4 Reasons the Cardinals Won't Blow NLCS Series Lead Like 2012

Robert Knapel@@RobertKnapel_BRCorrespondent IOctober 17, 2013

4 Reasons the Cardinals Won't Blow NLCS Series Lead Like 2012

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    Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

    During the 2012 NLCS, the St. Louis Cardinals entered Game 5 with a 3-1 series lead against the San Francisco Giants and proceeded to lose the next three straight to miss the World Series.

    This season, the Cardinals once again faced a similar scenario, entering Game 5 of the 2013 NLCS against a National League West opponent with a 3-1 series lead. The Los Angeles Dodgers picked up the win in Game 5 to keep their World Series dreams alive.

    While the Cardinals let things slip away last postseason, that certainly will not be the case this year.

Starting Pitching

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    With two games remaining in the NLCS, the St. Louis Cardinals have their two best pitchers scheduled to take the mound. Michael Wacha will take the hill in Game 6, and the Cardinals have Adam Wainwright ready to go should the series go to seven games.

    Wacha has been dominant this postseason, going 2-0, allowing just six hits and striking out 17 while posting a 0.64 ERA in 14 innings. He will not have an easy matchup against Clayton Kershaw in Game 6, but Wacha has the ability to match—or even out-pitch—the Dodgers ace.

    If the series goes to seven games, the Cardinals will have their ace on the mound. Wainwright was a dominant 19-9 during the regular season and has already picked up two wins in three starts this postseason. His killer curveball could be the difference between the Cardinals moving on or heading home.


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    Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

    Despite some struggles from the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen in Game 5 of the NLCS, the relievers have been pitching well for the duration of the postseason.

    Entering Game 5, the Cardinals bullpen had been called upon eight times to help finish out games. In those appearances, it held opponents to a .190 batting average and five runs over 25 innings.

    With two strong starters and a strong bullpen, the Cardinals have a good chance of keeping the Dodgers' run totals low, thus keeping themselves in every game.

Carlos Beltran

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    Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

    While he has had some struggles so far in the 2013 NLCS, Carlos Beltran is the type of player that turns things up to another level in the postseason. In 43 career playoff games, he has hit .327 with 16 home runs and 34 RBI.

    Beltran has already slugged two home runs this postseason, and his RBI triple in Game 5 may have been a sign that he is going to get hot at the plate again. If that is the case, the Los Angeles Dodgers pitching staff could be in for a long game.

Playoff Experience

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

    Postseason experience should not be discounted when considering a team's chances at making a run to the World Series title. The St. Louis Cardinals have had success in recent years, and that should help them as they play the remainder of the NLCS.

    In 2011, they showed that they could fight back when they had their backs against the wall by beating the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLDS and then by staging an incredible comeback against the Texas Rangers in the World Series that was led by David Freese.

    Although the Cardinals faced adversity in losing the NLCS after having a 3-1 series lead, that experience should make them stronger this year as they do not want to experience a similar failure.