World Series Predictions: Players Who Will Crumble Under the Pressure
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Major League Baseball's Fall Classic has a way of bringing out the best in some players, but the worst in others. St. Louis Cardinals' starters Joe Kelly and Lance Lynn and Boston Red Sox's starter Jake Peavy and shortstop Stephen Drew, are four players who will collapse in this year's World Series. Each one of these players is making their first World Series appearance in their current roles.
Kelly hasn't been great in October. In three postseason starts, he is 0-1 with a 4.41 ERA. In those starts, he's pitched 16.1 innings, allowed 18 hits and eight earned runs.
Per espn.com, the Red Sox hit .277 as a team this year. They are first in the American League in on-base percentage, slugging percentage and on-base plus slugging percentage. That's a nasty combination for Kelly, who mainly pitches to contact.
Kelly figures to be either the Cardinals' third starter or long reliever. Making your World Series debut against the American League's best offense isn't a recipe for success.
Lynn was a member of the Cardinals' bullpen in their 2011 title year. But he's never started a World Series game. Lynn's .304 opponents' batting average in two postseason starts is a nightmare. He walks his fair share of batters—seven in 11.2 postseason innings—and is prone to spurts of control issues during games.
Per espn.com, the Red Sox lead all playoff teams in walks with 38. That combined with their .325 on-base percentage—tops among playoff teams—leaves a razor-thin margin of error for Lynn. He'll put runners on base, and Boston will capitalize. First-time jitters will get the best of him against the Red Sox. He'll make things too easy for Boston.
Until this year, Peavy hadn't started a postseason game since 2006. He now has four postseason starts and a whopping 10.31 ERA to show for it. That doesn't bode well against the Cardinals, who led the National League in batting average with runners in scoring position this year.
Like Kelly and Lynn, Peavy has never started in the World Series. It will be tough for him to step into the fire against an elite Cardinals team. He'll surrender runs and will have to rely on the powerful offense behind him.
Drew, another World Series first-timer, is one of the weak links in Boston's lineup right now. In 35 at-bats, he is hitting .086 with a .111 on-base percentage, according to espn.com. He has struck out 12 times. After the Detroit Tigers, things get easier facing Cardinal pitching—but not by much.
Drew will be up against Adam Wainwright in Game 1 and likely Michael Wacha in Game 2. His batting average and OBP probably won't like that too much. I think his numbers rise a little bit, but not enough to have a truly productive series at the plate.
Check out Buster Olney and Jayson Stark's World Series prediction podcast via Olney's tweet, here:
In the end, Lynn and Kelly will cost the Cardinals the series. They will come very close, but Lynn will have a rough go in his start, and Kelly will lose his regular-season magic. The Boston offensive machine will be too much to handle.
The Red Sox will win this series in seven games. Expect an even more epic finish than the Cardinals' 2011 World Series against the Texas Rangers.
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