For the first time, long-time rivals, the Chicago Cubs face the St. Louis Cardinals in the playoffs. Primarily, because the Cubs have rarely been in the postseason. However, with a young team guided by manager Joe Maddon, this could be the first of many October appearances for the Cubs. Meanwhile, the Cardinals are perennial playoff participants. I’m not sure what “the Cardinal Way” means, but their secret to success is depth from a strong farm system. Albert Pujols can leave as a free agent, Adam Wainwright can get injured, but the team keeps winning because someone from the minor leagues rises up to take their place. However, this year the injury bug may be too much for the Cardinals to overcome. Carlos Martinez was the ace of the staff and his loss due to shoulder stiffness is a big blow. Another big blow could be the torn ligament in Yadier Molina’s thumb. He’ll try to play with it, but how effective will the team MVP be? Also, hurting the Cardinals is the late season collapse of Michael Wacha who sported a 7.88 ERA in September. Wainwright has returned, but he’s relegated to the bullpen. The bad news for the Cubs is that they had to play a Wild Card game, so Arrieta can only pitch once in this series. Also, Jason Hammel hasn’t been that sharp lately. This should be quite a battle and I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a bench-clearing incident before it’s over. My guess is that the wounded Cardinals succumb to the youthful Cubs, but it won’t be easy.

 

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