By next Thursday, the San Francisco Giants will be replaced as the reigning World Series Champion.…
Cardinals Playoff Scouting Report
The Cardinals are very difficult to match in the middle of their order. Pujols, Berkman, and Holliday stack up with any middle of the order in baseball and regardless of their pitching, even the Phillies will have their hands full. And, their biggest strength of all is by far having an Albert Pujols that is clicking on all cylinders heading into October. There is still no bigger offensive weapon in the game.
Although they made it into postseason ball, the Cardinals show as many weaknesses as any playoff club. They have some holes in their pitching staff and will rely heavily on Chris Carpenter to match zeros with the aces the Phillies bring to the table. They aren't without depth, but the starters they bring to the playoffs don't exactly have a truck load of experience. Also keep a close eye on the Cardinal bullpen. They do have talent and power arms, but many of these guys have not been down the postseason road before, and that can often spell disaster.
Matchup To Watch
How could anyone not be interested in watching the Phillies' pitching staff square off against Albert Pujols? More specifically, the matchup to watch will be Roy Halladay against Pujols. The St. Louis slugger is a career .182 against the Phils' ace. And, it's actually not that surprising that he'd have that level of success against Pujols.
Halladay pitches so effectively with a scissor effect, running the fastball in then cutting the ball away from right-handed power hitters. And, this is one of the only real ways pitchers are going to have any success in getting Pujols out with any degree of consistency.
Fans of the Yankees and Twins may remember Lance Berkman and his postseason performance in 2010. He showed flashes of returning to form and that's exactly what he's done in 2011. And, I would expect him to perform once again on the big stage in October. Berkman has been seeing fewer fastballs than he ever has before in his career, which should lead you to believe that pitchers are still very aware of his bat speed. Typically if a hitter is pitched one way during the season, that strategy only gets magnified in the playoffs.
As previously noted, it's Carpenter that needs to match zeros with these aces the Cardinals are going to run into. To his credit, Carpenter appears up to that task and his stuff looks as good as ever. Carpenter has gone back to using his slider as his top secondary pitch and it has been a major weapon for him. It should serve him well breaking in on the powerful lefty bats in the Philadelphia lineup.
The playoffs are all about the closers sometimes. The Cardinals may not want to call Motte their closer but it sure seems that he is. And, if that's the case he has quite a weight on his shoulders. The Phillies have a history of feasting on late inning relievers in October and how Motte withstands the pressure will play an enormous role for the Cardinals.
Check out all the latest postseason analysis and prospect scouting reports on ScoutingBaseball.com and for more on the St. Louis Cardinals check out TheCardinalNation.com
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