Wednesday, September 22, 2004

You knew this was coming

Well, we've been hearing it since the pre-season. "The Cardinals don't have enough starting pitching to win." In fact, during the pre-season, I specifically remember John Kruk saying the Cardinals had "Morris, Williams, and pray for rain" as a rotation.

Of course, the Cardinals have been vindicated in the regular season....sort of. The experts still insist that the Cardinals don't have the ace they need to win in the playoffs. And of course, you know the trendy prediction coming up for the playoffs is going to be to see the Cardinals lose, and the Cubs (if they make it) winning it all. That will be the sexy pick. And let the games begin.

This morning I stumbled across an article on written by Steve Wilstein which can be found here. In this article, Steve points out that "In a five-game series, teams need an ace who can win games No. 1 and 5, and somebody else who can carry them to another victory." I guess he missed the 2002 NLDS, where the Cardinals swept the defending World Champions despite having to face both Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling on the road.

He also claims that "In a seven-game series, they need at least two aces who can give them a shot at winning four games by themselves." The Marlins had a hot Josh Beckett last year, and that would be nice. But was Brad Penny an ace last year and I just missed it? He was 2-0 with a 2.19 ERA in the World Series despite just going 14-10 with a 4.13 ERA in the regular season.

The 2002 Anaheim Angels are another example of a team that won it all despite not having the "needed" two dominate starters. Jarrod Washburn was great in the regular season, going 18-6 with a 3.15 ERA. Of course, in the World Series he went 0-2 with a 9.31 ERA - and his team still won it all.

Another point he raises is "In both series, they need bullpens that will choke off rallies and protect slim leads." As I pointed out in another article, the Cardinals bullpen has the lowest OPS allowed in the NL. The threat of not having Kline hurts, but doesn't end the dominant nature of this year's Cardinal bullpen.

Would I like to have a Randy Johnson availible to start 3 games in a best of 7? Well, duh! Who wouldn't? Is it a must? Of course not! When you have the best offense in the league, the best defense in the league, the best bullpen in the league, and an above average rotation? You're going to win games. Even if the experts don't agree, because we all know - "pitching wins championships." Even if it doesn't always hold true.


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