The Commish Online                                                                                
2005 MLB Playoffs
NLCS Preview
October 12, 2005

Pitching is the dominating subject of the NLCS, with the like of Clemens, Carpenter, Pettitte, Lidge, Mulder, and Oswalt, but that doesn't mean the games will all be 1-0.  In a nutshell, both teams have good to great pitching (a slight advantage to Houston), but only one team puts an offense capable of hitting great pitching.  That team is the St. Louis Cardinals, and they will beat the Astros is less than dramatic fashion.

Don't get me wrong - Houston has a fine squad and is fully deserving of its place in the NLCS.  In fact, I think both leagues have their 2 best teams still left in the playoffs.  From top to bottom, however, St. Louis is the better team, explaining the 11 game difference in the standings.

While the Astros have constructed a starting staff who could contend with any in recent memory, the offense falls just a bit short.  Biggio, Bagwell, and Berkman would be intimidating in the right year, but in 2005, the "Killer B's" just don't carry the same sting.  Morgan Ensberg is making people pitch to Berkman more, but Albert Pujols he is not.

Still, Houston has allowed just over 600 runs during the season, best in the majors this year, so they have done a good job keeping themselves in the ballgame.  St. Louis is right behind, though, with just 25 more runs given up this year.  The difference maker?  The Cardinals scored 805 runs to Houston's 693.

I foresee Houston's fantastic pitching being good for at least one victory, but Phil Garner will not be able to use Brad Lidge as much as hoped, with the Cardinals offense making it difficult for the Astros to build an early lead.

Two games will be close and three will not.  Houston will not lose any games due to any boneheaded plays; rather, they will simply be outslugged by Pujols, Edmonds, and the rest of the Redbird lineup.  The season will end for the Astros in Game 5, where the Cardinals will use that bandbox in Houston to their full advantage, punishing the ball in a decisive 5-game series victory.
Prediction: Cardinals in 5

Check out TCO's 2005 Season Preview for an April flashback to see how well The Commish predicted this season's outcomes.