#1 St. Louis Cardinals vs #1 Boston Red Sox
All games on Fox
Game 1: Stl @ Bos; Wednesday, October 23rd, 7:30 PM EST
Game 2: Stl @ Bos; Thursday, October 24th, 7:30 PM EST
Game 3: Bos @ Stl; Saturday, October 26th, 7:30 PM EST
Game 4: Bos @ Stl; Sunday, October 27th, 8:00 PM EST
(If Necessary) Game 5: Bos @ Stl; Monday, October 28th, 7:30 PM EST
(If Necessary) Game 6: Stl @ Bos; Wednesday, October 30th, 7:30 PM EST
(If Necessary) Game 7: Stl @ Bos; Thursday, October 31st, 7:30 PM EST
St. Louis Cardinals (by Seth Guttman):
Team Breakdown: For the fourth time since 2004 the St. Louis Cardinals are National League Champions. They return to the Fall Classic after a 4-2 series victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Both the starting and relief pitching in the NLCS was phenomenal. Now the Cardinals move on to take on a Red Sox team who got timely hits after timely hits off of the Tigers weak bullpen. Luckily for the Cardinals their bullpen is much more reliable than what Detroit was throwing out there. Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha will look to continue the trend of shutting down Red Sox hitters early in the game.
A lot of the time when an NL team reaches the World Series they don’t have a great hitter to put at the DH. Luckily for the Cardinals, after missing the first two rounds of the playoffs, all-star first basemen Allen Craig returns to action as the DH, in attempt to bring another spark to this Cardinals offense. He led all of baseball during the regular season with a .454 batting average with runners in scoring position.
Cardinals’ manager Mike Matheny made a bold move in game 6 of the NLCS and benched his everyday centerfielder in Jon Jay for Shane Robinson. Jay had struggled at the plate in the NLCS and made some very costly mistakes in the outfield. The move worked out as Robinson went 2 for 4 with 2 RBIs in the Cardinals’ thumping of the Dodgers in game 6. Now it is yet to be seen whether Matheny will stick with Robinson in centerfield or give Jon Jay another chance.
Trevor Rosenthal and Carlos Martinez are in their early 20s and dominating veteran hitters with their blazing 100 MPH fastball. Michael Wacha, also in his early 20s, has been the story of the postseason so far. He hasn’t given up more than 5 hits or 1 run in any of his three postseason starts. Along with veteran ace Adam Wainwright, they will be another tough test for this Red Sox lineup.
This St. Louis team does not have many glaring weaknesses but the bench is not very strong. This could be a problem if the Cardinals need a clutch hit off the bench late in a game. Yadier Molina should be able to limit Boston’s strong running game with his quick release, great ability to block balls in the dirt, and his snap throws behind the runners.
Winning Strategy: If the Cardinals want to win it all they must get to the Red Sox starting pitching. If they can’t score enough runs off of the starters, the Red Sox lights out bullpen will be an almost impossible task to beat. Do what the Tigers starting pitching did and keep the Boston hitters silent for the first 7 innings. The Cardinals’ bullpen is better prepared to close out a game than the Detroit bullpen was. Don’t let David Ortiz beat you; if there is an open base don’t be afraid to walk him. Whatever strategy the Cardinals’ lineup was using vs Clayton Kershaw should be used for every single game. Make the city of Boston know why four of the top five hitters with runners in scoring position reside in St. Louis.
Key Player: Carlos Beltran may already be the greatest postseason hitter in MLB history and he hasn’t even played a World Series game yet. After a historical postseason in 2004 with the Astros, and two solid postseasons with the Mets and Cardinals; Beltran has stolen the show once again in his fourth postseason. He drove in all three runs in game 1 of the NLCS including the walk off double in the 13th inning and had an outfield assist to keep the game tied up at 2. In game 6 of the NLCS he went 3 for 4 with 2 RBIs and helped lead the Cardinals to the World Series once again. Beltran is the heart and soul of this offense, and seems to come up big whenever he’s needed the most. If the Cardinals are to win their 12th World Series title, “Mr. October” will need another fantastic series to remember.
Boston Red Sox (By Chris Marcotrigiano):
Team Breakdown: The Boston Red Sox have seemed like a team on a mission since day 1 of this 2013 MLB season. Their offseason acquisitions as well as their home grown talent have paid dividends for the organization in a big way with clutch pitching and hitting performances that have led the club to their third World Series appearance of the new millennium. As we saw from the ALCS, Boston's starting pitching can hang with just about any staff in the league, as they out dueled the Tigers' consisting of Justin Verlaner and Max Scherzer, the presumptive AL Cy Young winner. Jon Lester has been a rock all season and Clay Buchholz has returned strong from an injury that forced him out of a large portion of the season. Jake Peavy has also wowed observers as he has done more than enough to keep the Red Sox in games, which is really all you need in the postseason. The bullpen, anchored by the phenomenal closer Koji Uehara, should be able to close out games in which Boston has a lead going into the seventh or eighth inning. To couple with their stellar rotation, the Red Sox offense has any one of a number of ways to beat you. They have speed at the top of their lineup in the form of Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino, both of whom have been adept at getting on base and keeping opposing defenses nervous. They also have power and average hitters ( Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Mike Napoli) in the middle of their lineup, all of whom helped Boston score the most runs in baseball this season.
Winning Strategy: If the Red Sox are going to win this series, they will have to remember three words: keep it up. Their formula for winning has largely held true thus far in the postseason. If they can jump on St. Louis pitching early in Fenway Park, I have faith that their pitching will be able to hold the lead given to them and hand the ball over to Uehara to finish the job. If they can win games 1 and 2 at home, the pressure on St. Louis may become insurmountable. Watch for the Red Sox to start fast by moving runners in the early innings to jump start their offenses and grab momentum.
Key Player: For the Red Sox, their key player will be the aforementioned Mike Napoli. The first baseman could have easily been selected as ALCS MVP after he propelled the offense in the last few games of the series against tough Tigers pitching. If he can be as clutch as he was in the opening rounds, this Red Sox offense becomes very tough to beat. With the experience of Pedroia and Ortiz, you know they will remain composed and get their hits. If Napoli is clicking also, the middle of that order becomes deadly.
First and Ten Staff Picks:
Seth Guttman: Cardinals in 6. “I think we have the most balanced World Series matchup since 2009. I don't think either team completely dominates this series and I'd be SHOCKED if one team swept the other. The Cardinals frontline starting pitching is right on par with the Tigers’ pitching that shut down the Red Sox hitters. The difference between the two pitching staffs is the Cardinals bullpen can get the job done. While the Red Sox bullpen has been fantastic, we’ll see if they can handle a deeper Cardinals lineup that gets a lot more timely hits than Tampa and Detroit could.”
Chris Marcotrigiano: Red Sox in 6. "Despite the poise St. Louis has shown, I think the Red Sox have too much momentum and better all around talent."
Harris Yudin: Cardinals in 7. "I doubted the young Cardinals pitchers' ability to perform in the playoffs, and they proved me wrong, so I think they will continue to dominate. They will have their hands full with the experienced, healthy Red Sox lineup, but the Cards have enough of their own offense, especially with Craig coming back, to counter it. Still, the Cards need to be careful not to let the Sox take a lead, as Uehara has been untouchable. I fully expect a great series between two well-rounded teams"
Anthony Tartamella: Red Sox in 7. "The offense is really good and the bullpen has really come together nicely this postseason."
Thanks for reading our 2013 World Series Preview! If you liked this article or anything else we've written, please follow us on twitter at @First_TenSports. You may also enjoy listening to our radio show every Tuesday at 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM on Blogtalkradio. We always tweet out a link to listen, so you can get updates when we are going on air from our twitter handle. Enjoy the Fall Classic!