For the first time since 2006 (it feels a lot longer than that) The Cardinals find themselves in the National League Championship Series. The Cards stunned the Phillies in Game 5 thanks to another brilliant performance by Chris Carpenter to make it here. Their opponent in the series will be the Milwuakee Brewers who are in the LCS for the first time since 1982. This should be a very interesting series to watch seeing as the two teams are division rivals and have had little sparks flare throughout the season. Here's what I think are the keys to the series for the Redbirds.
1. Win 1 of the first 2 games in Milwaukee If the Cardinals want to have any chance at winning this series in my opinion, they have to get out Milwaukee with at least a split. The Brewers have dominated at Miller Park this year and the "Brew Crew" are undefeated at home this year when Game 1 starter Zack Greinke is pitching. The Cards have been able to sweep the Brewers at Miller Park this year, so the Cards are defiantly capable of picking up a split. If they can go home with the series tied, I really like the Cardinals chances with Carp in Game 3 and Loshe in Game 4.
2. The Bullpen has to keep up the solid relief. One of the biggest surprises of the NLDS was how great the Cardinals Bullpen performed Games 2-5. In Game 2 they were able to completely shut down the Phillies after Carp left after struggling early. The Brewers have one of the best bullpens in Baseball this year so if comes down to the bullpens in a game, the Brewers have the advantage. If the Cards are to win this series, they'll need some help from the bullpen.
3. Keep the offense up and get Holliday, Yadi, and Lance going The Cards had some interesting offensive stars in the LDS, SkipSchumaker and Ryan Theriot both went 6-10 at the plate, and Pujols batted a solid .350 But if the Cards want to keep up with the Brew Crew, the offense is going to need some help from some guy that were mostly cold at the plate against the Phillies. Yadier Molina after having a solid offensive year went 4-19 at the plate against the Phils, while after Lance Berkman hit a towering home run in Game #1 he ended up finishing the series 3-18 at the plate. Matt Holliday missed the first half of the series basically with his hand injury and was 2-9. If the Cards can get these guys going offensively along with Albert we have a good shot at going to the Fall Classic.
Prediction: Cards in 6