This MLB season has flown by so fast its hard to believe we already past half way. The All Star break is a great time to start projecting the winners of each division and the wildcard. Handicapping this years National League Pennant race is a little more complex than usual. There is at least 8 teams that have a true shot at winning there divisions or the wildcard. Also making it difficult is the trade deadline where most of these teams will be dealing to improve there squads.
Sports Handicapper Craig Trapp is going to take his best shot at predicting this years NL pennant winner. Craig is not going to take the chalk, as the LAD are +200 but have little to no value at that price. Instead Craig is going to take a swing with a longshot.
Looking past the LAD the most consistent team in the NL all year has been the St. Louis Cardinals. Craig is backing the Cardinals at a very nice value of +450.
The pitching staff for St Louis is very dependable and in 7 games series will be very tough to beat. Can you imagine having to face Carpenter 3 tims in a series? Carpenter is healthy and back in his Cy Young form of 2006. But there staff is much deeper than just Carpenter. Wainwright, Pineiro, Wellemeyer and Carpenter all have over 7 wins at the mid way point of the season. So far Wainwright has been a great number 2 pitcher as he has is 10-5 with only a 3.04 ERA. Adding to the depth of this staff is there best pitcher from 2009 Kyle Lohse who is coming off the DL this week.
The bullpen has been equaly as good so far this year as the best ERA bullpen in all of baseball at 2.56! When the season began the closer spot was a weakness of this team but they have found a gem in the offseason. Franklin has been unbelievable cashing in on 22 of his 23 save oppurtunities. His ERA is a rediculous .79 so far this season. Pretty amazing stats for this pitching staff so far this season and if they can maintain this pace they will be tough to beat.
So far this season the only knock on this Cardinals team has been consistent hitting. Only Pujols has been consistent all year, but he has made up for his teammates as he is leading in almost every offensive category. Ludwig, Ankiel, and Rasmus have shown signs of coming out of there slumps and if they can provide protection for King Albert watch out. This team does not have score a ton of runs to win but they need to improve if they want to win the pennant. Look for this improvement to occur early in the 2nd half of the season and carry them through rest of the season.
This team is very dangerous with great pitching and timely hitting. Also this team might get a ton better with an addition at the trade deadline. Many think they will get the best pitcher in the AL, Roy Halladay. If they get Halladay this team will win the World Series no problem. But either way Craig loves the Cardinals at +450 to win the NL PENNANT!!