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weather permitting

it's good that they didn't play. the juxtaposition of a big ballgame in flushing vs a dead ballplayer 7 miles away in manhattan. . . . too surreal. it would have diminished both the ballgame and the mourning. the city, and the nation's baseball fans, deserved a day to absorb the news. it's not any less sad today, but the shock has worn off and we've had an opportunity to contemplate. that seems to make it more appropriate now to get on with things of a non-life-and-death nature.

here's what i'd like to know: why couldn't the cardinals have gotten one of these playoff rainouts in '04 or '05, when it would have brought their pitching depth to the fore? postseason off-days usually render depth meaningless and reward roster top-heaviness, a dynamic that seems to disadvantage the cardinals every october. now, with an off-day eliminated, they're in a playoff series that will play like a stretch of the regular season -- and wouldn't you know it, they lack the deep staff to capitalize.

they will benefit, though, from the opportunity to pitch carpenter in game 2. bernie reported last night that tony is leaning toward moving carp up. assuming he goes that way, the pitching pairings will go like this:

weaver GAME 1 glavine
carpenter GAME 2 maine
suppan GAME 3 trachsel
reyes GAME 4 perez
weaver GAME 5 glavine
carpenter GAME 6 maine
suppan GAME 7 trachsel

this alignment seems to give the cards a clear advantage in four of the seven pairings (2,3,6 & 7), with game 4 a tossup. it also heightens the onus on the mets to win game 1 behind glavine; lose that one with carpenter going in game 2, and they might well find themselves down 0-2 heading to st louis. also to the good, this arrangement forces the mets to use their best starting pitcher on short rest in game 5, diminishing his value. granted, weaver will also be on short rest, but he's not supposed to win that game anyway, so no loss to our side; the short turnaround threatens the mets' advantage, not the cardinals'.

above all, this alignment reduces the chances that st louis will get knocked off before carpenter's 2d start; he can now pitch game 6 on normal rest, rather than waiting around for a game 7 that might never be played.

both bullpens will likely have to carry heavier loads, particularly in games 4 (when the least reliable starters face off) and 5 (when guys go on short rest). an early-inning blowout by any starter for either side in games 1 through 3 could have repercussions, ie a burned-out bullpen. if the mets need bulk innings to preserve the 'pen, they can turn to darren oliver, who pitched pretty damn well this year (4-1, 3.44 era) and is a left-hander, which means the cardinals won't hit him. oliver, as you know, is a former starter -- he was in the st louis rotation as recently as 1999 -- and still capable of munching innings; he had 10 outings of 3 innings or more in 2006. the cardinals have a ready long-relief counterpart in josh hancock, who surpassed the 3-inning mark 5 times and pitched reasonably well in the bargain.

how about the short relievers -- which team's corps is better equipped to handle some overtime this week? the table below summarizes the number of outings each pitcher had this year at given lengths. first the mets:

up to 1 inn 1.1 to 1.2 inn 2.0 to 2.2 inn 3 inn or more
heilman 57 2 14 1
feliciano 50 8 5 1
mota 43 5 3 1
bradford 60 10 0 0
hernandez 64 3 1 0
wagner 65 2 3 0
TOTAL 339 30 26 3

and here's the same table for the cardinals:

up to 1 inn 1.1 to 1.2 inn 2.0 to 2.2 inn 3 inn or more
thompson 20 14 9 0
wainwright 41 6 12 2
looper 51 5 13 0
kinney 14 2 5 0
johnson 49 4 2 0
flores 60 5 0 0
TOTAL 235 36 41 2

only one of the mets' short relievers, aaron heilman, had more than 5 outings that lasted at least 2 full innings. three of the cardinals' short men had 5 or more such outings, and a fourth (josh kinney) had 5 of them in less than a third of a season. per the charts above, 25 percent of the outings by stl short men lasted more than 1 inning, and 14 percent lasted 2 innings or more. the corresponding figures for the new york short men are just 15 percent and 7 percent.

if the bullpens are forced to stretch, the younger cardinal arms seem better equipped to the task. might confer a slight edge on the cards; might never come into play.

something to keep in mind when games 4 and 5 roll around.