In two nights we have seen two upsets—first the Yankees and now the Phillies. The Phillies started the season as the favorites to win the World Series. Tonight, Philadelphia was expected to close out the NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals. With a pitching staff full of aces and that American League-type lineup, there was no reason why they should have lost.
For the Cardinals to be able to beat the Phillies in Philadelphia, against arguably the best pitcher in baseball, Roy Halladay, just goes to show how unpredictable baseball can be. Think back to before the Cardinals season even started. With the failure to sign Pujols to an extension, and the incredibly slow start Pujols had and the slow start the team had, for them to turn it around and be where they are now is simply incredible.
Now on to Milwaukee to face a fearsome team in the Brewers, who won a surprisingly exciting series against the D-Backs. The way the Brewers were playing, and as hot as they were, you had to be expecting a sweep from them—but even the D-Backs were able to battle back and force a Game 5.
The Cardinals better gather some notes from the D-Backs if they want to beat the Brewers. The weak link of the Brewers is probably the starting rotation. The Brewers took the first two games of the 2011 season against Arizona. For the last two games of that series, the D-Backs not only beat the Brewers, but scored 18 runs which showed the Brewers rotation does not have a lot of depth. They have two aces in Yovani Gallardo (17-10, 3.52 ERA) and Zack Greinke (16-6, 3.83 ERA), and they have an incredible bullpen. While Shaun Marcum (13-7, 3.54 ERA) and Randy Wolf (13-10, 3.69 ERA) are good pitchers who each won 13 games, they are the pitchers who notched the two losses against the D-Backs.
As for the Cardinals, they will have the starters. Chris Carpenter (11-9, 3.45 ERA) won't pitch Game 1 because he just pitched, but despite his record, the way he pitched against the Phillies in Game 5 shows a lot about what kind of veteran pitcher he is. He has been here before, and he has won before, so pressure isn't going to overwhelm him. Kyle Lohse (14-8, 3.39 ERA) and Jaime Garcia (13-7, 3.56 ERA) also have great stuff.
There is reason to believe the Cardinals have the edge in rotation, but the Brewers have the edge with bullpen and lineup. However, if Holliday plays in the next round, that's going to be a big help just being in the lineup.
Prediction: Brewers win 4-2