The 2011 World Series is set to open up on Wednesday night, as the Texas Rangers head to St. Louis to take on the Cardinals.
Texas will send C.J. Wilson to the mound to start Game 1, despite a disastrous postseason so far. In 15.2 innings, spanning three postseason starts, Wilson has surrendered 16 runs (14 earned) on 21 hits, while walking eight and striking out 17. Those numbers translate to an ugly 1.85 WHIP, .318 BAA and 8.04 ERA.
Needless to say, the Rangers are going to need Wilson to pitch like the top of the rotation pitcher he was during the regular season, when he finished up with a 1.19 WHIP, .232 BAA and 2.94 ERA.
Wilson is going to be challenged more than he was in the ALDS or ALCS too, as the Cardinals' lineup is superior to that of both the Rays and the Tigers. Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Lance Berkman and NLCS MVP David Freese combine for a pretty daunting heart of the order.
St. Louis, meanwhile, will be sending their No. 1 start to the mound in Chris Carpenter. Carpenter has had an inconsistent year, posting a 3.45 ERA, .264 BAA and 1.26 WHIP in the regular season -- certainly not ace-like numbers, and certainly not Carpenter's best work.
Since the All-Star Break, though, Carpenter has been much better, posting a 2.98 ERA and .249 BAA.
The postseason has represented Carpenter's inconsistent play in 2011 pretty well. Carpenter only lasted three innings in his first start in Game 2 of the NLDS against the Phillies, but that start did come on short rest -- the first time in Carpenter's career he pitched on short rest. Carpenter then outdueled Roy Halladay in Game 5 of the NLDS, pitching a complete game, three hit shutout, single handedly pitching the Cardinals into the NLCS.
Carpenter's lone NLCS start came in Game 3 against the Brewers, where he surrendered three runs on six hits while walking three and striking out three.
Regardless of which Carpenter shows up for the Cardinals tonight, the Rangers' bats will have to keep pressure on the Cardinals and Carpenter. Texas manager Ron Washington is considering moving Nelson Cruz up in the lineup, which is certainly something that could pay dividends for the Rangers.
First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CT from Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Televised coverage can be found nationally on FOX.