For the fourth time in the last 10 seasons, the Cardinals have won the NL pennant. They clobbered the Dodgers by the score of 9-0 in the Game 6 clincher on Friday night, a laugher of an ending to an otherwise awesome series. Depending on the outcome of the ALCS this weekend, we're heading for a rematch of either the 2004 World Series (Cardinals vs. Red Sox) or 2006 World Series (Cardinals vs. Tigers).
With the NLCS wrapped up, let's hand out some grades for the entire six-game series.
|A||It's hard to believe the NLCS MVP didn't even solidify his spot in the Cardinals postseason rotation until his final few starts of the regular season. Michael Wacha threw 13 2/3 scoreless innings across two starts in the NLCS, holding the Dodgers to seven hits and two walks while striking out 13. He has been just marvelous these last few weeks and was very deserving of being named the series MVP.|
|B||Once upon a time, there were very public questions about Zack Greinke's ability to pitch in the spotlight, which of course seems pretty silly right now. The $147 million man held the Cardinals to two runs in each of his two NLCS starts, going eight innings first time and seven innings the second time (while facing elimination). Greinke struck out 14, walked two and allowed only 10 hits. He was everything Los Angeles asked him to be when they handed him that fat contract over the winter.|
|C+||With an .899 OPS, Carlos Beltran had the second lowest OPS in an individual playoff series (not counting last year's wild-card game, which technically wasn't a series) of his career in the NLCS. That's pretty staggering. I'm giving him a C+ because during the four games between his walk-off hit in Game 1 and his three-hit effort in Game 6, Beltran only had one hit in 16 plate appearances. So yeah, he was good, but it was a top-heavy performance, if that makes sense. He bunched his production up into two games.|
|D||Considering he allowed just one unearned run in six innings in his Game 2 start, Kershaw had to be pretty terrible in Game 6 to earn a D for the series. And he was pretty terrible -- seven runs on 10 hits and two walks in only four innings. Yasiel Puig's poor throws have been getting all of the attention for the Cardinals' four-run third inning, but Kershaw was unable to put away whatever's left of David Freese, the left-handed hitting Matt Adams and fifth outfielder Shane Robinson with two outs to stop the bleeding. Kershaw clearly wasn't himself in the series finale and the Dodgers were going to have little chance if that happened.|
|F||The non-game stuff in this series gets a big fat F. These were two great teams locked in an intense series (until the blowout in Game 6, obviously) with exciting young players like Wacha, Puig, Trevor Rosenthal and Kenley Jansen. Instead of being able to focus on that, the two clubs traded barbs -- whether it be Adam Wainwright's "Mickey Mouse" remark or the stand-off prior to Game 6 -- and took attention away from everything that was happening on the field. It was pretty disappointing the games on the field were overshadowed like they were.|