Friday, October 14, 2011

St. Louis One Win Away from World Series

St. Louis's improbable run has taken them from not even being in the postseason conversation, to making the playoffs, and now to being just one win away from returning to the World Series for the first time since 2006. What's amazing about what St. Louis is doing in the NLCS is that they have managed to take a 3-2 series lead over the Brewers despite minimal support from their Starting Pitching. Through 5 games, the Cardinals have yet to have one of their starters record an out in the 6th inning. That's amazing.

To say Tony LaRussa has been liberal with the use of his bullpen would be an understatement. But it's been working for him. Let's take a look of the cast of characters he's been working with:

Octavio Dotel - RHP - 37 years old
NLCS -  3 appearances, 3 1/3 IP, 2.70 ERA, 1-0
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Resume: Dotel joined St. Louis from Toronto in late July in the Colby Rasmus trade so he's now played for 12 teams in 12 years. It's not due to a lack of performing though. He has 108 career saves and a career ERA of 3.74. In 2011 he held opposing hitters to a .185 average in 65 games.

NLCS Big Moments: Tonight Dotel came in to face Ryan Braun with 2 on and 2 out in the 5th and struck him out with a hanging breaking ball. He went on to throw a 1-2-3 sixth including a strikeout of Rickie Weeks to earn his second postseason win.

Lance Lynn - RHP - 24 years old
NLCS - 4 appearances, 4 1/3 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1-0, 1 Hold
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Resume: The 6'5" rookie pitched in just 18 games for St. Louis this year during the regular season but recorded over a strikeout an inning and finished with an ERA of 3.12. Primarily a starter while in AAA this year where he went 7-3 with a 3.84 ERA.

NLCS Big Moments: Was the winning pitcher in Game 2 of the NLCS after not making the NLDS roster due to injury. Retired all 4 hitters he faced in Game 3 while preserving a one run lead in the 7th and 8th innings.

Jason Motte - RHP - 29 years old
NLCS - 3 appearances, 3 2/3 IP, 0.00 ERA, 2 Saves
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Resume: The hard throwing former catcher set a career high in appearances in this his fourth major league season with 78. He finished the year 5-2 with 9 saves and a 2.25 ERA as he took over the closer role down the stretch.

NLCS Big Moments: Motte has a pair of 4 out saves in the NLCS retiring all 4 hitters he faced in both Games 3 and 5. Motte also fired a 1-2-3 inning to close out St. Louis's 12-3 win in Game 2 meaning he's retired all 11 Brewers he's faced in the series.

Arthur Rhodes - LHP - 41 years old
NLCS - 2 appearances, 2/3 IP, 0.00 ERA
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Resume: A Major Leaguer since 1991, Rhodes came to St. Louis from the Rangers after Texas released him in August. Primarily a lefty specialist at this point in his career, Rhodes pitched in 51 games in this, his 20th Major League Season, and has logged 900 appearances with 9 different teams over his career.

NLCS Big Moments: Mark Rzepczynski's performance in this series hasn't brought up a big need for Rhodes, but Rhodes showed his value in the NLDS when he came in to fan Ryan Howard in the 8th inning of Game 2 and Raul Ibanez in the 7th inning of Game 4, both St. Louis wins.

Marc Rzepczynski - LHP - 26 years old
NLCS - 4 appearances, 2 1/3 IP, 0.00 ERA, 2 Holds
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Resume: "Scrabble" came to St. Louis along with Octavio Dotel in the Colby Rasmus deal in July after 3 seasons in Toronto. After spending his first two years as a starter, he was converted to a reliever in 2011 and appeared in 71 games posting a career low ERA of 3.34 with 18 holds.

NLCS Big Moments: Rzepczynski's become Prince Fielder's personal kryptonite. The lefty came on to strike him out in the 8th inning of Game 3, and again tonight in Game 5.

Fernando Salas - RHP - 26 years old
NLCS - 3 appearances, 4 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1 Hold
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Resume: The Cardinals closer for most of the year before losing the role to Motte, Salas still had a very strong 2011 season. In just his second year in the big leagues, he posted a 2.28 ERA in 68 appearances and finished the year with 24 saves to go along with 6 holds.

NLCS Big Moments: Unavailable in Game 5 after being used for 2 innings in Game 4, Salas was the first guy out of the pen in Game 3 in relief of Chris Carpenter and earned a hold by retiring all three hitters he faced.

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