It took a Wild Card win over the Cincinnati Reds to place the Pittsburgh Pirates in the NLDS. It is the first time in decades that the Pirates have made it to the postseason and the city of Pittsburgh is still buzzing over the Wild Card victory. This team has turned into everyone’s favorite underdog and a potential World Series favorite.
The St. Louis Cardinals have been a fixture in the playoffs for for the better part of a decade. In fact, the Cardinals have made the playoffs in four of the past five seasons, won three NL Pennants since 2004 and have won two World Series titles since 2006. This team knows what it take to make it to the postseason and succeed — even without Albert Pujols.
Pittsburgh has a man by the name of Andrew McCutchen that could be the most underrated player in the game of baseball today. As an MVP candidate, the 26-year-old center fielder is hitting .317 with 21 home runs and 84 RBI. He is a rare five-tool player as he also has 27 steals and is great with the glove in the outfield. Another difference-maker will be Pedro Alvarez who has 36 homers and 100 RBI — his average could use some work, but he is productive.
On the other hand, you have the potent St. Louis offense that has four players with an average of .300 or higher this season. In fact, this team had the fourth-best regular season batting average with a .269 mark. Matt Holliday could be the X-factor on offense, batting .300 with 22 homers and 94 RBI on the season; he also has the experience and leadership skills needed to take this team to a World Series — again.
The upper hand in pitching has to go to the Cardinals, in my opinion. Adam Wainwright might be the best overall pitcher in this series with a 19-9 record and a 2.94 ERA. Shelby Miller is also the best rookie pitcher in the series as the Cardinals have the fifth-best ERA in baseball.
Game 1: Pirates at Cardinals, 5 p.m. EST, Thursday, Oct. 3, TBS
Game 2: Pirates at Cardinals, 1 p.m. EST, Friday, Oct. 4, MLB Network
Game 3: Cardinals at Pirates, TBD, Sunday, Oct. 6, TBS
Game 4*: Cardinals at Pirates, TBD, Monday, Oct. 7, TBS or MLB Network
Game 5*: Pirates at Cardinals, TBD, Wednesday, Oct. 9, TBS
PREDICTION: Cardinals beat Pirates in five, 3-2