St. Louis Cardinals

Regular season: 90-72, NL wild card.

How they got here: Defeated the Philadelphia Phillies, 3-2, in an NLDS.

Rotation: Jaime Garcia (13-7, 3.56), Edwin Jackson (12-9, 3.79), Chris Carpenter (11-9, 3.45), Kyle Lohse (14-8, 3.39).

Closer: Jason Motte (9 saves in 13 opportunities).

Why they’ll win

The baseball universe has yet to invent a way to kill the Cardinals, who came from 10½ games back in late August to win the wild card, then beat Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Roy Halladay to win their NLDS. They have the deepest, most potent lineup on the NL side of the playoff bracket, the best pitcher in this series in Chris Carpenter and a bullpen that allowed only one earned run in its last eight innings in the division series.

Why they won’t

Carpenter won’t be available in this series until Game 3 — and while the Brewers face the same limitation with their No. 1 starter, Yovani Gallardo, it hurts the Cardinals more, because the drop-off between Carpenter and the other three starters is more severe. The Cardinals will also suffer offensively if Skip Schumaker (strained oblique) is unable to play, while Matt Holliday’s lingering hand injury may have been a factor in his poor showing in the NLDS.

Milwaukee Brewers

Regular season: 96-66, NL Central champions.

How they got there: Defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks, 3-2, in an NLDS.

Rotation: Zack Greinke (16-6, 3.83), Shaun Marcum (13-7, 3.54), Yovani Gallardo (17-10, 3.52), Randy Wolf (13-10, 3.69).

Closer: John Axford (46 saves in 48 opportunities).

Why they’ll win

The Brewers led the majors with 57 home wins in 2011 and won all three games at Miller Park in the NLDS. Even if they come back to Milwaukee down three games to two, they will feel great about their chances. MVP candidates Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun are both coming off big showings in the NLDS, and the bullpen is deep and strong.

Why they won’t

The Brewers don’t have a deep lineup; as any Washington Nationals’ fan knows, a lineup with Nyjer Morgan hitting second and Jerry Hairston fifth is not very good. Also, the Brewers’ lack of a matchup lefty in their bullpen isn’t a huge deal, since the Cardinals have no scary left-handed hitters, but most teams like to turn switch-hitter Lance Berkman around to the right side, which the Brewers won’t be able to do.


Cardinals in 6

They split their season series, but tellingly, the Cardinals won six of the last seven meetings. Ultimately, the depth of the Cardinals’ offense will wear down the Brewers’ pitchers.

— Dave Sheinin