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Blog Entry

Bullpens are great, but in WS starters matter

Posted on: October 18, 2011 7:48 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2011 12:14 pm
 
ST. LOUIS -- The World Series managers announced their starting pitchers Tuesday.

They didn't say who will pitch the sixth inning.

Or the fifth, for that matter.

Yeah, that was a joke, a weak one, but one even the Cardinals and Rangers starters themselves are telling after two playoff rounds that at least temporarily changed the way we look at starters.

No Cardinal starter went past the fifth inning against the Brewers. No Rangers starter has thrown a pitch in the seventh inning this entire postseason.

It's enough to make you forget that both these teams had decent to good rotations during the regular season. It's enough to make you forget that the Cardinals only got through the first round because of the best-pitched game of the playoffs so far -- Chris Carpenter's three-hit shutout in Game 5 against the Phillies.

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These two bullpens are good, and these two managers aren't afraid to use them. But it's not as if they're hoping to use them early.

Really, it isn't.

"No, we haven't completely changed the game," Cardinals Game 3 starter Kyle Lohse said with a chuckle. "We're not going with 12 relievers. But I was joking about that the other day, that we're not really starters."

The Rangers rotation actually had the third-best ERA in the American League in the regular season (3.65), behind only the Rays and the Angels. The Cardinals rotation was middle of the pack, eighth in the 16-team National League at 3.81.

Both were much better over six months than they've been over the last three weeks (5.43 for the Cardinals, 5.62 for the Rangers).

"Their starting staff, by the way, is no joke," the Cardinals' Skip Schumaker said Tuesday.

Both teams are staying with the same four starters they've used through the first two rounds of the playoffs. The Cardinals will go with Carpenter in Game 1, followed by Jaime Garcia, Lohse and Edwin Jackson. The Rangers have announced C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis for the first two games, but haven't yet said whether Derek Holland or Matt Harrison will start Game 3 (the other would go in Game 4).

Lewis and Wilson are the only Rangers starters who have gone past the fifth inning in this postseason, with Lewis pitching into the sixth inning twice, and Wilson doing it once.

"Trust me, we like the attention we're getting in the bullpen, but we'd love for those guys to give us seven or eight strong innings," Rangers reliever Mike Adams said. "I would love to see one of these guys go eight."

The Cardinals feel the same way.

"I told someone that it's nice to know that next year I only have to go five, with the bullpen going four," injured Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright said. "But you take the ball with the intention of throwing the last pitch. There is some solace in knowing that if you don't, the bullpen has got your back."

In this postseason, the bullpen has had the back end of the game, and in too many cases the front end of the game, too.

In the World Series, don't be shocked if that changes.

"I really think the key is going to be the starters," Cardinals outfielder Lance Berkman said. "And both sides have very capable starters."


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