October 10, 2006

ESPN's Keith Law Sizes Up Mets/Cards

In his current column on ESPN.com, writer Keith Law sizes up the Mets & Cards chances in the series. We'll ruin the suspense- he predicts the Mets in 5 (we share the same predictions- hope Vegas isn't reading!) For a link to Laws' column, click here.

Some Highlights:

Keys for the Mets

• Getting four good innings from their starters every night. The Dodgers' offense was better than the Cardinals' offense this year, and if the Mets could beat them with four or five good innings from each starter (or even not-so-good, in Trachsel's case) and a Johnny Wholestaff approach from the bullpen, they can also beat the Cardinals that way.

• Keeping the bullpen rolling. The Mets got great performances from
Aaron Heilman, Billy Wagner, and Pedro Feliciano, and mostly good work from Guillermo Mota. Those four guys will be called on repeatedly in this series, so they'll need to pitch well and be able to pitch often.

• Executing on offense. The Mets have a strong offense, and the platoon advantage favors them heavily when the Cardinals' starters are on the mound. They need to score early before the Cardinals' resurgent late-game bullpen gets involved.

Keys for the Cardinals

• Deploying the lefties. The Cardinals carried two lefties in their NLDS pen; they should consider adding lefty
Chris Narveson for the NLCS, although if the lefty-heavy Padres lineup didn't convince them to carry Narveson, the similarly lefty-heavy Mets lineup probably won't. The Mets are slightly less scary against lefties, with Carlos Delgado and Shawn Green most vulnerable. La Russa loves matchup baseball; he needs to have the weapons.

• Contributions from unexpected sources. Someone besides Pujols has to show up at the plate; the Mets are too good for Pujols to beat them by himself. It could be Edmonds or Rolen, but it could easily be
Scott Spiezio or Ronnie Belliard, too. Someone has to have the unexpected good series, the way Sean Casey did for Detroit against the Yanks.

• Avoiding the blowout. Obviously avoiding a blowout is a goal for any team, but there's a heightened risk of a blowout for the Cardinals in this series because of their weak starting pitching, the Mets' good lineup, and the already-discussed platoon disadvantage for St. Louis' arms. The Cardinals must keep games started by Suppan-Weaver-Reyes close, because any or all of the three are at risk of an implosion against the Mets' offense.

We'll be back later today with our player comparisons!

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