Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Will starters take hold of World Series?
By Jeff Caplan
ST. LOUIS -- The postseason plight of these two World Series rotations have been dissected and well-documented. It has not been pretty.
The Texas Rangers, baseball's leaders in shutouts this season and with each of its four playoff starters boasting at least 14 wins, managed one win in the ALCS. The St. Louis Cardinals staff, led by Game 1 starter Chris Carpenter, couldn't even do that.
"Yes, I’m a little surprised," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "I expect those guys to go deeper than they have, but the bottom line is however they deep they went they kept us in the ballgame and we were able to pull some of them off. I hope this time that they can take the ball and keep it a long time, hopefully nine innings."
Nine innings might be asking a bit much, considering Games 1 and 2 are in St. Louis with no designated hitter. The likelihood of pinch-hitting for the pitcher is always a possibility, plus both lineups are explosive and both managers aren't afraid to go to their stellar bullpens early and as often as needed.
That said, Washington said he expects Game 1 starter C.J. Wilson to put together his first extended start of the postseason tonight.
"What I expect to see out of C.J. is for him to go out there and keep the ball seven to eight innings and have us to just turn it over to the bullpen late," Washington said. "That’s what I expect to see."
Washington on Tuesday tabbed Colby Lewis as the Game 2 starter after Derek Holland filled the spot in the previous two series. Washington won't say it, but the move could be to keep Lewis pitching on the road, where he was a far better pitcher this season. In the prior two series, Texas had home-field advantage, so Lewis started both Game 3s on the road.
Either Holland or Matt Harrison, both young lefties, will start Games 3 and 4, although Washington had not decided on an order.
None of the Rangers' starters have lasted beyond six innings and Lewis has managed a so-called quality start of at least six innings and three or fewer runs. The starters' ERA for the ALCS was 6.59 and more than 5.00 for the entire postseason.
"We have the ability to go deep in the games, it's just sometimes the game situation hasn't dictated that," Wilson said. "The starting pitchers on our team, I can speak for us, and for Colby, we talked about it and said we're here to win, and however we have to win, it doesn't really matter. We don't really care. If we only get to throw five or six innings that's fine because our bullpen is awesome. Their bullpen is good, too. That's just the way it's been shaking out."