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Friday, September 29, 2006

A Weekend for the Ages

Going into Friday's games:

St. Louis 81-77
Houston 81-78 0.5 GB
Cincinnati 79-80 2.5 GB

While the Cards technically still control their own destiny, their streak of terrible play and unfavorable matchups make them the least likely team to win the NL Central, in my opinion. The Astros have clearly been white-hot, but their series at Atlanta will not be an easy one. The Reds have the most ground to make up, but without a doubt, their schedule is the most favorable, as Pittsburgh is a bad team who is playing badly .

Friday Night:
Capuano at Weaver - Obviously this appears to favor the Beermakers on paper, but Capuano has been less than stellar in September (5.73 ERA) and is winless in three starts against the Cards this season. Weaver, on the other hand, has posted a 4.03 ERA in five September starts and is 1-0 agains the Brewers this season with a quality start. Prediction: Brewers 7, Cards 3

Clemens at James - This is what the Rocket lives for. 2.57 ERA in September, and no starts v. the Brewers in '06. Chuck James is no Wandy Rodriguez. He's a talented lefty with a 10-4 record and a 3.94 ERA for the season, including a 3-1 September with a 3.73 ERA. He has been roughed up in his last two outings, however, at Colorado and at Washington. Possibly fatigue? Prediction: Astros 3, Braves 1

Harang at Duke - Harang is coming off a complete game win against the Cubs and is 2-1 in September with a 4.26 ERA (and 1.00 WHIP). He is 2-1 against the Pirates in '06 with a 4.68 ERA. Duke has been splendid in September, going 2-2 with a 1.73 ERA. He has not faced the Reds this year. Prediction: Reds 3, Pirates 2

Saturday:

Houston 82-78
St. Louis 81-78 0.5 GB
Cincy 80-80 2.0 GB

Sheets at Suppan - Sheets has been the Sheets of old lately, posting a 3.03 ERA and 0.87 WHIP in September. Suppan has been very solid in September, going 2-0 with a 2.05 ERA and is 1-0 in four starts against the Brewers with a 2.59 ERA. Prediction: Brewers 4, Cards 1

Sampson at Cormier - This year's Pete Munro is Chris Sampson, doing his best to induce ground balls for as many innings as possible until the bullpen takes over. The biggest difference has been that Sampson has been effective in this role, whereas Munro rarely was, as hard as he tried. This will be more pressure, however, than Sampson has ever faced in his major league career, without a doubt. Lance Cormier has been pitching very well lately, going 2-1 in September with a 3.22 ERA and has never faced the Astros. Sampson and a tired bullpen are not going to be enough this day. Prediction: Braves 6, Astros 3

Arroyo at McLeary - Bronson Arroyo deserves Cy Young consideration for the same reason as Roy Oswalt - consistent throughout the season and spectacular in September. Bronson is 4-1 with a 2.23 ERA in September. Not only will this be a big game for him because of the pennant race, it will also be against his old team. Arroyo is 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA against the Pirates this season, including eight great innings in a win just a couple of weeks ago. Marty McLeary is a 32 year-old righty making his second start of the season (and of his career). The Reds struggle early but overtake the Bucs' bullpen. Prediction: Reds 5, Pirates 1.

Sunday's Games:

Houston 82-79
St. Louis 81-79 0.5 GB
Cincy 81-80 1.0 GB

Villaneuva v. Carpenter - Villaneuva has been inconsistent, but he did shut the Cards out for seven innings just last week. If the Cards could pick anyone to pitch a must-win game for them, it would obviously be Carpenter. But Carpetner has been mortal of late, allowing six runs in each of his last two starts. In the end, though, you know he is going to bounce back in such a tight spot against a very mediocre team. Prediction: Cards 5, Brewers 2.

Pettitte v. Smoltz - Pettitte has been a rock for the Astros in the second half, with a 2.27 ERA in August and a 3.05 ERA in September. He has struggled with some elbow issues of late, causing him to leave one start early and push back another. He is 1-0 with a quality start against Atlanta this season. Smoltz is not exactly who the Astros want to face in this situation, or in any situation for that matter. He has quietly posted another dominant season, including a 3-2 September and a 3.48 ERA, and he shut the Mets out for seven innings last time out. He has not faced the Astros in '06, but was 1-0 against them in a great start in '05. This will be about as good as it gets in regular season baseball. Prediction: Braves 2, Astros 1 on a Chipper Jones home run off Trevor Miller in the eighth inning.

Belisle, et al. v. Youman, et al. - By contrast to the Astros/Braves, this is the anti-matchup for the ages. Both teams will likely use at least six pitchers in this one, with the offenses and bullpens deciding the fate of the game. Momentum is key, and the Pirates have lost a whole lot of games lately. Why stop now? Prediction: Reds 8, Pirates 5

Standings:

St. Louis 82-79
Houston 82-80 0.5 GB
Cincinnati 82-80 0.5 GB

For one day only, fans of the Reds and Astros will cheer for the Giants as they never have before, as they take on the Cards in a make-up affair. Jason Schmidt is scheduled to pitch on Sunday for San Francisco and Matt Cain on Saturday, leaving a scheduled matchup of Anthony Reyes v. Jonathan Sanchez. More likely, Matt Morris would get the call against his old team, in poetic fashion. I'm not making a prediction on that game, but I will say that I do not think that the Cardinals will make the postseason this year...

What are your predictions for the weekend?

1 Comments:

Blogger Tim said...

Scott, Scott, Scott...oh ye of little faith. Here's the answer key:

FRIDAY
Cards lose.
'Stros win.
Reds lose.

SATURDAY
Cards lose.
'Stros win (with Albers and Buchholz coming up HUGE in two to three inning stints apiece).
Reds win.

SUNDAY
Cards win.
'Stros win.
Reds win.

Thus, Monday morning sees:

Houston 84-78
St. Louis 82-79
'Natti 81-81

Amending my previous prediction, Monday's game between the Cardinals and Giants will not be necessary. Houston locks up the division and a historical run to the playoffs by the end of the weekend. On the bright side, your preseason prediction of the Reds playing .500 baseball comes true. Quite a consolation prize, if you ask me.

Fri Sep 29, 03:38:00 PM  

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