2013 MLB World Series Preview

The 2013 MLB postseason has been nothing short of captivating. The playoffs have been characterized by walk-off hits, unlikely superstars, and late game heroics, allowing teams on the cusp of defeat to rise to victory. Two teams that have exemplified these qualities better than others are the two teams matching up in the World Series: the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals. Built around different identities, the Red Sox and Cardinals have both clawed their way to clutch victories, sensational pitching performances and scoring runs when they mattered the most. The World Series, set to begin tonight at 8:07 PM on Fox, puts forward two of the most respected franchises in baseball history. The Red Sox, having won their last championship in 2007, and the Cardinals, raising their last banner in 2011, will both look to reclaim their winning ways and add another ring to their historical collections. The two teams have strengths in different areas, but the matchup should be outstanding nevertheless.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Kansas City Royals
Carlos Beltran has continued his hot postseason hitting (Photo Courtesy of San Francisco Examiner)

Starting Pitching

The Red Sox had been mired in a nightmare before this season began. Since their epic collapse in 2011, when they blew a nine game lead with 24 games to go and had a starter’s ERA of 7.08 in September, the Red Sox drastically reshaped their roster in 2012. For all the changes, however, they left their starters relatively intact. The starters rewarded their patience in 2013 as Jon Lester returned to elite form, John Lackey, the target of apprehension from Red Sox Nation since his signing, put forward one of the best years of his career, and oft-injured starter Clay Buchholz finished with a 12-1 record and a 1.74 ERA. The Red Sox traded for Jake Peavy at the trade deadline and will move forward with this rotation in the World Series.

Cardinals young stud and NLCS MVP Michael Wacha will start Game 2 of the World Series at Fenway Park (Photo Courtesy of CBS Sports)
Cardinals’ young stud and NLCS MVP Michael Wacha will start Game 2 of the World Series at Fenway Park (Photo Courtesy of CBS Sports)

The Cardinals, on the other hand, avoided the expensive signings route of the Red Sox and instead, used their farm system to develop young arms that have exploded onto the scene. Since his dominant performance in the 2006 playoffs, Adam Wainwright has emerged as the ace of the Cardinals staff and one of the best pitchers in baseball. Behind him, the Cardinals have a young and inexperienced staff, but one that is supremely talented and has been downright incredible in the playoffs.

Michael Wacha, a first round pick by the Cardinals in 2012, was up and down in the regular season, but built upon his strong finish in the regular season and has shined in his playoffs debut. Wacha has been the best pitcher of the postseason thus far, allowing only one run in 22 innings and outdueling arguably the best pitcher in baseball, Clayton Kershaw, twice in the NLCS, where Wacha did not allow a run over 13 2/3 innings and earned MVP honors. Behind him, the Cardinals will use Joe Kelly, another young gun who had an outstanding regular season, and Lance Lynn, a pitcher who was mediocre this season but was exceptional at home, where he would be slated to start game 4.

While the Red Sox have the more experienced staff, the Cardinals’ pitchers are more talented. It will be intriguing to watch the Cardinals staff face an offense as dominant as the Red Sox’s, as they have not faced an offense as good as Boston’s yet. Wainwright and Wacha have the talent to neutralize Boston’s hitters, but whether they will will go a long way towards determining the winner of this series. The Red Sox, meanwhile, will have to hope that their rotation performs better than it did in the ALCS, where it mixed lights out performances and 1-0 victories with shaky outings and early exits. However, at this stage, talent trumps experience and the Cardinals hold a slim advantage.

Advantage: Cardinals


David Ortiz’s grand slam in Game 2 of the ALCS (Photo Courtesy of WBUR)

The Red Sox come into the World Series with an offense that dominated the rest of baseball. The Red Sox were the only team with over 800 runs in the regular season, plating 853, and led the MLB in doubles, total bases, RBIs, OBP, slugging and OPS. To put it simply, the Red Sox were the best hitting team in baseball this year. Anchored by David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli, the Red Sox biggest key to success at the plate this year was health. The Red Sox experienced timely hitting, as Ortiz and Victorino both hit game-changing, late-inning grand slams in the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers. The Red Sox have experienced veterans, who have been a part of World Series teams before and have proven that they can handle pressure environments. The Sox have a propensity to wait for pitches and drive deep counts against opposing pitchers before drilling pitches: look for them to attempt to drive the pitch count of Wainwright and Wacha up, while attacking Kelly and Lynn.

The Cardinals offense is no pushover, however. It led the NL in runs and finished second in average. Behind the bats of Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday, the Cardinals put forward a potent lineup as well. The impending return of Allen Craig from a Lisfranc injury, the best hitter with runners in scoring position in baseball the last two years, will only help their cause, while strengthening their bench for games at Busch Stadium. If the Cardinals can get production from their other bats, such as Yadier Molina and 2011 playoff hero David Freese, they can take advantage of the weaker Boston rotation and manufacture runs. The key for the Cardinals in this series will be to string together base hits instead of going for the long ball, as they were one of the worst homerun hitting teams in baseball this year.

Advantage: Red Sox


In order to describe the season that Koji Uehara put forward for the Red Sox this year, only

Red Sox closer Koji Uehara, in the midst of one of the greatest pitching campaigns ever (Photo Courtesy of NBC Sports)
Red Sox closer Koji Uehara, in the midst of one of the greatest pitching campaigns ever (Photo Courtesy of NBC Sports)

history can do it justice. Koji Uehara, the Sox closer, put forward one of the greatest seasons by a reliever ever, capped off by a 33 2/3 inning stretch this season where he struck out 46 batters and allowed zero runs. He has been unhittable this entire year and was named the MVP of the ALCS. His significance to the bullpen cannot be understated, as his continual dominance has rendered games against the Red Sox 8 inning affairs. The Red Sox bullpen as a whole confounded the Tigers lineup throughout the ALCS, allowing just one run in 21 innings. Behind Uehara, the Red Sox bullpen is deep enough to play matchups but also talented enough to secure necessary outs on their own accord. The set-up man in this series will be Junichi Tazawa with Craig Breslow serving as the lefty specialist when Matt Carpenter or Jon Jay step to the plate in the late innings. The Cardinals four best hitters are all right handers or switch hitters, however, rendering Breslow’s effectiveness lower than it was in the ALCS with the presence of Prince Fielder.

The Cardinals bullpen, before the season, suffered a major blow when flamethrowing closer Jason Motte underwent Tommy John surgery and was declared out for season. In typical Cardinals fashion, St. Louis found studs in the minor leagues who carved out significant roles in late, high-leverage situations. The Cardinals bullpen is anchored by former starters Trevor Rosenthal, now the closer, and Carlos Martinez, now the set-up man. Rosenthal throws a sizzling fastball between 98-100 MPH and can mix in a changeup and curveball to keep hitters off balance. He has not allowed a run in 7 innings this postseason. Martinez has struck out 6 in 6 2/3 innings and will be an integral part of the World Series as the bridge between the starters and closer against a powerful lineup. The most significant matchup in the World Series will perhaps be between Randy Choate, the lefty specialist, and David Ortiz, the Red Sox best hitter. Ortiz is 3 for 9 against him in his career but Choate has held lefties to a .176 average this season.

Advantage: Cardinals


These are two of the best teams in baseball and eliminated stiff competition in their respective League Championship Series to appear in the Fall Classic. The Red Sox, boasting veteran experience and a mighty lineup, will look to score early and often while the Cardinals will have to utilize their young talent and pesky lineup to neutralize the Boston offense and manufacture runs. St. Louis will have to have their young studs continue their rise to stardom while Boston will need their starters to show up on the big stage. The managers, John Farrell of Boston and Mike Matheny of St. Louis, will have to use their bullpen properly, make adjustments and take risks in order to guide their team to a championship. While the Red Sox are the favorites in this series, the 1-2 punch of Wainwright and Wacha can do damage, especially as a combination that the Red Sox hitters have not seen all season. This series promises to be special, with exciting plays, high leverage situations and two teams that have proven they are among baseball’s elite. The Cardinals pitchers, both starters and late inning relievers, and the presence of postseason superstar Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday will push the Cardinals to their second championship in three seasons in 6 games.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.