before reclaiming the AL East crown in 2016.
Now, it’s time for a World Series rematch with the Cardinals – but one that will field two almost completely different teams.
Both the Red Sox and Cardinals, who kick off a quick two-game set in St. Louis on Tuesday night, will have starting lineups that look almost entirely different from the teams that started Game 6 of the 2013 World Series at Fenway Park. Of the starting Cardinals from that game, only catcher Yadier Molina and infielder Matt Carpenter remain; for the Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts are the only two starters remaining.
It’s worth noting that those 2013 Cardinals also had pitcher Joe Kelly, who is currently in the Red Sox bullpen, and first baseman Allen Craig, who has spent much of the last four years in the minor leagues. The Red Sox acquired Kelly and Craig for Game 6 winner John Lackey at the 2014 trade deadline.
As different as the lineups look, the difference is even more striking on the pitching staffs. The only two Red Sox pitchers remaining on the staff that pitched for them in 2013? Steven Wright, whose season is already over due to knee surgery, and Brandon Workman, who has spent most of the 2017 season so far with Triple-A Pawtucket. Other than that, the Red Sox pitching staff has undergone a complete makeover in the past four years.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, haven’t had a ton of turnover on the staff. They bring back Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez, Kevin Siegrist, and Trevor Rosenthal (the latter five all pitched in Game 6 of the ’13 World Series).
On offense, the Red Sox’ turnover is a testament to how well they’ve drafted and developed players in recent years. Bogaerts flashed his talent in 2013, but Jackie Bradley Jr. had barely cracked the major leagues. Mookie Betts had yet to debut. Andrew Benintendi had yet to be drafted.
On the pitching side, the changes are more the product of an aggressive front office helmed by Ben Cherington and then Dave Dombrowski. The top-four pitchers in the current rotation were all acquired via trade, one of which (Rick Porcello) Dombrowski shipped to Boston for Yoenis Cespedes while he was still Tigers GM.
The Red Sox may technically be entering a World Series rematch with the Cardinals, but only a few of them could even speak to the thrills of closing out the World Series on the Fenway field. In reality, the two-game set is closer to the start of a whole new chapter.
Matt Dolloff is a writer/producer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.