I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I don’t like predictions. I think they are useless, power tripping and maddening bouts of wasted time that ultimately turns out to be futile. However, when I made a guest appearance on the wise Matt Whitener’s podcast this past Thursday, I was asked to make a game by game prediction. While I don’t support making it known, it was hard for me to not think about how this series would play out from the end of Tuesday’s clincher up until 745 when I broke it down on The Cheap Seats show. Now, keeping that exclusive to Matt’s show would be cool and hip, but not beneficial to my readers so here I will break it down with a few extra details. I will go ahead and set Bruce Bochy‘s rotation for him since he hasn’t passed that knowledge onto mlb.com or any other outlet. Without further delay, the Buffa prediction game begins.
Let’s roll on with Game 1. Adam Wainwright and Madison Bumgarner. It was released that during Game 1 of the NLDS Waino experienced the same type of pain he experienced in Tampa Bay during the summer. Nevertheless, he says he is good to go but this is a game where Bumgarner could outduel him over the course of 7-8 innings. Madison had been excellent during the entire second half of the season and only hurt himself in Game 4 of the NLDS when he made a horrible throwing error. The Cards reached him in 2012 for 6 runs in 3.2 innings but he has been lights out since then. I expect Bumgarner and Waino to exit with the game 3-1 Giants after 7 innings. However, the Cards will get to the Giants bullpen and put together a 2 run 8th inning and tie the game on a Matt Holliday two run single. The game will travel to the 9th inning where Carlos Martinez pitch his second inning of work and keep the game tied. In the bottom half, Sergio Romo will take the hill. A reliable closer in 2013 who lost his job to Santiago Casilla in the second half of the season, Romo will get Matt Adams and Yadi Molina out before Jon Jay comes to the plate and is hit by a pitch. Kolten Wong will then step up and bang out a game winning 2 run home run. 5-3 Cards. 1-0 lead.
Game 2 will pit Lance Lynn against Jake Peavy. Young upstart against a grizzly veteran arm. Lynn will outpitch Peavy, who the Cards will smash for 4 runs in the 3rd inning. Lynn will toss 8 innings and allow 2 runs. The Cards will tack on 2 more insurance runs and win 6-2 with Trevor Rosenthal closing down with a few fireworks in the 9th inning. Lynn will suddenly be recognizable to the MLB Network and ESPN(well, for a few seconds here). When I said the NLCS was Lance Lynn’s time to shine, I wasn’t lying. Cards head to SF up 2-0.
Game 3 will have John Lackey taking on Tim Hudson in all likelihood and this is where the Giants will take back a little momentum and edge closer. Lackey won’t be slapped around but the Cards offense will be frozen by the veteran Hudson. Tim had a rough September, putting together an ERA of 8.72 and losing his last four starts. However, the Cards bats don’t stay hot for long and they don’t do anything easy so I see Hudson firing a gritty 6 innings and the Giants getting to Lackey early for 3 runs(via a Michael Morse home run) before the Texan shuts them down for the last 5 innings. The bullpen of San Francisco is handed a 3-0 lead and doesn’t lose it this time. Javier Lopez strikes out Adams with 2 on in the 7th inning and Sergio Romo will pitch a scoreless 8th and Santiago Casilla will shut down the Cards in the 9th. Giants win 3-0 and cut series lead to 2-1 for the Cards. It wasn’t going to be too easy folks.
Game 4 will prove to be a maddening game for Cardinal fans because Shelby Miller is going to duel with Ryan Vogelsong for 5 innings before the Giants break through in the 6th inning when Miller walks 2 and Wong makes a crucial error at second base on a play up the middle. The Giants use the defensive blunder to score 4 runs and the Cards collect 2 hits and a walk against Vogelsong, a middle of the rotation arm who the Birds can’t seem to touch in the postseason. 2012 flashbacks creep in as the journeyman arm shuts down the Cards, pitches a complete game and evens the series at 2-2 with a 4-1 win(one of those hits coming from a solo HR from Matt Carpenter).
Game 5 is going to rock both fanbases as the two teams will engage in a 12 inning war. Waino and Bumgarner will duel closer this time but each will rack up big pitch counts early and only last 6 innings. The game will be scoreless heading into extras with the Cards having stranded 12 baserunners. Marco Gonzales pitches three scoreless frames to get it to the top of the 10th. Carpenter walks, Grichuk singles, but Holliday grounds into a double play to send us to the bottom of the 10th. The Giants strand 2 against Michael Wacha. who pitches a scoreless 11th inning as well. The Cards burned A.J. Pierzynski and Oscar Taveras earlier so Mike Matheny rolls the dice and sends up Tony Cruz to the plate. Cruz, picked the last to succeed on the bench, comes up with a solo home run off Yusmeiro Petit and Rosenthal closes the door in the 12th to give the Cards a 3-2 series lead. Every man now pumps their chest the following day to pay tribute to Cruz’s walk up music, which was Matthew McConaughey’s chest pump from Wolf of Wall Street. This game may kill you.
Game 6 is where the evolution of Lance Lynn comes full circle. He is going to pitch a complete game and close out the series. The Cards will get to Jake Peavy for 3 runs again early(remember the Cards almost traded for this guy) and the game will be in hand down the stretch. Matt Holliday’s three run homer in the first inning will be all Lynn needs to finish it and receive NLCS MVP honors.
That’s it. Short and sweet…kind of. I don’t like prediction games. One bad inning and your whole series is thrown off. Then again, there isn’t a single writer out there who posts an article thinking his words will actually play out every time. It’s fun and it keeps things interesting. I think the Cards win this in six games. Why? Our pitching is just as good and our bullpen is better. Each team is an unlikely NLCS participant so all bets are off.
Are you ready for Game 1? Do your grocery shopping now. Get the slow cookers rolling. Whip the buffalo chicken dip. Set up the cooler. At 7pm, all hell breaks loose again.