In Washington, look for the Nationals and the San Francisco Giants to score more than 7 runs in game two of the National League Division Series. Take it at 1.87.
This pick may seem a bit crazy. After all, Washington’s starter Jordan Zimmermann enters this game coming off a no-hitter. But I’m wondering whether Zimmerman is a ticking time bomb for this Saturday tilt. It’s very common for pitchers to come off no-hit achievements and struggle in their next start. There are two primary reasons for this. First, it is an emotional experience to register this feat. Granted, he’s now entering the playoffs where he should be highly motivated, but having navigated through such a monumental game, often leaves players a bit psychologically spent.
Beyond what’s between the ears, there’s also the wear and tear of throwing a no-hitter. Zimmermann threw more than 100 pitches and, even looking past his special win on the final day of the season, Zimmermann was used heavily down the stretch. In fact three of his highest pitch counts all season came in his final four games. The upshot is he might not be a sharp as normally expected.
His pitching opposition, Tim Hudson, has even bigger issues. The 39-year-old veteran has faded mightily at the end of the 2014 campaign. In his final four games, he went 0-4 with an 8.64 ERA. Admittedly, Hudson did have two good starts against Washington this season, but his recent track record drives my thoughts on this.
Take the Los Angeles Dodgers, on at 1.57, to win at home versus the St. Louis Cardinals.
Throughout the past few seasons, I’ve consistently sided with Zack Greinke when he’s pitched at home. Almost without fail he’s delivered. I don’t see any reason to stop that approach now. The man has been a beast at his own stadium throughout his career. This year was no different. Greinke logged a 10-2 record and a 2.55 ERA at Dodger Stadium. He wasn’t bad on the road (7-6 with a 2.86 ERA), but clearly he had a nose for wins at Chavez Ravine.
The Cardinals’ Lance Lynn has delivered a strong regular season (15-10 with a 2.74 ERA), but there are a couple of issues with him that give me pause. The first is that his numbers are better than his pitched according to Fielding Independent Pitching, which is a statistic scaled like ERA but tends to reflect performance better. Lynn’s FIP this year was 3.35. This suggests luck has been a bit of his friend this year – something that can shift quickly.
Another issue with the St. Louis starter is his post season record. The man has seen action is twenty-one playoff contests and owns an underwhelming 4.81 ERA. In the NLDS, he possesses a 9.39 ERA in four appearances.