With the match-up officially set, Friday’s Game 1 showdown pitting the Cubs and Cardinals will be hard pressed to live up to those backyard games my childhood best friend and I played each and every summer. Growing up in a split household and forced to watch the Chicago broadcasts was bad enough but now the entire nation outside of the Arch will be pulling for the Baby Bears.
It will be even sweeter then playing the role of spoiler and keeping those north siders on the outside looking in for yet another calendar year. And if the NLDS gets as crazy as we all expect it, there is no doubt in my mind that St. Louis wins because the battle of the bullpens favors the Birds on the Bat.
Setting the Table
Randy Choate and Jonathan Broxton could realistically play two very different roles this series. The veteran pair could be called upon anywhere from the second to the seventh inning and most likely not for more than a batter or two depending on how Maddon the mad scientist has stacked his lineup. Both have the postseason experience necessary to thrive in the fun-house that is Wrigley and most importantly, there is an insurance policy at the ready just in case.
Let’s Go for Two
How happy does the name Seth Maness make you when Matheny calls for him in the middle of an inning? There should be a written rule that Mike can not use the double-play bringer to start any inning, just in case the video has been lying for years. Maness just knows how to clean up other people’s messes and quite frankly, I expect him to be warming up pretty much all the time.
With all the weapons at his disposal, Matheny certainly will not be lacking for answers if and when one the games needs an audible. Especially during the first two games at home, an Adam Wainwright appearance in the bullpen may cause the umpires to pause the action. Second only to Yadi in current historical order, Waino’s return has been nothing short of magnificent for the Cardinals. The man did what he said he would do, and St. Louis will erupt when the manager makes the call for Uncle Charlie out of the pen.
Flip a Coin
While there should never be a doubt who the closer for the Cards will be for a long while to come, October does a funny thing to managers and bullpens alike. Trevor Rosenthal and Kevin Siegrist both possess an arsenal that can match any of the other shutdown duos in the game. It is very likely that depending on who is coming up in the 9th (looking at you Rizzo) and how the scoreboard reads, Siegrist easily gets a call to close it out.
The added benefit of having Wainwright in the mix can only serve to make the Matheny/Maddon dynamic all the more intriguing. And to be honest, raise your hand if you object to seeing Adam warming up for the 9th just one more time.