It's time for the start of another Card-Cub weekend series. For my money, there are few better things in sports. Regardless of the standings, these weekend series always prove to be entertaining and exciting. The passion on both sides transcends playoff races and divisional standings.
The most important thing is that the Cards only need one more win against the Cubs to clinch the season series. Right now it stands at 8-5 in favor of the Birds, so it would take a Cub sweep just to pull even. Secondarily, the Cards obviously want to win a couple this weekend at least, to drive that magic number down from 8.
For my money, I hope to see a lot of the Cub bullpen this weekend. I think their starters are much more difficult to score runs off of than their bullpen, so hopefully we can get the starters out of the games fairly early, and take our shots at the Cubbie bullpen.
I know I am getting a little ahead of myself, but I think there will be some interesting roster decisions for the 25 man roster. Personally, I don't want to see the names Joe Thurston or Todd Wellemeyer on a playoff roster, but then, I'm not the one that gets to make those decisions.
The first question will be if LaRussa is going to go with a 12 man or 13 man pitching staff. I would guess 12, and I think 10 of those spots are already set:
Carpenter, Wainwright, Pineiro, Smoltz, Franklin, Reyes, Miller, McClellan, Hawksworth and Motte.
That leaves four names competing for two or possibly three probable spots: Lohse, Boggs, Wellemeyer and Thompson. Lohse is on the bubble entirely because of his injury issues. If he is good to go, I'm sure he'll be there. The other spot is up for grabs. Personally, if it is only two, I would choose Lohse and Boggs from this group.
For the position players, I think there is competition really only for one spot. If Tony goes with a 13 man staff, there will be 12 position spots, and I think 11 are set:
Molina, LaRue, Pujols, Schumaker, Ryan, DeRosa, Lugo, Ankiel, Holliday, Ludwick, Rasmus.
That would leave the last spot between Greene, Thurston and Glaus. I'd imagine with Troy's latest injury setback, he is likely out of the picture. If it comes down to Thurston and Greene, I would pick Greene, but the smart money would be on LaRussa picking Thurston. I think Greene has shown better skills as a pinch hitter and would serve the Cards better in backup role during the playoffs.
My best guess is that TLR goes with a 12 man pitching staff and 13 position players, which would likely put Greene and Thurston on the roster.