My Lineup for the Cardinals: Game One, 2011 NLDS
1. Furcal is cleared to play, and must leadoff come hell or high water.
2. Holliday is on the roster, but is hurt and limited to pinch-hit the first game.
3. Halladay (no relation) is starting for the Phillies.
4. The Cardinals carry no more than twelve pitchers (I hear La Russa will carry eleven).
All statistics from Yahoo! Sports. All errors are mine. I live in Portland, Oregon, and see few Cardinal games, so my analysis is lacking experience. For instance, I don't know the Cardinals' defensive abilities (or liabilities) as well as most here. Consider the following a semi-statistcal analysis only.
Batting First: SS Rafael Furcal (Switch hits, .255/.316/.418/.735, 7 HR, 16 RBI, 4 SB)
Furcal evidentially is a lock to lead off given his hamstring injury is healed enough to keep him on the roster. He has other numbers to back up his inclusion in the starting lineup. A former Brave, he has the most games played against the Phillies (117), though his numbers are not stellar (.259/.312/.367/.680 with 7HR). He also has had success against Halladay, going 3-9 with a double and only one strikeout lifetime. Finally, in his last ten games he is batting .300 with five runs, four doubles, a home run, three RBI and one stolen base.
Batting Second: 2B Nick Punto (Switch hits, .278/.388/.421/.809, 1 HR, 20 RBI, 1 SB)
A breakout game 161 against Houston (4-5, HR, 2B) made up for otherwise cold hitting (3-14 in nine games) the last ten games. In seven games against Philadelphia Punto is batting .389 with an incredible .522 OBP and a home run. Finally, he has had many at-bats against Halladay due to his days in Minnesota, going 4-14 with two walks and an RBI. He also plays better on the road. He starts because of these advantages, pushing Schumaker to the bench. Should he make this choice, La Russa will not have much pop hitting second.
Batting Third: 1B Albert Pujols (Bats Right, .299/.366/.541/.906, 37 HR, 99 RBI, 9 SB)
Statistically speaking, Pujols has a less-than-exciting history in the regular season both against the Phillies (.279 in 68 games) and Halladay (2-11 lifetime). Furthermore, he only has one home run and four RBI in his last 46 AB (ten games). By numbers alone he might be better served hitting first or second. But seeing as this is the playoffs, one of the greatest hitters ever in his contract year, numbers alone seem insignificant.
Batting Fourth: RF Lance Berkman (Switch hits, .301/.412/.547/.959, 31 HR, 94 RBI, 2 SB)
Berkman provides good protection for Pujols. Besides having a comeback year, in 73 games against the Phillies he is batting .313 with a .976 OPS and 53 RBI. He has also hit 12 dingers against Philadelphia, one against Halladay (2-5, 1 HR 2BB) not two weeks ago on September 19. He is 11-33 his last ten games with five walks, five RBI-and no home runs. Having your 3-4 hitters with 1 HR and 9 RBI in the last ten days is a cause for concern, but at least they are both hitting.
Batting Fifth: OF Allen Craig (Bats Right, .315/.362/.555/.917, 11HR, 40 RBI, 5 SB)
Although during his career Craig does not hit either Philadelphia (.152 in 9 games) or Halladay (0-4, K) well, he is 12-29 with 5 HR and 11 RBI in his last ten games--including a monster 3-4, 2 HR outing in Philidelphia on the 19th. Also, his power only came during his starts in that time--he was 0-3 in three games as a pinch-hitter--so given his short-term history a start over Schumaker makes sense. Otherwise I would go for Schumaker for his experience, his left-hand bat and his career history against Halladay and the Phillies.
Batting Sixth: C Yadier Molina (Bats Right, .305/.349/.465/.814, 14 HR, 65 RBI, 4 SB)
A career year at the plate makes Molina a tempting choice behind Berkman given playing Holiday off the bench. He is hitting .434 with seven walks in his last ten games, and in that time has only struck out once. He has also shown his ability to bat in the postseason, seemingly getting better as the season wears on.
Batting Seventh: 3B David Freese (Bats Right, .297/.350/.441/.791, 10 HR, 55 RBI, 1 SB)
Freese has had pedestrian numbers in seven games against the Phillies (.259, .667 OPS) and is 0-2 with a walk against Halladay, but he is entering the postseason on a six-game hitting streak. He also has some pop, but not so much to miss him much in the middle of the order. An argument could be made having him bat second, but one could argue on different grounds for Craig or Jay as well.
Batting Eighth: CF Jon Jay (Bats Left, .297/.344/.424/.768, 10 HR, 37 RBI, 6 SB)
Despite batting near .300 for the year, Jay has not batted well in the last ten games, and has only 9 RBI in the last 52 games since taking over for Rasmus according to mlb.com. He is not batting well in 16 games against Philadelphia (.267) nor against Halladay (1-8 with 3K). Having two outfielders with only two years in the league each starting in the playoffs is also not ideal.The Cardinals just don't have anyone as experienced at center.
Batting Ninth: P Kyle Lohse (Bats Right, 11 hits in 63 at-bats, 3 runs, 2 doubles, 3 RBI, 1 BB and 17 K)
I thought about batting him third, but apparently someone else is hitting there. So Lohse gets stuck at ninth.
OF Matt Holliday (R, .296/.388/.525/.912, 22HR, 75 RBI, 2 SB. 1-6, BB, K vs. Halladay. .275, 13HR, 40 RBI in 45 games vs. Phillies). Presuming he'll sit at least the first game, perhaps pinch-hitting. I also presume he starts regardless of injury against lefties Lee and Hamels. That being said, he doesn't seem to bat particularly well against Halladay, nor so much better against the Philllies that you would want to rush him if he is really injured.
2B/LF Skip Schumaker (L, .283/.333/.352/.685, 2 HR, 38 RBI. 3-8, BB vs. Halladay. .321/.369/.491/.860 with 4 HR in 36 games against Philadelphia). Schumaker was mired in a slump until the final two games at Houston where he hit a double and drove in five. Only because I'm nervous about sticking him in center field (where he had only one start all year) do I bench him this game. He has great career statistics against Philadelphia, but plays worse on the road than at home, and was 0-6 with 3 K in the last series in Philadelphia.
2B/SS Ryan Theriot (R, .271/.321/.342/.662, 1HR, 47 RBI, 4 SB. 1-7, RBI, 2BB vs. Halladay. .314/.386 OBP and 9 SB in 45 games against Phillies). Offensively, Theriot makes the case for a start, hitting well against Philadelphia and quite nicely his last ten games (.291, 3 2B, 3B, 5 RBI, 2 SB in limited play).
3B David Delasco (L, .264/.334/.353/.687, 1HR, 28 RBI, 2 SB. 2-6, 2B, K vs. Halladay. .368 OBP in 9 games vs. Phillies). Delasco has only a couple hits and a walk in limited play the last ten games, but has doubled against Halladay, and has a reputation for a good glove at third. It also doesn't hurt to have a leftie off the bench.
C Gerald Laird (R, .232/.302/.358/.660, 1 HR, 12 RBI, 1 SB. 6-23, 3 RBI, 6K against Halladay). Laird is 4-23 in his last ten games playing behind his good friend Molina. Notably, he has the most hits off Halladay-six-of any Cardinal on the roster. So he's got that going for him.
I think this is my first post at VeB, so hello to everyone involved. I have been a fan of the team for well over thirty years. Go Cardinals!
What's the most important change you would make to this lineup?
Sit Jon Jay no matter who starts center field (1 vote)
Start Skip Schumaker (6 votes)
Start Matt Holliday no matter how severe the injury (1 vote)
Pitch Carp on two days' rest (0 votes)
It's good enough to get by the Phillies for one game (15 votes)
It's so awful that it needs multiple changes (explain in comments) (2 votes)
The real most important change needed is...(explain in comments) (2 votes)
27 total votes