Pitched Battle

Chris Carpenter gives the Cards' rotation an edge, but will it be enough to stop the hard-hitting Mets and their rested bullpen?
October 15, 2006

STARTING PITCHINGhas been a weakness for the Cardinals and the Mets this year. St. Louisstarters ranked 12th in the National League with a 4.79 ERA during the regularseason. New York starters were slightly better--a 4.67 ERA heading into theplayoffs--but that figure rises to 4.81 when injured starters Orlando Hernandezand Pedro Martinez are removed from the equation. It's safe to say the NLCSwon't feature pitching duels, but the Cardinals have a slight edge inrighthander Chris Carpenter.

BaseballProspectus has developed a statistic called QuikERA (QERA), which predicts thenumber of runs a pitcher should give up based on his strikeout rate, walk rateand ground ball--to--fly ball ratio--the most stable components of pitchingfrom game to game. (A conventional ERA can be a misleading measure of apitcher's skill because the calculation uses runs allowed, which are subject tocircumstance. For example, a pitcher who gives up a lot of hits with runners onbase is going to have a high ERA while a pitcher who allows the same number ofhits with no runners on will have a lower ERA.) QERA demonstrates thatCarpenter (3.01) is the best of the NLCS starters, while his teammate JeffSuppan (5.16) and the Mets' Steve Trachsel (5.72) are good bets tostruggle.

But willCarpenter, who won two games in the Division Series and isn't expected to startuntil Game 3 of the NLCS, be enough to tip the series in St. Louis's favor?BP's guess is no. First, virtually all of the Cardinals' innings will be thrownby righthanded pitchers, and the Mets led the league with a .461 sluggingpercentage against righties this season. Second, New York also led the leaguein bullpen QERA (3.42), and manager Willie Randolph showed during the NLDS thathe knows how to use his relievers, who should be healthy and fully rested afterthe sweep of the Dodgers. Expect St. Louis to win behind Carpenter in Games 3and 6, but New York to prevail in seven.

NLCS STARTERS'QERA

CARDINALS          METS

Carpenter 3.01        Glavine 4.25

Weaver 4.48           Maine4.33

Suppan 5.16           Trachsel5.72

Marquis 5.27          Perez 5.18

AVERAGE 4.48     AVERAGE 4.87

PHOTOPOOL/AFP/GETTY IMAGESQUIK STUDY Glavine is the Mets' ace, but he's no Carpenter.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)