In San Francisco, look for the Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals to combine for fewer than 7 runs in game three of the National League Championship Series; take it at 1.87
There are a few good reasons to expect to a low scoring affair in this Tuesday playoff tilt. The first two are the starting pitchers – John Lackey (Cardinals) and Tim Hudson (Giants). These grizzled veterans may have produced somewhat so-so regular seasons (Lackey had a 10-13 record and a 3.82 ERA; Hudson was 9-13 with a 3.57 ERA), but both of these guys know how to ratchet up performance in the playoffs.
Each have thrown once during this post-season and have looked really good doing it. Lackey pitched seven innings, allowing five hits and one run in a matchup against the Los Angeles Dodgers during his team’s National League Division Series, and Hudson held the Washington Nationals to seven hits and one run in 7 1/3 innings of work in his club’s NLDS match-up.
Neither of these performances was an aberration based on these guys’ post-season track record. Lackey has pitched in twenty playoff games and has a lifetime 2.92 ERA over 111 innings pitched. Hudson owns a 3.19 ERA in eleven post-season outings (62 innings pitched).
Throw in the fact that this game will be contested at AT&T Park, which ranked twenty-fourth out of thirty ballparks in run scoring this year, according to ESPN’s MLB Park Factors, and we have the makings of a pitchers’ duel.
Go with the Giants - on at 1.81 - to win at home versus the Cardinals.
With the likelihood of the aforementioned tight pitching battle between the starters, this game is likely to come down to the final innings. While both teams have had moments where their bullpens have faltered in these playoffs, I’m giving the edge here to the Giants.
As far as relief pitching ERA goes, the Giants have the distinct advantage. The club’s relievers ranked fifth in all of Major League baseball in that category. In contrast, the Cardinals finished a middling fourteenth.
In addition, home field advantage will figure in this game. Most notably, the Cardinals were a really weak road team in 2014, registering a 39-42 record anywhere but Busch Stadium. And, of course, having the final at bat in any game is a distinct advantage.
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