It truly is a shame that the National League Divisional Series doesn’t have a story line to drum up interest. Or if there was an interesting plot twist to spice up the action, maybe those national media outlets would be paying attention? Ho hum, the Cardinals are back in the playoffs again…yawn. Remember when those were the days!
Tonight in St. Louis will be historic for any number of reasons, whether it is former rotation mates squaring off or the return of Adam Wainwright to Busch. You also have the Molina watch and that whole thing about the Cubs calling out Matheny’s gangster squad. It is true that Chicago has been on a tear, so that is where this whole thing started. Momentum and drive go hand-in-hand but for a duo on opposite sides, it seems there is something in the TCU water.
With all the talk about Jake Arrieta turning into Superman every five days, did the Cards catch a break in the DS format? Most importantly, with the eyes of baseball about to capture of glimpse of what could be the key NL match-up for the next decade, who will step up for the Birds on the Bat and crush everyone’s Baby Bear dream? My money is on the slugging third baseman who spent two years as Arrieta’s teammate a lifetime ago. Matt Carpenter‘s story has been well documented in baseball lore, and the video game numbers displayed by the former Frogs in 2015 have the pair on a collision course.
To say that both players have exceeded expectations would be putting it mildly, and the series will hinge on the pivotal Game 3 in Wrigley. Before they get to Arrieta’s spot in the rotation, though, Carpenter has the opportunity to put some distance between the long-time rivals. He is back atop his perch with possibly the strongest St. Louis lineup to date, and they will need to strike early and often to stop the Cubs.
Where the Cardinals have thrived most over the last decade has to be the draft success that begins with players just like Carpenter. Every team passed on the fifth-year senior until the 13th round in 2009, the year before Arrieta made his major league debut in Baltimore. One of my former co-workers is related to the hurler and since she is a devoted St. Louis fan, it was better that he was an Oriole.
After his third consecutive sub-par season, everything changed just before Independence Day in 2013. Arrieta was quite possibly the throw-in piece that Chicago received in the deal and well, the NL Central hasn’t been the same since. As we know all too well, that is the summer that Carpenter could not be stopped and fell one hit shy of 200. If last year was the coming out party that proved the extension was well worth it for St. Louis, this year’s dominance by Arrieta means the duo will be spending part of next July together as well.
The only difference then for both sides is it will be the one time everyone roots for the I-55 teams together. Since Arrieta should be starting the All-Star game with Carpenter playing behind him, thoughts of this weekend will be long forgotten, right? Get ready for a crazy ride, because the next week may feel like a roller coaster with no place to stop. And for those of you like me who have family that pull for both sides, good luck since the fun is only beginning!