In San Francisco, look for the Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals to score more than 7 runs in game four of their National League Championship Series - take it at 1.77
The combination of taxed bullpens and two so-so starters give the respective lineups in this Wednesday game a distinct advantage.
The Cardinals will go with Shelby Miller as their starting pitcher for this game. He was a solid – if unspectacular starter – this year, posting a 3.74 ERA. Still, his success seems a bit more down to luck than anything. Miller’s fielding independent pitching (FIP), which is a statistic scaled like ERA but is considered a better indicator of performance, was 4.54. This suggests he’s been dodging bullets most of the year and that is bound to catch up to him. In addition, Miller’s road work (4.14 ERA) wasn’t as good as his results at home (3.41).
Giants’ pitcher Ryan Vogelsong had a worse ERA this year – 4.00 – but his FIP was better 3.85. Nevertheless, neither number is earth-shattering. While Vogelsong pitched well in his only post-season appearance so far (5 2/3 innings; 2 runs allowed versus the Los Angeles Dodgers), he was terrible to end the season, going 0-4 with a 5.53 ERA. This suggests the one bit of playoff work is more an aberration as Vogelsong has otherwise been on a slide.
Beyond the starters, another concern here will be the bullpens. The Giants’ is generally good and the Cardinals middling. But neither corps will be rested. In game three yesterday, each team used four relief pitchers in a 10-inning contest. As neither starter completed a full six innings in their last outing, the bullpens will likely be called, but will unlikely be at their best due to fatigue.
Take the Giants - on at 1.83 - to win at home versus the Cardinals in this NLCS match up.
Read just about any story breaking down the post-season this year and the word that will come up is unpredictable. It’s been a run of very odd results. As a result, I’ve started (with much better success), picking games more from the gut – and based more on momentum – than the usual stat-hound analysis I’m accustomed to offering.
The Giants pulled out a dramatic extra-inning win yesterday and benefit greatly from home field advantage. Both teams, as discussed, will have tired relievers, but the Giants have an objectively better group. So if everyone is tired, take the team with the better guys.