St. Louis Cardinals: The big bats need to keep it up in the NLCS
By Matt Graves
The St. Louis Cardinals muscled their way past the Braves in the NLDS. Now facing the Nationals, the biggest bats will be key if the team will advance.
When comparing the St. Louis Cardinals and the Atlanta Braves, the Cardinals had a clear advantage in the pitching and defense categories which, as fans saw, beat out the muscle-bound offense they were going up against.
The Cardinals disappearing offense trick showed up some, but in general, the pitching of the Cardinals was enough of an advantage to take the load off the offense. The other thing that happened was that the biggest bats of the Cardinals stepped up when the team needed them to.
After beating the Braves in the NLDS, the Cardinals will now go on and face the Washington Nationals in the NLCS.
Against the Nationals, the Cardinals don’t have that pitching advantage anymore. They also don’t have an offensive advantage.
The pitching of the Nationals and Cardinals probably comes out to about a wash. The rotation for the Nationals is probably better but the Cardinals have the better bullpen. What all this means is that the Cardinals are going to need their offense to continue to step up if they want to have any chance at getting to the World Series.
In the NLDS, the two biggest bats on the Cardinals, Paul Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna, stepped up. Playing in all five games, the two of them combined to hit .429, hit seven doubles, four homers, drive in seven, and score 11 times. That last number is a testament to how the rest of the lineup did to drive the two sluggers in, but with both of the team’s biggest bats having an OPS of above 1.300, they were huge to jumpstart the offense.
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The third most valuable bat in the NLDS was Tommy Edman. Batting seventh most of the series, Edman hit .316 with an OPS above .900. Edman tallied six total hits and three doubles and one triple of his own. He was an extra-base machine that series and the offense benefited greatly from the rookie.
The offense as a whole stepped up big time in the NLDS and that is one of the biggest reasons the Cardinals are where they are today. Goldschmidt and Ozuna led the charge, but everyone contributed.
10 different players tallied RBIs in the series for the Cardinals and of those 10, eight tallied more than one. The leader was Ozuna with five RBIs from the cleanup spot. This testament to the balanced offensive approach of the Cardinals.
This is going to be more than necessary again as again, the Cardinals are facing great hitters on the other side, and much better starting pitching.
The NLCS is a spot the Cardinals likely didn’t see themselves getting to but here they are. Postseason baseball can be one of the most random things there are, so there’s not any way to truly predict what’s going to happen. All we can hope for is that the dice roll the Cardinals way more than the Nationals.