The National League Champion St. Louis Cardinals head to Fenway Park to take on the American League Champion Boston Red Sox. These two teams have a lot of similarities, but took very different paths to get here. On the one hand, you have the two best teams in the major leagues facing off with identical records at 97-65, something that hasn’t been done since 1999. Two teams that have had a lot of success and are very respected programs. Two teams that have both had recent success with two championships each since 2004. Both teams have great hitters, quality starting pitching, and a good bullpen. Both teams have veterans with playoff experience (David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Allen Craig, David Freese) and rookie sensations looking to make an impact (Xander Boegarts, Michael Wacha).
The main difference between the two teams is the last three years. St. Louis won the World Series in 2011, and came within a game from returning there last year. The Red Sox failed to make the playoffs in 2011, and had a disastrous season last year, missing the playoffs for the third straight time. So while the Cardinals have been the kings of the National League in recent years, the Red Sox shocked everybody this season with a worst to first, 28 win turnaround under first year manager John Farrell. Nobody expected the Red Sox to win the World Series in 2004, and they did at the expense of the mighty Cardinals. Nobody expected the Red Sox to be in the World Series this year, and once again they face St. Louis for all the marbles.
The Red Sox have home field advantage, which is the first key factor. The Cardinals outfielders will have to deal with the likes of the Green Monster and the triangle, which they are not familiar with. The Cardinals have a better offense than the Tigers, but the Red Sox also have a better offense than the Dodgers, so I expect to see a few more runs scored compared to the LCS’s. However, the Red Sox pitching will be the best the Cardinals have faced this postseason, while the Cardinals pitching could arguably be the easiest they have faced this postseason. Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha have been lights out, but after going through the likes of David Price, Matt Moore, Max Scherzer, and Justin Verlander, the task doesn’t seem quite as daunting. I expect the rookie to come back to earth at some point, and pitching at Fenway Park in the World Series might do just that.
Meanwhile, instead of an injured Miguel Cabrera and an ice-cold Prince Fielder, the Red Sox will have to deal with Carlos Beltran, Yadier Molina, David Freese, and others. An interesting storyline will be the return of Allen Craig, out since early September with a foot injury. He drove in 97 runs during the regular season and batted over .450 with runners in scoring position. He is expected to be used at DH in Boston and a pinch hitter off the bench in St. Louis. Another interesting move will be the use of David Ortiz in St. Louis. He has been known play to first base in National League ballparks, but that would mean the benching of Mike Napoli, who really started to heat up in the later games of the ALCS.
This will be the fourth matchup between the Red Sox and Cardinals in the World Series (St. Louis 1946, St. Louis 1967, Boston 2004).
Expected Pitching Matchups
Game 1: Jon Lester vs. Adam Wainwright
Game 2: Clay Buccholz vs. Michael Wacha
Game 3: John Lackey vs. Joe Kelly
Game 4: Jake Peavy vs. Lance Lynn
St. Louis X Factor: Allen Craig
Boston X Factor: Koji Uehara
World Series MVP: Jon Lester
Prediction: Red Sox in five
Let me know who you think will win the World Series in the poll down below.
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