31-6, 1.96 22-9, 1.12
the defending champion cardinals are looking to become the first back-to-back champions since the '61 and '62 yankees. the 1967 team returned almost fully intact, this year however, with a healthy gibson for the full season.
in a year loaded with amazing starting pitching, gibson stood above the rest. hoot mowed down opposing batters at an alarming rate. gibson went 22-9, but in his 9 losses posted a 2.14 ERA. he threw 28 complete games, 13 of which were shutouts. of the 6 games gibby didn’t complete, all 6 were his removal for a pinch hitter.
to put this staggering number into a visual picture for you, NEVER in the 1968 season did red schoendienst come to the mound to get the ball from gibson. he was that good. he posted a 1.12 ERA, the lowest ever for a pitcher that threw over 300 innings in a season. gibson pitched in 10 more games in ’68 than in ’67, but gave up 20 fewer runs.
this is also not gibson's first dance, either. gibson goes into the '68 series with a 5-1 lifetime record in the world series with a 1.00 era.
if gibby was dominant this season, mclain was consistent. starting the most games in the major leagues this season, mclain logged equally the most innings. with that, he was able to win 31 games and post a sub-2.00 era. being prone to the longball, it is unclear whether that is a factor of playing in tiger stadium or if mclain has a tendency to be gopher happy. each of the last 3 seasons, he has led the league.
the only cardinals hitter with any real experience vs mclain is maris. maris has faced him 25 times with 6 hits (3 doubles and a triple) and 2 walks/2 strikeouts.
for the Tigers, their offense was ranked first in baseball in OPS+, tied with the reds. for comparisions sake, gibby was 2-0 vs the reds with his 2nd highest strikeout/9 ratio of the season. the highest was against the 2nd best offense in the national league, the pittsburgh pirates. both pittsburgh and cincinnati were below league average in strikeouts, while detroit was slightly above. detroit led the league in homeruns, which lends credence to tiger stadium being behind mclain's gopheritis. if gibby can establish his command early, he may be able to use busch stadiums expansive space to keep the tigers in the yard.
for the cardinals, despite winning fewer games than the tigers, the pressure is on them to win again this season. they have the best pitcher in the league and the highest payroll in the league. a win in this series and they would have undeniable rights to being the team of the decade, knocking off the yankees (2-2 in the 60's) and the dodgers (2-1 in the 60's).
first pitch @ 8:00 pm est on mlb network, pregame with bob costas interviews at 7:00.