Originally posted on The Sports Post  |  Last updated 10/20/13
Back on October 11, I wrote that the St. Louis Cardinals would take out the Dodgers in six games. After Friday's anti-climactic conclusion, here we sit.  Are we the least bit surprised St. Louis is headed back to another World Series? We shouldn't be. After all, this season marks their fourth appearance since 2004. What may surprise us, however, is how they did it. Yes, the Cardinals took Game 6 in convincing fashion, embarrassing the Dodgers to the tune of 9-0. However, they did this in large part against Clayton Kershaw, arguably the best pitcher in the game today. In Game 2, the Cardinals defeated the Dodgers 1-0 with Kershaw on the mound. However, the loss was hardly on him. He tossed 6 innings, surrendered 2 hits (the only hits of the game for St. Louis) and allowed one unearned run. Yes, the run was because of an error, the Dodgers lost 1-0, and Kershaw was credited with the loss. I know, I don't understand it either. Friday night was a different story altogether. Kershaw recorded 12 outs in the game, meaning he didn't even make it out of the fifth inning. Through 4 innings, Kershaw surrendered 10 hits, 7 runs (all earned), struck out 5 and walked 2. It was as uncharacteristic a start as you were ever likely to see. As for the support around him, there wasn't any. Yasiel Puig had a night to forget as he committed two errors, while the offense only managed to scrape together a couple of hits.  For Dodgers fans and players alike, all I can say is “Mama said there'll be days like this.” To put it in perspective, the Dodgers were 29-40 on June 19, good enough for eight games back in the NL West. They rebounded tremendously, going 63-30 to finish 92-70 on the season and win the West by eleven games. This season was something positive to build on for LA.  If Puig doesn't fall into a sophomore slump, Matt Kemp stays healthy, and they are able to get the same level of production out of their starting rotation, next year could be very special. Michael Wacha, drafted with the pick St. Louis obtained when Albert Pujols signed with the Los Angeles Angels, is the talk of not only St. Louis but the baseball world. Enough about the Dodgers, though. How about those St. Louis Cardinals? More specifically, how about Michael Wacha? Michael Wacha is 22 years old. He was drafted with the pick St. Louis obtained when Albert Pujols signed with the Los Angeles Angels. Imagine that. Suddenly, he's the talk of not only St. Louis but the baseball world. In nine regular season starts for St. Louis, Wacha showcased his worth compiling an ERA/WHIP of 2.78/1.09 over 64.2 innings. His strikeout total compared to walks was equally impressive as he struck out 65 and only walked 19. By the time the postseason rolled around, Wacha was well-rested, and he wasted no time in showcasing himself once again. Wacha got the start in games 2 and 6 of the NLCS. In Game 2 he tossed 6.2 innings of scoreless baseball, surrendered just 5 hits, struck out 8 and only walked 1. In Game 6 he was more effective and efficient, tossing 7 scoreless innings, surrendering just 2 hits, striking out 5 and again only walking 1. Those two performances proved to be more than enough, and Wacha was presented as the 2013 NLCS MVP. Now, the St. Louis Cardinals begin to prepare for something they are very familiar with. They have until Wednesday to soak in the glory of yet another NLCS title, but best believe they will be all business from pitch one of Game 1.  Behind Wainwright and Wacha, the rotation appears to be stronger than ever. With them comes a bullpen full of young flamethrowers. Take those elements and mix them with the veteran leadership of Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina, and you've got the recipe for success. October 23 is only a few days away, and right now it's the same old song and dance in St. Louis.

This article first appeared on The Sports Post and was syndicated with permission.

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