The Brewers were one of the best home teams all season long. With a little help from the St. Louis Cardinals, they now have the luxury of holding home field advantage for the rest of their season. With Zach Greinke proving to be damn near unbeatable at home, he has the chance to give his Brewers a game in hand right out of the gate.
Even though this entire Brewers organization is new to the whole playoff thing, they may be the most complete team left in the post-season. The rotation of Greinke, Shaun Marcum, Yovanni Gallardo, and Randy Wolf is the deepest rotation playing. Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford, despite a bumpy game five, are capable of coming into close games and shutting down their opponents. Outside of their pitching, their offense can carry their own weight.
Is this Prince Fielder’s last series as a Milwaukee Brewer? If so, does he view this as his last chance to win with this team, or his last chance to impact his impending contract? Either way, it bodes well for the Brew Crew, who will send Fielder, Ryan Braun, and team hero Nyjer Morgan. The difference this series may rest on the bat of Rickie Weeks, who was non-existent in their series against the Diamondbacks.
This offense is potent regardless of Weeks’ production, but this is not an ordinary series. This is a seven game series, against your division rival, with a trip to the World Series on the line. They need as many bats and runs as possible. Nothing can be taken for granted. The Cardinals just took out the heavily favored Phillies. There is nothing more dangerous than a team playing with house money. Both of these teams are riding emotional highs after the way they won their respective game fives. Neither believe they are going to lose.
After Chris Carpenter out dueled former Jays teammate Roy Halladay with a complete game, three hit shutout, Albert Pujols’ Cardinals career lives on another series. Jaime Garcia gets the series started off for the Cardinals, and one of the most underrated pitchers in the league is in perfect position to steal game one on the road. Carpenter likely will not pitch until the first home game, at the earliest. If the Cards can split the first two games on the road, they will completely strip the Brewers of home field advantage.
But the Cardinals pitching is what we thought they are. It’s their offense which is going to have to carry them to their first World Series appearance in five years. Luckily for the Cardinals, they have the best offensive player in the league on their side. But Pujols is not going to be able to do it alone. They’re going to need Lance Berkman and a healthy Matt Holliday playing every day and contributing on a nightly basis in order to take this series.
Much like last round, I cannot justify picking the Cardinals. While they have Pujols steadily in their lineup, Holliday is banged up. While Carpenter is in his zone, he cannot pitch nightly, and there are potentially five games in which he will have minimal impact on the outcome. The role players in Milwaukee seem to be better than their counterparts in St. Louis (even though they have come up clutch for both sides). At the end of the day, with as much faith as I have in Garcia, Yadier Molina, David Freese, and Jason Motte, I still believe this team is an Adam Wainwright away from a title. While I have been beating that drum since February, the logic in my kind tells me a steady three man rotation is stronger than the two top arms in St. Louis. It tells me that Prince and Braun are playing better than Pujols and Holliday. It tells me that Axford and Rodriguez are better than anyone St. Louis can wheel out of the bullpen. It’s what had me pick the Phillies last round. Maybe there’s some intangible in St. Louis that wont come to fruition until their commemorative World Series DVD’s are being pressed and sold in bundle packages with t-shirts and hats. Maybe this team is rallying behind the prospect of potentially losing Tony LaRussa and Pujols.
Or maybe my logic is correcting in thinking that the Brewers will be representing the NL in the World Series after taking the series in seven games. Only the next week or so will tell. After splitting the regular season series 9-9, it seems fitting that the tie is broken. First to 13 wins the pennant.
Prediction: Brewers in 7