This is the annual revival of one of the ’80′s best rivalries. Back when there were only two divisions, these two clubs fought battles for the NL East, with the Cards winning in ‘85 and ‘87 and the Mets winning in ‘86 and ‘88. There was genuine animosity between the two clubs, and the fans in St. Louis were especially hostile (in their peculiarly polite fashion) to the big city Mets.
Though the rivalry has diminished over the past 15 yrs (with the notable exception of the ‘06 NLCS), this week’s series has it’s own spicy subplots. The superb Dave Duncan has once again cobbled together an effective starting staff despite losing his ace, Chris Carpenter. Ryan Ludwick has been hitting the cover off the ball to start the season, providing the game’s best player, Albert Pujols, with some coverage from the clean-up spot. Throw in the Mets’ recent struggles with runners in scoring position and the uneven performances of Oliver Perez and John Maine and there will be plenty of drama in this series.
Despite all of these moving pieces, I think a key to this series will be the change of venue for the Mets. This gives them a chance to get out of town, gather their thoughts, and hopefully relax. I expect that the bats will come around and the Mets will drive in enough of those RISP to win the series.
Series prediction: Mets win, 2-1.