Scouting Report

How the Red Sox, Cardinals match up

David Ortiz and the Red Sox will host the Cardinals in the first two games of the World Series.

Jim Davis/Globe Staff

David Ortiz (right) and the Red Sox will host the Carlos Beltran and the Cardinals in the first two games of the World Series.


Right off the bat, the Cardinals get better with Allen Craig back in the lineup after nursing a foot injury since Sept. 4. That allows them to use Craig as the DH in the games at Boston while Matt Adams plays first base.

Both lineups ran into major problems in the League Championship Series, with St. Louis hitting .211 vs. the Dodgers and the Red Sox .202 vs. the Tigers. But the Red Sox came up with big hits — grand slams by David Ortiz and Shane Victorino — that proved to be the difference.

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At catcher, the Cardinals have the advantage on offense (and defense, for that matter) as Yadier Molina is generally regarded as the best overall catcher in the game. Let’s see how effective Molina will be slowing down Jacoby Ellsbury: the best base stealer vs. the catcher with the best arm.

The Red Sox probably have the edge at first base, where Mike Napoli was hot during the ALCS and has played a Gold Glove-caliber defense, while Adams hit 17 homers in just 319 plate appearances.

At second base, you have the great defense and intangibles of Dustin Pedroia vs. a tremendous year by Matt Carpenter (199 hits). But Carpenter has hit just .167 in the postseason.

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Third base will be the great unknown for the Red Sox, as Xander Bogaerts and Will Middlebrooks are likely to split duty. Bogaerts has been a spark, going 3 for 6 with three doubles and five walks. The Cardinals’ David Freese didn’t have a good season and is hitting only .189 in the postseason, but he has the 2011 NLCS and World Series (MVP in both) to feed off.

There are a couple of good glove men at shortstop in Pete Kozma and Stephen Drew, but neither has done much at the plate. Drew is 3 for 35 in this postseason.

You have to give the Cardinals the edge in the outfield, where Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran trump Jonny Gomes, Daniel Nava, and Shane Victorino, though Victorino hit the big grand slam. Beltran has been red-hot (12 October RBIs) and is the hitter the Red Sox staff must neutralize. Gomes has been Boston’s good-luck charm more than anything (6-0 in his playoff starts).

The Red Sox take the cake in center, where Jacoby Ellsbury has hit .400 with six steals and 10 runs. Jon Jay and Shane Robinson have not combined for a good October so far.


CFJacoby EllsburyL.298.35557792172318953
RFShane VictorinoS.294.351477821402621561
2BDustin PedroiaR.301.37264191193422984
DHDavid OrtizL.309.3955188416038230103
1BMike NapoliR.259.360498791293822392
LFDaniel NavaS.303.385458771392901266
CJ. SaltalamacchiaS.273.338425681164001465
SSStephen DrewL.253.333442571122981367
3BWill MiddlebrooksR.227.27134841791801749

2BMatt CarpenterL.318.3926261261995571178
RFCarlos BeltranS.296.339554791643032484
LFMatt HollidayR.300.3895201031563112294
DHAllen CraigR.315.373508711602921397
CYadier MolinaR.319.359505681614401280
1BMatt AdamsL.284.33529646841401751
3BDavid FreeseR.262.34046253121261960
CFJon JayL.276.35154875151272767
SSPete KozmaR.217.2754104489200135

Starting pitching

Red Sox starters had a 4.59 ERA against Detroit. Clay Buchholz and Jake Peavy weren’t that good, but Jon Lester and John Lackey were very good. Cardinals starters have a 2.57 postseason ERA, led by Adam Wainwright and rookie Michael Wacha, who will pitch Games 1 and 2.

Wainwright, the 19-game winner with a great curveball, is 2-1 with a 1.57 ERA in the postseason and Wacha has been almost unhittable (3-0 with a 0.43 ERA and a .114 batting average against). But here’s the rub: Wacha, 22, has to pitch at Fenway, and that’s always tough for a young pitcher. ESPN analyst Curt Schilling believes Wacha has the poise and maturity to turn it up a notch.

The Series could be decided by the third and fourth starters. Joe Kelly and Lance Lynn for St. Louis, and Buchholz and Peavy for the Red Sox have to come up big. Or at least one of the two on each team needs to step up.

The big thing for Sox is to keep Carlos Beltran in check. The Sox hope to use a specific strategy against Beltran as they did vs. Miguel Cabrera.

Cardinals pitchers are good at holding runners on base, which is imperative when Ellsbury gets on. Sox starters aren’t quite as good; Lackey is abysmal, with 36 steals against him, most in the majors this season. However, the Cardinals were next-to-last in the majors in stolen bases during the regular season with only 45.


LJon Lester15-83.75213209896717719
RJohn Lackey10-133.52189179744016126
Postseason2-02.8412  1143140
RClay Buchholz12-11.74108752136964
RJake Peavy12-54.17144130673612120

RAdam Wainwright19-92.94241223793521915
Postseason2-11.5723  1741201
RMichael Wacha4-12.7864522019655
Postseason3-00.4221  814221
RLance Lynn15-103.97201189897619814
RJoe Kelly10-52.69124  12437447910


You have one closer who throws the ball through the catcher’s mitt with smoke (Trevor Rosenthal) and one who tricks you (Koji Uehara). Both are extremely effective. Rosenthal has been near-perfect in the postseason, allowing only three hits and no runs in seven innings; Uehara has 13 strikeouts in nine innings.

The Red Sox have relied heavily on the threesome of Craig Breslow, Junichi Tazawa, and Uehara for their late-inning work, and their bullpen has an 0.84 ERA for the playoffs compared with 1.84 for the Cardinals. Rosenthal throws 100, which should be interesting. He is part of a nice threesome with lefty Randy Choate and righty Carlos Martinez. David Ortiz said the Boston offense is filled with fastball hitters, and that may give the Red Sox an advantage. We’ll see.


RKoji Uehara4-11.097433991015
Postseason1-11.009  510131
LCraig Breslow5-21.8159491218333
Postseason1-00.007  30560
RJunichi Tazawa5-43.1668702412729
Postseason1-01.595  51030
RRyan Dempster8-94.57171170877915726
RBrandon Workman6-34.9741442315475
LFranklin Morales2-24.6225241315212
LMatt Thornton0-43.7443471815304

RTrevor Rosenthal2-42.63756322201084
Postseason0-00.007  30290
RCarlos Martinez2-15.082831169241
RSeth Maness5-22.3262  651613354
RJohn Axford7-74.0265  7329266510
LRandy Choate2-12.293526911280
LKevin Siegrist3-10.453917218501
LShelby Miller15-93.06173152595716920
Postseason0-09.001  11011


The Red Sox win the bench matchup easily, though with Allen Craig back, presumably Matt Adams comes off the bench when the Series goes to St. Louis.

The Red Sox have the luxury of going with David Ross, who went 2 for 3 in Game 5 of the ALCS, and Daniel Nava is a big weapon off the bench if he doesn’t start.

John Farrell seems open to using Nava more, though he still feels Jonny Gomes is a spark for the team.

Either way, having Gomes/Nava and Mike Carp off the bench, as well as Xander Bogaerts/Will Middlebrooks, trumps Shane Robinson, Adams, Kolten Wong, Daniel Descalso, and Adron Chambers. Robinson did hit a big homer in Game 4 of the NLCS.


LFMike CarpL.296.3622163464182943
CDavid RossR.216.298102112250410
LFJonny GomesR.247.34431249771701352
SSXander BogaertsR.250.320447112015
LFQuintin BerryL.625.6678550014

INFDaniel DescalsoL.238.2903284378251543
OFShane RobinsonR.250.345144223621216
INFKolten WongL.153.19459691000
CTony CruzR.203.240123132561113
OFAdron ChambersL.154.24126541001


Both Mike Matheny and John Farrell won 97 games.

Matheny’s moves in the NLCS seemed to raise fewer questions than Farrell’s in the ALCS did. Bringing in Franklin Morales to replace Clay Buchholz in Game 6 vs. Detroit was one of those questionable moves, but even though Morales gave up the lead, the Red Sox came back to win the game. Farrell was right to keep using Stephen Drew at shortstop because of his defense.

Matheny has done an amazing job of replacing Tony La Russa, who left after winning the World Series in 2011. Matheny reached the NLCS in his first year and won it this season.

Farrell didn’t face as much pressure taking over a 69-win team, but he led it to the World Series, albeit with significant personnel enhancements. He has restored order and calm to a very tense situation.


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