ESPN's Buster Olney writes about 10 pivotal matchups to look for when the 2013 World Series between the Red Sox and Cardinals begins Wednesday night. Here's one of them:
1. Red Sox hitters vs. the Cardinals bullpen
Let’s get right to it: Boston is in the World Series because of the damage done to Detroit's bullpen. Eleven of Boston’s 19 runs were plated with a reliever on the mound, including both the grand slams hit by David Ortiz and Shane Victorino.
But while bullpen depth was an Achilles’ heel for Detroit, the Cardinals are a completely different challenge, with a wave of relievers, each seemingly throwing harder than the last. The average fastball velocity for some of the St. Louis relievers (per FanGraphs):
Carlos Martinez 97.6 mph
John Axford 95.3 mph
Kevin Siegrist 95 mph
Seth Maness 90.4 mph
Trevor Rosenthal 96.4 mph
So far in the postseason, the Cardinals bullpen has allowed only six earned runs in 19 innings, with 23 strikeouts.
The St. Louis staff hasn’t dealt with a lineup quite like Boston’s, either, with almost all of the hitters running deep counts, and running up pitch counts. Michael Wacha is having unprecedented success, and he hasn’t really been pushed, requiring 96, 112 and 95 pitches in his first three postseason starts, respectively.
Adam Wainwright is a lot like Max Scherzer, in that he doesn’t often go beyond 115 pitches (just five times during the regular season). Joe Kelly didn’t throw more than 109 pitches in any of his regular-season starts, and in the postseason, he has thrown 85, 95 and 82 pitches, which is three to five innings in a typical Red Sox game. Lance Lynn threw 83 pitches in each of his first two postseason starts.
So there are probably going to be a lot of outs left on the table for the St. Louis bullpen, and what happens with those will determine the outcome of this series, as it did in the ALCS.
To read the entire Insider piece, click HERE.
Meanwhile, Tim Kurkjian writes about this World Series as a rematch of the 2004 Red Sox-Cardinals series, but with some tweaks. Instead of a Boston team dubbed "The Idiots," we have a bunch of "big, burly guys with complicated beards who hit grand slams at the most opportune times," he writes.
He says there are five big questions to consider. The first: "What are we to make of Michael Wacha?"
To read his piece, click HERE.