2011 NLCS Series Odds and Predictions – St Louis Cardinals vs Milwaukee Brewers Expert Picks and Vegas Series Price: Heading into the National League Championship Series, one thing is certain. A team from the NL Central will win the pennant and play in the 2011 World Series. The only question that remains is whether the Milwaukee Brewers or the St. Louis Cardinals will be the team representing the division in the Fall Classic. Needless to say, both franchises are every familiar with one another, and there will be no secrets for either side. There won’t be any love lost either, and an intense series between two rivals should unfold.
Milwaukee and St. Louis have certainly had their share of dramatics already during the 2011 postseason. The Brewers needed an extra-inning, walk-off hit in Game 5 of their division series to get by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Meanwhile, the Cardinals knocked off the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 5 of their division series thanks to a complete game 1-0 shutout by starter Chris Carpenter. Throw in the fact that the Cardinals erased a 10 ½-game deficit with a month remaining in the regular season just to make the playoffs and then dispatched the team with the best record in baseball, and there should be no questions about whether or not both Milwaukee and St. Louis can handle the pressure of playing in the NLCS.
Looking at the regular season numbers doesn’t necessarily make the picture any clearer. After all, the two teams split the 18 games against each other. Granted, St. Louis won six of the last seven games in the series, but most of those wins came late in the year when Milwaukee had the division more or less in wrapped up. After all, the Brewers did finish a comfortable six games ahead of the Cardinals. Further clouding things is the fact that the Cardinals won five of the nine games between the teams in Milwaukee, even though the Brewers finished with the best home record in baseball (5-4).
Offensively, both teams have their share of firepower. The Cardinals have three-time MVP first baseman Albert Pujols and outfielder Lance Berkman anchoring their lineup, while the Brewers have first baseman Prince Fielder and outfielder Ryan Braun doing the same for their lineup. For St. Louis, a potential X-factor could be shortstop Rafael Furcal. He hasn’t been great since coming over in a trade, but he has had a habit of scoring big runs, including the lone run in Game 5 against Philadelphia. The Brewers can counter with outfielder Nyjer Morgan, who delivered the game-winning hit in Game 5 against Arizona and has been a sparkplug for the team most of the year.
In terms of pitching, the Brewers have the deeper starting staff. Yovani Gallardo, Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke all have ace-caliber stuff. Gallardo was nothing short of brilliant in his two starts in the NLDS, but Marcum has been struggling down the stretch and could be running out of steam. For the Cardinals, Carpenter answered any questions about his age with his clutch performance in the series clincher against the Phillies. However, Edwin Jackson, Kyle Kohse and Jaime Garcia have all been up and down during the course of the year.
Since both division series went the full five games, the rotations for both teams are jumbled. Aces Gollardo and Carpenter won’t be seen until Game 3, meaning two starts is likely the max for both. Given the depth of the Brewers’ rotation, Milwaukee could have the advantage. The Brewers could also have the edge in the bullpen department. Francisco Rodriguez is a setup man with tons of closer experience, while John Axford has been nearly perfect as the closer. Meanwhile, St. Louis has played musical closers most of the year.
In the end, the Brewers’ starting pitching depth and more reliable bullpen should give them the edge. Playing four of the seven games in Miller Park should be an advantage as well. The Cardinals have shown all year that they can never be counted out, and they certainly have the best player on the field in Pujols. However, the will need their pitching to overachieve in order to hold up during a best-of-seven series. Expect “Beast Mode” to be in full swing as the Brewers continue to ride the bats of Braun and Fielder and their solid pitching to a hard-fought series victory.
Prediction: Milwaukee Brewers Win in 7 Games
St Louis Cardinals vs Milwaukee Brewers Series Odds
St Louis Cardinals +120
Milwaukee Brewers -140
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