Pitching, Pitching and More Pitching!

The importance of the arms in the St. Louis Cardinals' World Series victory is analyzed.

It's pretty clear that it was pitching, pitching, and more pitching that served as the impetus for the World Series win over the Tigers; the best thing about this Series is that Jeff Weaver's superb series-clinching game was very nearly the rule rather than the exception.

Let's take a look at the sixteen postseason games and see what I mean.

In sixteen postseason starts, Cardinal starters posted 11 games with Game Scores of 50 or more, and only five with Game Scores below 50. Considering the team won 11 games and lost fine, that sounds just about right.

Moreover, one of those five less-than-50 games still qualified as a Quality Start - Suppan's WS start in Game Four, in which he went six innings and allowed three runs. That means Cardinal starters threw 12 Quality Starts in 16 games, a remarkable run of success.

It gets better - in sixteen starts, Cardinal starters allowed more than three runs only once: Carpenter, who allowed five runs against the Mets in NLCS Game Two (a game which the Cards still won!). In every other game, Cardinal starters allowed three or fewer runs - three runs three times, two runs six times, one run twice, and zero runs four times.

Overall, the average Game Score for Cardinal starters this postseason was 57.5; their combined ERA for the postseason was 2.63; they allowed just 79 hits and 33 walks in 99 1/3 innings, a WHIP of 1.13.

By comparison, the oppostion starters averaged 48.6 points, and only exceeded 50 or more on the Game Score scale six times in 16 games.

Another factor that needs to be highlighted is the fatigue factor, or lack thereof. Cardinal starters averaged a shade under 6 1/3 innings per start, but never exceeded 106 pitches in the process, averaging just under 92 pitches per start; indeed, Card starters threw fewer than 100 pitches in only three of the 16 games (although there were three other starts with 98 or 99 pitches thrown by the starter).

And this is where we have to give a little - actually, a lot of - credit to the bullpen. With the exception of one game, the 12-5 loss to the Mets in Game Four of the NLCS, the bullpen was superb, and made it possible for the starters to not have to overextend themselves; we had no fear to bring in a reliever when it was time to do so.

Bullpen numbers: Even counting Game Four of the NLCS, the relievers posted an ERA of 2.81, allowing 14 runs (13 earned) in 41 2/3 IP. Take that game out of the mix and in the other 15 games, the bullpen allowed just four runs (all earned) in 36 2/3 IP, for an ERA of 0.98!

Let's not neglect the defense; the Cards allowed only two unearned runs the entire postseason!

It's pretty amazing to realize that the old adage of "good pitching beats good hitting" remains true. In 2004, the Cards had a powerful offensive team, led by the "MV3", but were totally shut down by the Red Sox.

In 2006, the Cards had not nearly as powerful a team, averaging just 4.0 runs per game during the postseason, but it was enough as the pitching (and defense) held the opposition to just 2.75 runs per game!

Considering how badly the pitching fell apart after the San Francisco virus, it's remarkable how the guys were able to crank it back up in postseason and perform so brilliantly in 15 of the 16 games!


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