Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals NLDS Preview

Matt Carpenter and the Cardinals face their division rivals, the Chicago Cubs in the NLDS.
Matt Carpenter and the Cardinals face their division rivals, the Chicago Cubs in the NLDS.

By Stephen Elliott

The St. Louis Cardinals face division rival Chicago Cubs in the National League Division Series. This is the number one and number three best team records in the National League. The Cubs are fresh of their dominate performance in the wild card game and the Cardinals have been taking advantage of their time off to rest some fatigue players. This will be the closest series out of any divisional series.

Keys for each team to win
It was rumored a couple weeks ago that Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina would be out for the postseason with a thumb injury. On Thursday, Manager Mike Matheny listed Molina on the 25-man roster but did not say whether he would play or not. He is the most important player on the Cardinals. Baseball’s best catcher brings more than a strong arm and clutch hitting. Molina’s game strategy (calling pitches and defense awareness) is better than any catcher in the league. He knows his pitchers and he knows umpires’ strike zones. If he doesn’t play, the Cardinals are in trouble.

Adam Wainwright was another Cardinal waved goodbye for the season after he tore his Achilles in April, but like Molina, he is on the 25-man roster. Matheny has him listed as reliever adding to an experience bullpen of Trevor Rosenthal, Jonathan Broxton and Seth Maness. Like any other reliever, it will be interesting to see watch situations Matheny puts Wainwright in.

The Cubs are the mirror reflection of the former NL Central opponent Houston Astros. Like Houston, their team is run primarily by young talent that jelled together a year better than expected. Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester are two perfect pitchers for the postseason, but they cannot win the series on their own. The backend of the bullpen and starting rotation that had their difficulties in the regular season need to produce in the postseason.

Elite players turn it up for the postseason. Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro and Kris Bryant are the top of the pool of young talent on this Cubs roster. If these players get on base and score or score people in, they can win the series. It will be interesting to see how these young players deal with the pressure an opposing crowd brings in a postseason series.

Prediction: Cardinals win in five
I’ve gotten too use to seeing the Cardinals find ways to win games and series to go against them. Their postseason resumes are filled with clutch performances in the postseason. Matheny is the best manager in the league at putting his players in the right positions to perform at their best. Joe Maddon can do that exceptionally, as well. Maddon and the Cubs need at least one more year to be in the same boat as the Cardinals. The Cubs will show their time is coming soon. Watch for the Cubs to take advantage if Molina and other Cardinal bandaged  players do not play.

Upcoming Schedule – All Times CT
* If necessary

FRI., OCT. 9 Cubs at Cardinals, 5:45 p.m. TBS
SAT., OCT. 10 Cubs at Cardinals, 4:37  p.m. TBS
MON., OCT. 12 Cardinals at Cubs, 6:07 p.m. TBS
TUE., OCT. 13 *Cardinals at Cubs, 3:37 p.m. TBS
THU., OCT. 15 *Cubs at Cardinals, 3:37 p.m. TBS