Major League Baseball

2011 NLCS Prediction & Preview – Inside The Wheelhouse

Albert Pujols and Allen CraigThe 2011 Major League Baseball season is now down to the final four teams to crown its World Champion for the 2011 campaign. The right to represent their respective league in the World Series is the final step before playing for it all. Which of these two teams, the Milwaukee Brewers and the St. Louis Cardinals will earn the right to represent the National League in the 2011 World Series and be crowned National League Champions?

Milwaukee Brewers vs. St. Louis Cardinals

The National League Central Division will hold the host of the 2011 National League Champion no matter what happens now in the National League Championship Series as it is down to the Milwaukee Brewers and the St. Louis Cardinals. It’s no real surprise that the Milwaukee Brewers have made it to this point in the Postseason; they were the 2nd best team (record wise) in the National League for 2011. While it may not be surprising that the Brewers are this far it is very surprising the Cardinals are here, a team who was 10 ½ games back in the Wild Card on August 26th, a team who made it into the playoffs on the last day of the season and a team who beat the odds on favorite Philadelphia Phillies in the NLDS to advance to the NLCS.

Besides the fact that the winner of this series moves onto the World Series, there may be more underlying pressure in this series that proves these two teams as winners in the off-season. This series very well could play into the hands of who retains their star first baseman in the off-season. I believe whoever wins this series will have a much easier task of re-signing either Prince Fielder of the Brewers or Albert Pujols of the Cardinals in the 2011 off-season.

This is the time of the year where soon-to-be free agents playing in postseason baseball have to be sold on staying on their respect ball clubs. In 2005, despite making it to the World Series, the Astros were unable to re-sign Carlos Beltran, in 2010, despite making it to the World Series; the Texas Rangers were unable to re-sign Cliff Lee. The track record history may not prove into the winner of the National League Championship’s favor, but it certainly can lend a hand in the process.

The best thing about the 2011 National League Championship Series is that these two teams are division rivals and have played each other eighteen times in the 2011 campaign already. These types of matchups usually lead to even better Championship Series matchups. There is real hatred between these two teams & their fans; it should prove to be a very fun and energetic seven game series to crown the NL Champ.

As for the 2011 season series itself, the Brewers and Cardinals each won 9 of the 18 games they played against one another this season, splitting the season series. What may play into the Cardinals favor is that despite splitting the season series the Cards won six of the last seven against the Brewers including a three game sweep at Miller Park in late-August. Miller Park is not an easy ballpark to play in and therefore the Cardinals have a slight edge when you look at it from that advantage point.

It’s not like either one of these teams lacks momentum or one team has more momentum then the other either. The Brewers & the Cardinals both played in tight Game 5’s to get to the NLCS. The momentum swings they are both on right now parallel one another that you can’t pick a favorite on momentum alone.

When it comes to other comparisons these teams are still even the more similar. The starting rotations are both similar in the fact that from their ace to their 4th starter they are a good rotation. Besides the Phillies, these two teams might have the 2nd & 3rd best rotations in the National League, flip-flop whoever you want in the one & two spots.

Then there is their lineups, both coveted by a “big 3” charge. In St. Louis you have Pujols, Berkman & Holliday. In Milwaukee you have Fielder, Braun & Weeks. The role players on both sides are both shockingly similar with guys like Morgan & Hart in Milwaukee and Furcal & Freese in St. Louis. Everything we have discussed in this blog thus far makes these two teams so similar in successes it’s amazing.

The one thing that may not give one team over another is the Managers on both teams. You have a Hall-of-Fame manager in Tony LaRussa for the Cardinals and the first year manager Ron Roenicke managing the Brew crew. The edge clearly goes to LaRussa as he has been here before, played in a Championship Series and has one multiple World Series Champions. But it’s not like Roenicke has never been a coach in a high pressure situation as he was with the Angels organization as a base coach & bench coach up until taking the Brewers job, so don’t take anything away from Roenicke either but LaRussa has the edge.

This series is going to go seven games. It’s going to be intense, it’s going to be fun to watch and it’s going to be a series that Baseball fans will enjoy watching & talking about for a long time. There is no real distinct advantages between these two teams right now, this is a series with no favorite, the one with the most competitive drive & heart will represent the NL in the World Series. I expect this one to be a classic and one I look very forward to watching.

Prediction: Brewers win series 4-3

Join Bower, “The Sweet Nasty” Chris Cause & myself every Sunday for more NFL & Fantasy Football talk over at www.wheelhouseradio.com!

Jeff Peck is the producer for the “Wheelhouse Radio” program that airs every Sunday at www.wheelhouseradio.com.

Jeff also co-hosts “The Still Real to us show” with Eric Gargiulo which can be available at www.wheelhouseradio.com and can be downloaded in the “Real Guy Radio” section of the site.

You can follow “The Champ Jeff Peck” on Twitter at www.twitter.com/therealjeffpeck you can also follow Wheelhouse Radio on twitter at www.twitter.com/thewheelhouse and you can e-mail them @ wheelhouseradio@gmail.com

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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