Despite a brilliant performance by Francisco Liriano to get the Pittsburgh Pirates into the real MLB playoffs, it will be the St. Louis Cardinals who have the better starting rotation when the two NL Central rivals meet in the 2013 NLDS. No one cultivates young pitching quite like the Cardinals, and that will be on display in their series against the Pirates, giving them the stronger starting staff.
Of course, the Cardinals’ rotation starts with Adam Wainwright. No pitcher on either roster has the postseason resume that Wainwright has as he is truly one of the elite pitchers in the game, and is coming off a season in which he won 19 games and had an ERA under 3. There’s no one the Pirates can put on the mound that can matchup against Wainwright, not even Liriano.
Behind Wainwright, the Cardinals have four young power pitchers that Mike Matheny could put on the mound in a playoff series with complete confidence that they could out-duel whatever pitcher the Pirates counter with. The depth that St. Louis has in their rotation is something that the Pirates can’t match, and it’s what gives the Cardinals the better rotation in the NLDS.
Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller, and Michael Wacha are all high-strikeout power pitchers, which is generally what wins in the postseason, something that the Cardinals have proven time and time again.
Moreover, the Cardinals develop pitchers in their farm system preparing them for postseason play. They expect their young pitchers to be pitching in big spots early in their careers, and there’s little doubt the St. Louis youngsters will be ready for the moment, while there is less certainly of that with regards to Pittsburgh’s young starters.
The Pirates will be able to counter with some great young pitchers of their own, especially Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton, who will join Liriano and veteran A.J. Burnett as the likely starters in the NLDS. However, Pittsburgh can’t match up with Wainwright, and their contingent of young power arms isn’t as deep as what the Cardinals have in their arsenal, which is why St. Louis has the better rotation in the 2013 NLDS.