They say pitching and defense wins championships. First, let me point out the starting rotations of the remaining NL teams. I'll leave out the 4th and 5th starters, because at this point they don't matter so much anymore. First listed starter is the guy slated to go first tomorrow (and consequently get himself at least 2 starts in the LCS):
1. Jeff Weaver
2. Jeff Suppan
3. Chris Carpenter
1. Tom Glavine
2. John Maine
3. Steve Trachsel
It doesn't take a brilliant man to see where I'm going with this: these pitching staffs blow. Save for Chris Carpenter (the one legitimate ace), not ONE of these guys posted an ERA of under 3.50 this season; Jeff Weaver (!) posted a robust ERA of over 5 since coming to the Cards. And that's pitching in the National League, where an ERA of 3.50 is roughly equivalent to 4.00-4.50 ERA in the NL (this is just a gut feeling on my part--see Bronson Arroyo).
So tell me, oh wise pundits, why the Mets remain such heavy favorites with the media-types without Pedro and El Duque to give them a semblance of a decent pitching staff. Sure, you can natter on about how Tom Glavine had a renaissance year, John Maine is the real deal, and Steve Trachsel has some veteran presence. Blah, blah, blah. I don't want to hear it. Somehow the Mets regular season record (who went 4-2 against the Cardinals, by the way; hardly a large enough sample to mean anything) and their offense is supposed to carry them through this series. Well, over in the AL we saw just how a great offense can be shut down by pitching (Verlander, Rogers, Bonderman). Now, I'm not saying that the Cardinals have the greatest staff in the world (God knows throwing Jeff Weaver in Game 1 seems like series suicide), but throwing Carpenter and Suppan out there (potentially two times each) gives them a fair chance at sending the Mets home.
I would compare offenses and defenses as well, but thinking too much about the eventual World Series loser makes me weary. Cards (because it's about damn time they made it this far) in 7.