Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Mets in 6

by Jeremy Bird

You can win a best of 5 series with one CY Young pitcher who comes up big in the postseason. You might even be able to win a best-of-seven with that same CY Young winner pitching games 1, 4 and 7.

In both scenarios all you need is one other starting pitcher to step up as Jeff Weaver did in the Cardinals' NLDS series against San Diego.

Unfortunately, for Red Bird nation, Chris Carpenter threw 104 pitches on Sunday and won't be able to throw three games against the Mets. He's slated to start games 3 and 7 (which won't be necessary in this one). Now, the club needs two starters who aren't named Carpenter to win games. Jeff Weaver, Jeff Suppan, Jason Marquis or Anthony Reyes...Ouch.

With the Jeffs starting in games 1 and 2, the St. Louis Cardinals are in some serious trouble at Shea.

The Cards were able to beat the Padres with Carp and his not-so-stellar supporting cast, but the Mets are a whole new ballgame. Jose Reyes, Carlos Delgado, David Wright, and Carlos Beltran are the cornerstones of a Mets' lineup that makes the Padres lineup look like a cakewalk. Weaver and Suppan are going to have to come up big of the Cards have any hopes of making it past game 5.

Sure, the Cardinals will score runs against the Mets, even with Rolen out (yet again in the playoffs when it counts). I imagine the Mets will pitch around Pujols as much as they can, but the Birds will score on Maine, Traschel and Perez for sure. The question is can they score enough to overcome their own pitching woes?

The Cardinals lost the season series to the Mets 4-2. They will lose in the postseason in similar fashion.

Perhaps the two team's August 22 game serves as the best example of how this series will play out. In that game, Pujols hit two homers (one a grand slam) and had 7 RBIs...And the Mets won 8-7 on a Beltran walk-off in the ninth. Weaver started that game, giving up four earned runs in five innings. Maine gave up seven in five innings pitched, but the Cardinals bullpen blew the lead late.

That August 22 thriller tells a tale for how this series should go. Both teams will score plenty of runs, but with the combo of the Mets high-powered offense and the Cardinals thin starting pitching, I'll be surprised if the Cards even push this one to 7.

The only hope we have is a few rain outs that will allow Carpenter to throw three games. Otherwise, the Mets will are back in the Series to suffer defeat at the hands of the Tigers, who have a starting rotation capable of beating both New Yorks.

Jeremy's column, "Bird's Eye View", appears alternate Tuesdays

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