2011 NLCS: Complete Breakdown of Brewers vs. Cardinals

Scott SewellCorrespondent IOctober 8, 2011

2011 NLCS: Complete Breakdown of Brewers vs. Cardinals

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    I'm not sure if there is any way the NLCS can match the drama and excitement of the NLDS, but here's some good news for you—the Brewers and Cardinals regular season series was tied 9-9.

    That has to be a good sign.

    Here's another one.

    Milwaukee is 5-4 against St. Louis at home.

    St. Louis is 5-4 against Milwaukee at home.

    These are two teams that are very evenly matched all the way around and there are no secrets between these NL Central squads.

    It's always more exciting when two teams that know each other so well are battling it out for the ultimate prize—a trip to the World Series.

    If we're going to try to determine who will win the series then we have to break this down piece by piece.

    Let's. Do. This.

Starting Pitching: Milwaukee

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    Milwaukee and St. Louis each have very strong starting rotations.  Milwaukee definitely had a slight edge during the regular season, but Chris Carpenter proved Friday night that he has another level in him that nobody on Milwaukee can match.

    Overall, I still give a slight edge to Milwaukee, but Carpenter will undoubtedly get two starts in a series of any real length and that could ultimately make the difference.

    Advantage: Milwaukee




    St. Louis


    Y. Gallardo

    17-10 3.52 1.215


    K. Lohse

    14-8 3.39 1.168

    Z. Greinke

    16-6 3.83 1.200


    C. Carpenter

    11-9 3.45 1.256

    S. Marcum

    13.7 3.54 1.156


    J. Garcia

    13-7 3.56 1.320

    R. Wolf

    13-10 3.69 1.319


    E. Jackson

    5-2 3.58 1.462


Relief Pitching: St. Louis

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    I was prepared to throw this one decisively into the Milwaukee column until I looked up the numbers.

    The Cardinals bullpen was amazing in the regular season, boasting three players with sub 1.000 WHIPs.

    Milwaukee definitely has the advantage in a long 13 or 14 inning game, but it's clear to me that St. Louis has the more effective bullpen in Dotel, Salas, and Motte for a nine inning game.

    Since most games only last nine innings I'm giving St. Louis the tiniest of advantages

    Advantage: St. Louis




    St. Louis


    T. Saito

    4-2 2.03 1.125



    0-1 4.15 1.038

    F. Rodriguez

    4-0 1.86 1.138


    O. Dotel

    3-3 3.28 0.851

    J. Axford

    2-2 1.95 1.140


    F. Salas

    5-6 2.28 0.947

    L. Hawkins

    3-2 2.42 1.241


    M. Rzepczynski

    0-3 3.97 1.456

    K. Loe

    4-7 3.50 1.125


    M. Boggs

    2-3 3.56 1.368

    C. Narveson

    11-8 4.45 1.392


    J. Motte

    5-2 2.25 0.956

    M. Estrada

    4-8 4.08 1.209


    J. Westbrook

    12-9 4.66 1.533

Starting Lineup: St. Louis

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    Braun and Fielder have been consistently amazing throughout the season and I whole heartedly believe that Ryan Braun should be your NL MVP.  However, with the exception of Corey Hart, the rest of the lineup has been below average this year.  They are hitting for power, but they aren't getting on base nearly enough.

    St. Louis has a team of professional hitters.  They all have good approaches at the plate and know how to work the count and get to team's bullpens sooner.  

    A healthy Matt Holliday gives the advantage to St. Louis easily, an injured Matt Holiday gives the Brewers a slight advantage.  Since it appears Holliday is ready to go, I'm giving the advantage to St. Louis.




    St. Louis


    C. Hart

    .285 26 63 .866


    R. Furcal

    .255 7 16 .735

    N. Morgan

    .304 4 37 .778


    S. Schumaker

    .283 2 38 .685

    R. Braun

    .332 33 111 .994


    A. Pujols

    .299 37 99 .906

    P. Fielder

    .299 38 120 .981


    L. Berkman

    .301 31 94 .959

    R. Weeks

    .269 20 40 .818


    M. Holliday

    .296 22 75 .912

    J. Hairston Jr.

    .274 1 7 .727


    Y. Molina

    .305 14 64 .814

    Y. Betancourt

    .252 13 68 .652


    D. Freese

    .297 10 55 .791

    J. Lucroy

    .265 12 59 .703


    J. Jay

    .297 10 37 .768

Bench: St. Louis

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    The Milwaukee bench is very weak.  Counsell used to be a clutch post season performer, but that was at least 10years ago.  Everyone else is unproven or just not good, in fact, not even average.

    Craig and Theriot aka The Riot often start and Punto and Descalso provide important defensive help.

    Advantage: St. Louis




    St. Louis


    G. Kottaras

    .252 5 17 .771


    G. Laird

    .232 1 12 .660

    C. Counsell

    .178 1 9 .503


    D. Descalso

    .264 1 28 .687

    T. Green

    .270 0 1 .622


    N. Punto

    .278 1 20 .809

    C. McGehee

    .223 13 67 .626


    R. Theriot

    .271 1 47 .662

    C. Gomez

    .225 8 24 .679


    A. Chambers

    .375 0 4 1.000

    M. Kotsay

    .270 3 31 .703


    A. Craig

    .315 11 40 .917


Defense: Milwaukee

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    Carlos Gomez is far and away the best defensive player in this series, but he's not a starter so his defensive impact is less than someone like Corey Hart or Albert Pujols.

    Hart, Pujols, Braun, Hairston, Craig, Molina and Betancourt are all solid defensive players.  The rest of the players on both team are considered below average according to advanced metrics like Rtot, which basically measures the number of runs saved by defensive plays.

    Both of these teams are below average defensively, but I'm giving a slight edge to Milwaukee for the difference that Carlos Gomez can make in late innings.

    Advantage: Milwaukee

Speed/Base Stealing: Milwaukee

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    Milwaukee is definitely the faster team.  Braun leads both teams with 33 steals and it takes six Cardinals players to outperform him.

    Arizona's Miguel Montero led the league in Caught Stealing Percentage so he helped to negate Milwaukee's speed in the NLDS.

    That won't be a problem in the NLCS.

Coaching: St. Louis

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    Ron Roenicke has done an amazing job in his first year as the manager of the Milwaukee Brewers, but Tony LaRussa is at legendary status with decades of success and two World Series titles.

    LaRussa thinks outside the box and tries to be innovative.  Sometimes it fails, but often times it succeeds.  As soon as he leaves St. Louis expect a long decline in their success.

    I hate LaRussa and I hate the Cardinals, but he's definitely the better manager.

Home Field Advantage: Milwaukee

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    Milwaukee was a Major League leading 57-24 at home in 2011 whereas St. Louis was only 45-36.  

    It's definitely a huge advantage for Milwaukee to not only be better at home, but to have four games to play there.

    Advantage: Milwaukee

X Factor: Beast Mode

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    Beast Mode vs. Squirrels? 

    I'm taking Beast Mode every time.  EVERY. TIME.

Prediction: Milwaukee

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    Milwaukee is going to party like it's 1982.

    The Brewers will win the series in five games on the strength of their starting pitching.

    The key for the Cardinals is going to be whether or not they can win a game in Milwaukee.  If they don't steal at least one of those games then this is going to be a short series.

    2011 National League Champion—Milwaukee Brewers


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