St Louis CardinalsDownload App

MLB Playoffs 2011: 5 Reasons St. Louis Cardinals May Upset Philadelphia Phillies

Kelly ScalettaFeatured Columnist IVOctober 6, 2016

MLB Playoffs 2011: 5 Reasons St. Louis Cardinals May Upset Philadelphia Phillies

1 of 6

    The Philadelphia Phillies put the St. Louis Cardinals into the postseason when they beat the Atlanta Braves in extra innings. Will that come back to haunt them?

    Mathematically it was to their advantage. Rather than playing the Arizona Diamondbacks for the first round, they'll be facing the Red Birds, who have a worse record, but the Cardinals might be the last team they wanted to face.

    The Cardinals were miffed that they were getting written off earlier. After blowing a big ninth-inning lead dropped them two games behind the Braves, manager Tony LaRussa said, "We're disappointed. We're upset," La Russa said. "But you make a big mistake if you think we're heartbroken. We didn't mail in the series win. We played our (tails) off and couldn't close it down. It's disappointing. Don't make a mistake and say we're heartbroken. Our heart is beating."

    The Cardinals spent the last five weeks of the season playing "angry." It was as if they were just not going to miss the Wild Card. These were the true-life "Angry Birds" and they treated every series in front of them like a pig house. 

    Philadelphia is erecting their home now, but will they whither the storm of sling-shotted avian cast their way?

    St. Louis could upset the Phillies, and here are five reasons Philadelphia might end up regret winning. 

    Fellow B/R Featured Columnist Matt Goldberg has offered a reasonable counter to this article. You can read that here: 2011 NLDS: Yes, the Cards Can Upset the Phillies...It Says Here They Won't

Starting Pitching: .99

2 of 6

    The Philadelphia Phillies rotation is widely regard as one of the greatest if not the greatest in history. I have no argument with that. They have three Cy Young-caliber pitchers in their rotation in Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt. In addition they have a pitcher in Cole Hamels who has escorted them to a World Series win. 

    So it's not without that understanding that I point out the Cardinals starting pitching as a reason they could win. No matter how great Philadelphia's rotation is, it doesn't make the Cardinals rotation any less effective, and they have been effective against Philadelphia. 

    Here is what the Cardinals rotation has done against the Phillies this year. 

    Pitcher

    Innings

    Runs

    ERA

    Kyle Loeshe

    15.33

    3

    1.76

    Edwin Jackson

    0

    0

    N/A

    Chris Carpenter

    15

    1

    0.60

    Jamie Garcia

    15

    1

    0.60

     

    45.33

    5

    0.99

    By contrast, here is what the Phillies rotation has done against the Cardinals. 

    Pitcher

    Innings

    Runs

    ERA

    Roy Halladay

    14

    5

    3.21

    Cliff Lee

    15.33

    3

    1.76

    Cole Hamels

    7

    4

    5.14

    Roy Oswalt

    14

    5

    3.21

     

    50.33

    17

    3.04

    The question isn't so much about Philadelphia's rotation versus St. Louis's rotation as it is about each rotation against the other team's lineup. The Cardinals clearly see something in scouting the Phillies and have had tremendous success pitching against them. 

Lineup: .766

3 of 6

    One way to get to a pitcher is to have a top-to-bottom lineup that threatens. The Cardinals field the deepest lineup in the National League. With Matt Holliday, Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman and Allen Craig they can field four hitters with an OPS of over .900.

    The Phillies have one player, Hunter Pence, with an OPS over .900. They have only six hitters whose OPS is higher than the Cardinals team OPS of .766. 

    The Cardinals can hit from top to bottom. When you can field a lineup with seven hitters with an OPS of .800 or better you can get to even the best pitching. If the Cardinals can keep men on base, the attrition will have its effect on the Phillies rotation. If anyone can score on them, it's St. Louis. 

Albert Pujols: Zero

4 of 6

    Zero is the number of years left on Albert Pujols' contract. It's clear he doesn't want to leave St. Louis and it's clear that St. Louis doesn't want him to leave. 

    What better way to keep everyone happy than to win another World Series? There's been a kind of sense amid the Cardinals late-season surge that this is for Pujols. The reality is if they win it gives the management the peace of mind that they can spend that extra couple of million a year and they can give him that extra year. 

    Pujols wants to stay and his teammates want him to stay. The team has really come together in the last month of the season, going 22-9 since August 25th, and a good portion of that has to do with wanting to win for Pujols. 

    That's not going away now that the postseason has started. 

Tony Larussa: 9-3

5 of 6

    Tony LaRussa is one of the great managers in the history of the game, and this is his 13th trip to the postseason. In the previous 12 trips he's won the first-round series nine times. 

    He's a four-time Manager of the Year (and a strong case could be made for him this year as well) for a reason. He knows how to manage. He knows how to win. His total of 59 postseason wins is the most among active managers and the third-most in major league history. 

    He's also tied for the most World Series wins by active managers with Terry Francona, who might not be active for much longer. 

    The 2006 Cardinal team was widely regarded as not having a chance of winning a World Series—well, until they did anyway. LaRussa knows how to get the most from his players, and he will. 

Season Series: 6-3

6 of 6

    The best reason to believe that the Cardinals can beat the Phillies is that they have, owning the season series 6-3. That includes winning three of four in Philadelphia. Nothing makes a team believe they can do something like actually having done it. 

    Now I've carefully worded the headline here to say "may" upset the Phillies because I believe Philadelphia is still the favorite. However, there are a lot of reasons that the Cardinals faithful can hold hope that the Cards will continue their winning ways and get to the next round. 

    St. Louis is not just a "hot" team. They are a "good" team that got healthy and started gelling at the right time. They aren't a bad team that played well and got lucky that Atlanta fell apart. They are a team that took advantage of the opportunity that was presented to them by playing well.

    The world champion San Francisco Giants had the same opportunity but could not capitalize. 

    Don't be to quick to write off the Red Birds. If they can take one of the two games in Philadelphia they would be in a position to go up 2-1 in Game 3.

    The downside of not getting your rotation set is that your rotation is not set. The upside is that they would be starting Chris Carpenter, who just had that amazing complete-game, two-hit, 11-strikeout performance that put the Cardinals into playoffs, giving them the chance to go up one game. 

    Playing with this kind of lineup, starting their best pitcher in a critical Game 3 and in a shortened series give the Cardinals a lot of room for an upset. Don't be surprised if the "Angry Birds" pull it off. 

Where can I comment?

Stay on your game

Latest news, insights, and forecasts on your teams across leagues.

Choose Teams
Get it on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Real-time news for your teams right on your mobile device.

Download
Copyright © 2017 Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved. BleacherReport.com is part of Bleacher Report – Turner Sports Network, part of the Turner Sports and Entertainment Network. Certain photos copyright © 2017 Getty Images. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of Getty Images is strictly prohibited. AdChoices