Texas’ Nelson Cruz and St. Louis’ Albert Pujols on this week’s covers of Sports Illustrated; SI predicts Rangers in six

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Rangers postseason hero Nelson Cruz graces the national cover of the Oct. 24, 2011, issue of Sports Illustrated — on newsstands Wednesday, Oct. 19 — while Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols appears on a regional cover available in St. Louis and eastern Missouri as well as Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Below is the last time each team appeared on the cover and how many appearances they’ve had overall:

  • Rangers: June 2, 2008 (Josh Hamilton); seventh appearance
  • Cardinals: Aug. 2, 2010 (Stan Musial); 39th appearance

SI contributor Joe Sheehan (@joe_sheehan) predicts that the Rangers will win their first World Series in six games. Sheehan credits both teams for piling up runs and closing out games with lockdown bullpens but says the Rangers have the edge on the mound. He writes (page 44): Their rotation, led by lefthander C.J. Wilson, is a bit better than the Cardinals’, and it matches up well with St. Louis. The Cardinals were able to take advantage of a Brewers staff heavy with fly ball pitchers, and no NL team hit fly ball pitchers better this season than did St. Louis. The Rangers’ starters, save for righthander Colby Lewis, are ground ball pitchers who should do a better job of neutralizing the Cards’ power.”

Will the trend of minimal starting pitching and prolific bashing continue? Rangers G.M. Jon Daniels tells senior writer Tom Verducci (page 40): “It could be more of the same [in the World Series] with these two teams. You still have to think somebody is going to come out one day and go eight innings, give up one run. But I guess you could call me naive for still thinking that. The off days in the postseason allow this [bullpen-heavy] strategy to play out a little more.”


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