One of the most historic rivalries in all of baseball takes place in the NLDS after the Chicago Cubs beat Pittsburgh 4 to 0 in the NL Wildcard Game on Wednesday. The Cubs now battle the rival St. Louis Cardinals for the right to advance to the NLCS.
The Cubs looked great when beating Pittsburgh 4 to 0 on the road. Because Jake Arrieta pitched a complete game versus the Pirates, baseball fans likely won’t see him before the third game in the NLDS. Do the Cubs have enough good pitching to keep the Cardinals from rushing out to an unbeatable NLDS series lead?
Why the Cubs Will Win the NLDS vs the Cardinals
Maddon can manage the pitching staff to a series victory.
Everybody knows how good Jake Arrieta is. He’s likely to be the National League Cy Young Award winner. In a 7-game series, Arreita figures to pitch 2 to 3 games. But, in a 5 game series like the NLDS, Arrieta might only pitch one game.
Maddon didn’t go into his bullpen versus the Pirates. This was because he knew he’d have to use them in at least the first 2 games against the Cardinals. If Lester and the pitcher in Game 2 aren’t on top of their games, Maddon’s going to have to take them out of the game earlier than he’d like.
Lester, the Game 1 starter, has been good versus the Cardinals. He’s only allowed 56 hits, 7 home runs, from 186 at-bats. The Cards bat .269 against him. Maddon won’t need Lester to be at his best in the series, though. Maddon’s entire game plan is to get 5 good innings from Lester and whoever he starts in Game 2 before unleashing Arrieta in Game 3. If he can keep his bullpen fresh, he’ll be able to manage the pitching staff through the series by winning one of the first 2 games and then winning one of the final 2 games while Arrieta shuts down the St. Louis in Game 3.
Why the Cardinals Will Win the NLDS vs the Cubs
The Cardinals’ experience will give them the series.
The Cardinals are one of the most experienced post-season teams in baseball. As a franchise, the Cardinals have played in 19 World Series. They’ve won 11 of them including one in 2011. Since 1900, the Cardinals’ franchise has won 18 pennants. St. Louis is used to winning championships with the Cardinals.
This specific Cardinals team has playoff experience. John Lackey’s NLDS ERA is 1.29. Overall, Lackey is 7 and 5 in the post-season. Many of the Cardinals’ batters made it to the World Series in 2013. They won the World Series in 2011.
The one difference between the Cardinals and the Cubs in this series, though, might have to do with the Cards’ pitching. Usually, Adam Wainwright plays the Jake Arrieta role. He’s pitching out of the bullpen. The Cardinals do not seem to have an Arrieta type pitcher in their rotation.
There’s a chance that someone, Lackey on Friday or maybe Lance Lynn, will emerge as that Arrieta guy. But, what’s more likely to happen is that Maddon will manage his pitching staff, by utilizing Arrieta to shut down the Cardinals in Game 3, to win this series. My final series prediction is Chicago Cubs 3, St Louis 2.