Cardinals v Giants
Which pitcher will do a better job of putting his struggles behind him when the San Francisco Giants visit the St. Louis Cardinals in game four of the National League Championship Series on Thursday?
Will it be the Giants’ Tim Lincecum, who between 2008 and 2010 won two Cy Young Awards and finished in the top-ten in Cy Young Award voting two other times, was dismal this season posting a 5.18 ERA? Or will it be the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright, who is coming off of one of the worst performances of his career, getting torched for six runs in 2 1/3 innings in game five of the National League Divisional Series against the Washington Nationals?
Don’t expect either pitcher to throw as bad as those stats suggest. After all Lincecum has thrown 8 1/3 scoreless innings in relief this post-season and Wainwright threw a lot better in game one of the NLDS, allowing just one run and six hits, while striking out ten, in 5 2/3 innings of work.
So who has the edge? I’m going to give it to the Giants and Lincecum. The reason: Lincecum has more to prove after a full season of disappointment. Plus, he’s had some success at Busch Stadium (3-1 with a 3.21 ERA). If Carlos Beltran can’t play (he’s day-to-day with a sprained knee) it will weaken the Cardinals all the more. I’d pick the value in San Francisco at 2.15 instead of St. Louis at 1.70.
Tigers v Yankees
With a rainout in the American League Championship Series on Wednesday, the same pitchers and line ups will go head-to-head for a delayed game four of this series. As a result, the New York Yankees remain the pick for a much-needed win on the road against the Detroit Tigers.
New York manager Joe Girardi has smartly kept his ace CC Sabathia on regular rest so the left-hander should be primed for yet another good performance (in fact, with the rainout, he now has an extra day that should help all the more). He looked at the top of his game against the Baltimore Orioles in the American League Divisional Series, going 17 2/3 innings and allowing just three runs (he also struck out sixteen thanks in large part to his devastating slider/cutter which was breaking hard).
His pitching opponent Max Scherzer put up strong number this season, but he’s a bit of an X-factor as he battled some shoulder soreness late in the season and, as a result, can’t be counted on to necessarily go deep in this game.
With some bullpen problems percolating in the Tigers’ relief corps (closer Jose Valverde has been less than reliable), New York, on at 1.85, should steal this one from Detroit, which can be had for 1.95.