MLB: NLCS-St. Louis Cardinals at Los Angeles Dodgers

Greetings and welcome to another edition of the Getting Blanked podcast! In the heart of the League Championship series, baseball fans are spoiled with more close, exciting baseball games than we know what to do with.

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This week’s guest is Will Leitch, senior writer for Sports On Earth and host of the Will Leitch Experience podcast. Will is also the unofficial communications officer for Cardinals Nation, speaking on our about the state of Cardinals fandom with great regularity.

Off the top, I mention how impressed I am with the Red Sox bench. The Sox are arguably the deepest team still playing baseball, as their bench gives them options – either in late-game situations or in search of a platoon edge – the the other LCS teams simply do not.

The Sox bench features viable hitters, guys who could actually play for aother teams. Against Justin Verlander, manager John Farrell opted to start Jonny Gomes over switch hitter Daniel Nava. The simple L/R splits suggest this was a gamble, but we have to believe Farrell and the Red Sox coaches acted upon information that goes deeper than simple pitcher handedness.

The move didn’t pay immediate dividends, though Gomes picked up a hit and saw 20 pitches, second most on the team. It says a lot about the Sox that they even have the flexibility to make such a move, to insert a player like Gomes into the lineup while still having legit options like Xander Bogaerts and Mike Carp on the bench. It is a luxury the other teams cannot afford.

The Cardinals got a great contribution from Shane Robinson last night but it was noteworthy in its rarity. Kolton Wong is a rookie in the truest sense, a September call-up who never really got significant playing time at the big league level. The Pete Kozma/Daniel Descalso shortstop setup is more a lesser of two evils situation, with Kozma providing great defense but struggling at the plate while Descalso is best known for his flexibility…and that’s about it.

The Dodgers bench is long on flexible players but short on legit options. The injuries to Hanley Ramirez and Andre Ethier loom large, as the options behind those two stars are grim indeed. The Tigers options are so limited that Austin Jackson is irreplaceable at this point, even while looking completely lost at the plate. Stars and scrubs versus a high talent floor – it is a great debate about roster constitution and being built to last versus winning series. All four teams would much rather count on their best players than trying to rub two pennies together in search of a spark.

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