In both the National League Division Series and the National League Championship Series, the St. Louis Cardinals have appeared to go up against a rotation that was stronger than their starting staff, at least on paper. This was especially true in the NLCS, when they had to match up against the likes of Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke.
After doubting them in the first two rounds of the postseason, though, it’s probably time to acknowledge that the Cardinals will head into the World Series against the Boston Red Sox with an advantage as far as their starting staff is concerned. Not that this is unfamiliar to those in Boston, who just fought off the likes of Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer to reach this point.
Nonetheless, the success of the Cardinals’ rotation in these playoffs has certainly been a source of surprise in this year’s postseason. We already knew that Adam Wainwright was among the best pitchers in the bigs, and he has certainly pitched like it throughout the playoffs for St. Louis. But their success goes far beyond the Cy Young candidate.
The two most notable names here are Joe Kelly and Michael Wacha. Kelly has been very solid after latching onto a starting spot in the second half of the season, faring very well against much more notable names like Francisco Liriano and Zack Greinke as the postseason has wore on.
The really notable name here is Michael Wacha. The NLCS MVP was outstanding in his final start of the regular season and has seen that success carry over in the postseason in a very big way. He nearly no hit Pittsburgh in the NLDS before coming up with a pair of huge starts in the NLCS. He’s a budding star in this rotation.
The Red Sox have a solid mix of veteran players in their rotation, and it’s a deep group. But with the way we’ve seen these Cardinals come out and pitch so far in the playoffs, they have to be looked at as the team with the clear rotation advantage heading into the 2013 World Series, at least until they prove otherwise.