Friday, October 10, 2014

Thoughts on the 2014 NLCS: Pitching Matchups

If the Giants and Cardinals are pretty much even-steven on the position side of the roster ledger, they are just as much so on the pitching side with one possibly important exception.  Again, both teams feature depth rather than superstar firepower, although Adam Wainwright and Madison Bumgarner would be considered aces on most pitching staffs.  Here's how they match up:

Starting Pitchers:

Adam Wainwright(Cards)- 20-9, 2.38, 227 IP, 50 BB, 179 K, 7.10 K/9, 1.98 BB/9, 46.3% GB.
Madison Bumgarner(Giants)- 18-10, 2.98, 217.1 IP, 43 BB, 219 K, 9.07 K/9, 1.78 BB/9, 44.4% GB.

Personally, I would start the more well rested Peavy in Game 1 and give Bumgarner the extra day off for Game 2.  They could both still start 2 games in the series if necessary.  I just believe the extra day of rest is critical at this time of year.  Wainwright did not fare well in Game 1 of the NLDS in LA and there are rumors of some elbow trouble.  I did not see most of that game, but the little I did showed his FB velocity at 89 which seems slow for Waino, so there might be something to it.  On the other hand, his poor performance there might have just been due to the weather.  The Giants have gotten to Waino from time to time in the past, so this one is very winnable.  Again, a key for Bummy is to get out of the first inning unscathed.

Lance Lynn(Cards)- 15-10, 2.74, 203.2 IP, 72 BB, 181 K, 8.00 K/9, 3.18 BB/9, 44.3 GB%.
Jake Peavy(Giants)- 6-4, 2.17, 78.2 IP, 17 BB, 58 K, 6.64 K/9, 1.94 BB/9, 37.6 GB%

Obviously, Peavy's numbers are just for his time with the Giants.  Lynn is a big workhorse, but as you can see from his walk rates, he can get a bit wild.  Has had a tendency to give up big innings in the past.  Peavy has been nails since coming over to the Giants and wants to win another ring with Bruce Bochy and help get the skipper into the HOF.  I'm going to say I like this matchup for the Giants.

John Lackey(Cards)- 3-3, 4.30, 60.2 IP, 15 BB, 48 K, 7.12 K/9, 2.23 BB/9, 38.9 GB%.
Tim Hudson(Giants)- 9-13, 3.57, 189.1 IP, 34 BB, 120 K, 5.70 K/9, 1.62 BB/9, 53.1 GB%.

Don't let the numbers on Lackey fool you.  This guy has been turning it on in the postseason like forever.  Anybody still remember the 2002 WS?  He's big, ugly, mean and nasty.  That's just who he is, and you don't want to face him in the postseason.  Huddy is a pretty fierce competitor himself, and has benefitted from the extended rest from breaks between series.  Should be a fierce battle.  I'll call it even.

Shelby Miller(Cards)- 10-9, 3.74, 183 IP, 73 BB, 127 K, 6.25 K/9, 3.59 BB/9, 39.9 GB%.
Ryan Vogelsong(Giants)- 8-13, 4.00, 184.2 IP, 58 BB, 151 K, 7.36 K/9. 2.83 BB/9, 38.4 GB%

Miller has a 2.92 ERA in the second half.  Vogey should benefit from the extended rest and has a track record of being a strong postseason competitor.  Another good matchup possibly slightly favoring Miller although Vogey should never be counted out of any competition.

Long Relief/Reserve Starter:

Michael Wacha(Cards)- 5-6, 3.20, 107 IP, 33 BB, 94 K, 7.91 K/9, 2.78 BB/9, 41.6 GB%.
Yusmeiro Petit(Giants)- 5-5, 3.69, 117 IP, 22 BB, 133 K, 10.23 K/9, 1.69 BB/9, 35.5 GB%.

Wacha did not pitch in the NLDS.  We all know what Petit did!  Petit's numbers are dominant, but if his command is not perfect, he gets burned by the long ball.


Trevor Rosenthal(Cards)- 2-6, 3.20, 70.1 IP, 42 BB, 87 K, 11.13 K/9, 5.37 BB/9, 38.0 GB%.
Santiago Casilla(Giants)- 3-3, 1.70, 58.1 IP, 15 BB, 45 K, 6.94 K/9, 2.31 BB/9, 56.3 GB%.

Rosenthal has the classic huge fastball that closers are expected to have, but can be wild as a hare.  Casilla gets the job done, and maybe better, with a variety of pitches.  He can rare back and throw it past you when he needs to also.  The key for Casilla is getting his first strike early in the appearance.  Once he gets that, he settles right down and gets it done.  I have no concerns about Casilla as closer.  I think Rosenthal is susceptible to a meltdown inning.  We'll see if it happens.


Pat Neshek(Cards)- 7-2, 1.87, 67.1 IP, 9 BB, 68 K, 9.09 K/9, 1.20 BB/9, 34.7 GB%.
Sergio Romo(Giants)- 6-4, 3.72, 58.0 IP, 12 BB, 59 K, 9.16 K/9, 1.86 BB/9, 36.8 GB%.

Neshek has a very funky delivery that the Giants did not see well during the regular season.  He'll be a tough customer.  Romo seems to have gotten most of his mojo back, but still struggles a bit against LH batters.

Carlos Martinez(Cards)- 2-4, 4.03, 89.1 IP, 36 BB, 84 K, 8.46 K/9, 3.63 BB/9, 51.2 GB%.
Hunter Strickland(Giants)- 1-0, 0.00, 7 IP, 0 BB, 9 K, 11.57 K/9, 0 BB/9, 56.3 GB%.

These are regular season stats only.  Martinez seems to be better suited for relief and has elite velocity with a GB tendency.  He can get wild.  Bochy seems to have handed over 7'th inning duties to Strickland who also has elite velocity, but may be experience challenged.  Please, Boch!  Don't let him throw a FB strike to Matt Carpenter or Matt Adams!

Seth Maness(Cards)- 6-4, 2.91, 80.1 IP, 11 BB, 55 K, 6.16 K/9, 1.23 BB/9, 56 GB%.
Jean Machi(Giants)- 7-1, 2.58, 66.1 IP, 18 BB, 51 K, 6.92 K/9, 2.44 BB/9, 52 GB%.

Maness is a classic GB machine.  Machi pitched great all season, but seemed to wear down a bit at the end of the season.  Has Bochy lost faith in him, or does he just have a mancrush on Strickland?

Marco Gonzalez(Cards)- 4-2, 4.15, 34.2 IP, 21 BB, 31 K, 8.05 K/9, 5.45 BB/9, 36.3 GB%.
Jeremy Affeldt(Giants)- 4-2, 2.28, 55.1 IP, 14 BB, 41 K, 6.67 K/9, 2.28 BB/9, 66.7 GB%.

Gonzalez was a different pitcher when he came back in late August posting a 2.18 ERA.  He's a lefty who can go multiple innings which could be quite valuable against the Giants.  Wow!  I did not realize that Affeldt had that extreme a GB rate!  Affeldt has come up big in 2 WS runs and I see no reason why he won't this time except that the Cardinals' lineup leans RH.  Advantage Giants except their lineup is more vulnerable to a lefty reliever.

Randy Choate(Cards)- 2-2, 4.50, 36.0 IP, 13 BB, 32 K, 8.00 K/9, 3.25 BB/9, 61.1 GB%.
Javier Lopez(Giants)- 1-1, 3.11, 37.2 IP, 19 BB, 22 K, 5.26 K/9, 4.54 BB/9, 65.8% GB%.

Both Choate and Lopez pitched to far less than 3 batters per appearance, so they are both strictly lefty specialists.  Lopez has had his troubles finding home plate but still has the elite GB%.  Probably even except again, the Giants have more LH batters in the lineup.

Wild Card:

Tim Lincecum- 12-9, 4.74, 155.2 IP,  63 BB, 134 K, 7.75 K/9, 3.64 BB/9, 47.3 GB%.

Frankly, I'm not sure why Timmy is on the NLCS roster.  He did not appear at all in the NLDS, including the 19 inning marathon.  I think that tells you all you need to know about how much faith Bochy has in him.  Juan Gutierrez wore down at the end of the season, but should be rested now.  Erik Cordier has elite-plus velocity.  I would rather have one of them or Kontos on the roster.  We'll see if Timmy can ride to the rescue like he did in 2012 one more time, but I have my doubts.

The Cardinals left LHP Sam Freeman off the postseason roster so they could roster, get this, AJ Pierzynski!  Now if this isn't Mike Matheny trolling the Giants, I don't know what is.  Word is he just wants another usable LH bat off the bench, so is carry 3 catchers.  LOL!

This series could come down to how both managers deploy their pitchers, particularly the relievers in the middle-late innings.  Gotta give Bochy a big advantage in that department.


  1. Good calls, DocB. I think the Giants can get to a less than full strength Wainwright, though it might take a few innings. They are very good at working pitchers in the playoffs. Lackey and Miller have proven to be tough on the Giants. Lynn can be broken down by walks and mistakes. The bullpens will used effectively by both managers and will keep both teams in games until the final out. The key as always is for the Giants pitchers to keep it close, until the offense kicks in or the pressure yields mistakes.

  2. and with the royals/o's game tonite, right out the window goes the theory that long layoffs kill the bats

    royals are hungry

    not carrying an extra lefty from the pen may end up hurting the cards....we shall see


    1. BigB, the Royals are the one team I don't want to play in the WS. Speed kills.

    2. To say nothing of the Royals seeming to be the Team of Destiny this year.

      A Giants-Royals series would be so sweet for those of us hoping to give some of the Fangraphs writers a serious comeuppance, though.

  3. here is probably the best piece i have ever read on what it means to be a fan....and also why the royals may indeed have the magic to win it all this season

    dare you not to shed a tear