Buster Olney on M&M: Cardinals’ defense biggest weakness
|10.23.13 at 2:46 pm ET|
Buster Olney joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to discuss the opposition in the Red Sox’ World Series matchup with the Cardinals.
Game 1 is on Wednesday night, when Adam Wainwright and Jon Lester take the mound at Fenway Park.
“I love going inside on the matchups on this series, because there are so many fascinating elements,” said Olney. “Clearly the Cardinals don’t have the starting pitching the Tigers do, but they do have that unbelievable stable of guys throwing 95-97 miles per hour.”
Wainwright and rookie Michael Wacha anchor St. Louis’ rotation, with Joe Kelly and Lance Lynn in the final two spots. However, Kelly and Lynn have not matched the heroics displayed by Wainwright and Wacha in the NLDS vs. the Pirates and the NLCS against the Dodgers.
“When you look at what Joe Kelly and Lance Lynn have done, they’re basically 80-pitch pitchers, and that’s like 3 2/3 innings for the Red Sox, which means the St. Louis bullpen is going to be responsible for anywhere from 9-15 outs in each game, and you know what, they can do that,” Olney said.
Boston had Detroit’s bullpen to thank for its ALCS win. The Tigers ‘pen twice allowed grand slams in the seventh inning or later, with Detroit leading the game, both times culminating in a Red Sox win.
But the Cardinals have a far superior bullpen. They have young, hard-throwing righties in Trevor Rosenthal and Carlos Martinez, experienced arms in Edward Mujica and John Axford, and lefty specialists Randy Choate and Kevin Siegrist.
“They have everything. They have guys that can get ground balls, they have guys that can get strikeouts, they have two left-handers, unlike Detroit, that they can throw at David Ortiz,” Olney said.
Many people have scrutinized St. Louis’ defense.
“If you were to try pick out a distinct weakness on each team, I think the range of the St. Louis position players is notable,” said Olney, who targeted Carlos Beltran as one of the Cardinals’ worst defenders, along with Jon Jay, Matt Holliday, David Freese and Matt Adams. “Only one guy had a worse [Ultimate] Zone Rating than Carlos Beltran, among all outfielders in Major League Baseball, and he’s got to play right field here, which is difficult.”
Yadier Molina is one player who does not fall under the Cardinals’ umbrella of bad defenders. Molina threw out 44.5 percent of baserunners from his catcher position this year.
“I think it’s 80 percent Molina’s arm and his ability to load quickly and get rid of the ball, and it’s 20 percent that it’s something that they work at, it’s a culture that they slow down runners,” said Olney, after speaking to a few Boston players.
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