Tuesday, October 22, 2013

My World Series Prediction - Bryan Knepper

Anyone that thinks they can predict sports outcomes is probably broke from betting in Vegas.  Who can predict a fan reaching over the fence to grab a Jeter "Home Run" or the "Bloody Sock" game or my favorite a routine play forever being known as a "Buckner"? But alas, I will give you my predictions for the REMATCH as some out there are calling the 2013 edition of the Fall Classic:

Game 1: at Boston, Wednesday, October 23rd 8:07 pm EST (All games on FOX)

Why 8:07 pm you ask...because we must all be inundated with AT LEAST 7 minutes of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver spouting off whatever it is they deem important on any given night.  Did someone say McCarver was retiring? Can he take Joe Buck with him? Please...?

Pitching Matchup: Adam Wainwright (19-9, 2.94 ERA) vs. Jon Lester (15-8, 3.75 ERA)

Projected Starting Lineups:

St. Louis
1. Matt Carpenter - 2b
2. Carlos Beltran - rf
3. Matt Holiday - lf
4. Allen Craig - dh
5. Yadier Molina - c
6. David Freese - 3b
7. Mike Adams - 1b
8. John Jay - cf
9. Pete Kozma - ss

1. Jacoby Ellsbury - cf
2. Shane Victorino - rf
3. Dustin Pedroia - 2b
4. David Ortiz - dh
5. Mike Napoli - 1b
6. Jarrod Saltalamacchia - c
7. Jonny Gomes - lf
8. Stephen Drew - ss
9. Xavier Bogaerts - 3b

Both pitchers are veterans of the postseason and are known as big game pitchers.  Even though Wainwright had the edge in stats over the regular season, Lester can be dominant at home as he has only given up 3 earned runs in the last 14.0 innings at Fenway, equivalent to a 1.93 ERA.  While the Cardinals' "ace" only gave up 2 earned runs vs. the Dodgers in his last road start in the postseason, no offense to Los Angeles, but Boston is a different kind of offensive juggernaut.  They score in bunches and are willing to grind out a starting pitcher to get deep into the bullpen of the opposing staff.  While St. Louis boasts a better bullpen than Detroit's (what the heck Benoit? right down the middle to Ortiz up by 4 runs...??), I see Boston using their home series advantage (re: the Big Green Monster) to jump out to a 1-0 series lead.  Although having Craig in the lineup at DH helps the Cards big time in the threat of run production, I just don't see Boston losing Game 1 at home...the fans will just be too hyped up for the Sox to let it slip away.

Game 1 Prediction: Red Sox 5 Cardinals 3 (Boston up 1-0)

Game 2: at Boston, Thursday, October 24th 8:07 pm EST

Pitching Matchup: Michael Wacha (4-1, 2.78 ERA) vs. John Lackey (10-13, 3.52 ERA)

Wacha, wacha, wacha! I couldn't resist...so sue me... Call it a gut feeling, but there is just something about this rookie that tells me he will not fold under pressure.  Needing a win in Game 2, Wacha will take the mound and dominate turning over the game to the bullpen late and shut down the Red Sox much like Scherzer did for the Tigers...for his sake, hopefully the bullpen holds.  For Lackey's part, I believe he will keep Boston in the game, but some type of late game heroics by the likes of Yadier Molina will ensue giving the Red Birds the win going home to St. Louis.

Game 2 Prediction: Cardinals 2 Red Sox 1 (Series tied 1-1)

Game 3: at St. Louis, Saturday, October 26th 8:07 pm EST

Could they really not start the game any earlier...granted, I will be able to sleep in for a late morning church service, but come on...start it at around 6 pm so that it doesn't compete with the College Football Saturday night game...not smart planning by MLB or FOX in my humble opinion.

Pitching Matchup: Clay Buchholz (12-1, 1.74 ERA) vs. Joe Kelly (10-5, 2.69 ERA)

The big question will be what manager John Farrell will do with Ortiz...will he risk putting the lumbering giant in the field to keep his clutch bat in the lineup?  If he does...what then happens with Napoli...move him back to catcher?...that's plausible enough I guess.  The non-DH battle will definitely favor St. Louis as their pitchers historically hit well (for pitchers).  Ultimately this will be a game decided by starting pitching.  Joe Kelly gave up 4 earned runs in 5 innings in his last start, while Buchholz has been roughed up in the last 3 postseason games giving up 19 hits and 10 earned runs.  His only other postseason game came in 2009 where he gave up 2 earned runs in 5 innings.  This may end up being a long-relief type of game for both teams ultimately decided by the closers in more than 1 inning of relief.  The obvious edge in that department would go to the Red Sox with Uehara.

Game 3 Prediction: Red Sox 8 Cardinals 5 (Boston up 2-1)

Game 4: at St. Louis, Sunday October 27th 8:07 pm

Okay FOX, we get it...you want baseball fans to be punished on Monday morning at work as we roll into our offices and/or cubicles on only 4 hours of sleep...because we all know that Red Sox or Yankees games last at least 7 hours long in the postseason.

Game 4 will be the pivotal game in the series in my opinion...a statement game if you will.  Whichever team wins this game will win the series.  And what a pitching matchup they have in store for you!

Pitching Matchup: Jake Peavy (12-5, 4.17 ERA) vs. Lance Lynn (15-10, 3.97 ERA)

Not too impressive on the regular season stats.  Not too impressive in Peavy's last outing either...as he sported a 21.00 ERA vs. the Tigers giving up 7 earned runs in 3 innings of work.  But at least his arm will be rested!  Lynn hasn't been dominant by any stretch of the imagination giving up 2 earned in 5 1/3 in his last start against the Mattinglys (err: Dodgers).  But he won that game.  In fact he won 2 games in the NLCS backed by less than stellar run support.  He keeps his team in the game, which is exactly what I expect to happen in St. Louis.  The edge in this game goes to the Cardinals.

Game 4 Prediction: Cardinals 5 Red Sox 3 (Series tied 2-2)

Game 5: at St. Louis, Monday October 28th 8:07 pm

In a rematch of Game 1, Adam Wainwright will solidify his postseason greatness (see 2006 postseason where he pitching in 9 games and gave up exactly ZERO runs and only allowed 9 base runners)...yeah, that kind of greatness.  I can see Wainwright going deep in this one with a potential shutout, which he will have to produce as Lester will deal inning for inning with him.  Ultimately some type of judgement call by an Umpire or some fluke play will decide the outcome, with St. Louis having the edge as the home team.

Game 5 Prediction: Cardinals 2 Red Sox 1 (St. Louis up 3-2)

Games 6 and 7: at Boston, Wednesday and Thursday Oct 30-31 8:07 pm

In predictable fashion, this series will go the distance, at least in terms of equal playing time on each field. Whether it ends in 6 or 7 games doesn't really matter.  Boston will have all of the pressure on them with their home-field advantage and the Cardinals led by loose players such as Yadier Molina will play like they have nothing to lose.  I see the Cards taking 1 of the final 2 games in Boston to win their 3rd World Series title since 2006.

Game 6 Prediction: Red Sox 8 Cardinals 5 (Series tied 3-3)

Game 7 Prediction: Cardinals 5 Red Sox 2 (St. Louis wins Series 4-3)

FOX definitely hopes my predictions are right, because they would have the whole Midwest and New York area cheering for it.  Whichever team wins, they will be the only team to win 3 World Series in the last 10 years and most likely be favored to win it again next year.  The teams couldn't be more even if you tried, with each having 97-65 regular season records (best in their respective leagues).  If you made it this far in this article, you are probably wondering which team I placed a bet on...guess I'll head on over to the casino in the morning.

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