With the Boston Red Sox being crowned World Champions on Wednesday night, here are five observations from their World Series win over the St Louis Cardinals.
1. John Lackey is this year's Barry Zito. Remember last year, when the highly-paid yet extremely disappointing Zito went 2-0 in the Postseason for the Giants, pitching to a 1.69 ERA in three starts and 16 innings? In the Postseason this year, the highly-paid and extremely disappointing Lackey went 3-1 in four starts, pitching to a 2.77 ERA in 26 innings. In the World Series, Lackey had a 2.57 ERA in two starts and one relief appearance. In a Postseason where Clay Buchholz and Ryan Dempster weren't factors and Jake Peavy was awful, Lackey was the stabilizing force for the Red Sox rotation behind Jon Lester, which is a huge shock after he didn't throw a pitch at all in 2012.
2. Michael Wacha is mortal after all. Lost in Wacha's dominant Postseason is the fact that he wasn't that great in the World Series. Wacha's Cardinals won Game 2, but the rookie walked four hitters in six innings and only threw 65 of his 114 pitches for strikes. The bubble officially burst in Game 6, when Wacha got hammered for six runs in 3 2/3 innings, walking four and striking out five. 44 of Wacha's 76 pitches were strikes, and he threw first pitch strikes to just 12 of 21 hitters. Wacha's going to have a bright future in the league, but let's call a spade a spade: he's just 22 years old and still has a lot of growing to do as a pitcher, regardless of how well he pitched in his first three Postseason starts.
3. That whole RISP thing finally fell apart. With runners in scoring position this series, the Cardinals went 9/42 after hitting .330 in the regular season. That drop of over 100 points was a huge blow to their hopes of winning the series, and when you throw in the fact that they had just ten extra base hits over the six games, they were doomed.
4. This is a much different series without David Ortiz. In the series, Ortiz went 11/16 with eight walks, two doubles, and two homers. The rest of the team went 30/178 with 13 walks, seven doubles, and two homers. Other than Ortiz, no Red Sox hitter had a batting average higher than Jacoby Ellsbury's .250, and no hitter had a higher OPS than Ellsbury's .599. Dustin Pedroia had two doubles, the only other Boston hitter with multiple extra base hits. This is a completely different series if Ortiz isn't playing at the level he did – and just think about what their offense would have been like if Mike Napoli hit better than .154/.214/.231 behind Ortiz in the lineup.
5. John Farrell used Koji Uehara impeccably. Well, nearly impeccably. Uehara got action in five out of the six games of this series, with Game 1's blowout being the lone exception. Uehara probably should have started the ninth inning of Game 3, but he was one interference call from getting out of the inning and sending the game to extras. Most managers wouldn't have used Uehara (hello, Fredi Gonzalez) since it wasn't a save situation, but Farrell bucked the trend in an attempt to get the win. Farrell also used Uehara for a four out save in Game 5 (again: hello, Fredi), double switching out David Ortiz in the process. Uehara got the four outs on just 15 pitches, and that was that. For the series, Uehara recorded 14 outs and threw just 54 pitches. It took Clay Buchholz 66 pitches to get 12 outs in Game 4, and it took Jake Peavy 64 pitches to get 12 outs in Game 3. All hail Koji.