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Wednesday’s ALDS/NLDS Probables

October 10, 2012

Baseball, Features

Editor’s note: Andrew Ware’s contribution is BAL/NYY and WSH/STL. Stefan Jagot’s contribution is OAK/DET and CIN/SF.

ALDS Game 3: Series tied 1-1 (TBS 7:37 pm)

Miguel Gonzalez (BAL) v Hiorki Huroda (NYY)

Miguel Gonzalez

Like much of the rest of the Baltimore Orioles Miguel Gonzalez has no postseason experience. Gonzalez made his first start for the Orioles back in July and has been pretty solid since being moved up from Triple A ball. While this is Gonzalez’s first season in the major he seemed to handle himself pretty well. He posted a 9-4 record with a 3.25 ERA in just half a season which shows that Gonzalez has the ability to hang in the game. He has posted a 2-0 record against the Yankees this season showing that he knows the hitters on the Yankees and that he knows how to handle them. In his last start on Oct. 2 Gonzalez went 6.1 scoreless innings with 7 strikeouts and 2 hits. Gonzalez is probably one of Baltimore’s better starters and on a roll with 4 wins in his last 6 starts.

Hiroki Kuroda

His opponent is Hiorki Kuroda who is 2-1 in the postseason in his career is making his first postseason start for the Yankees since being signed by the Yankees in January from the Dodgers. Kuroda has been a middle of the road pitcher, not really making a big splash in wins. He stayed fairly consistent going 16-11 and posting a pretty good 3.32 ERA for the season. However, if the past is any indication the way Kuroda pitches during the season says nothing about how he will pitch in the post season. In 2008 Kuroda went 9-10 and then threw two really good games in the postseason. In his last start Kuroda pitched against the struggling Red Sox, and still had an impressive outing. He pitched 7 innings allowing 2 runs on 7 hits with 4 strikeouts.

Overall:

If Kuroda lives up to his postseason name that he had with the Dodgers this could be a nice match-up. The fact that Kuroda has homefield advantage could be considered a win for Kuroda. That is if Gonzalez hadn’t proved earlier this season that he can win on the road in New York. With both of Gonzalez’s New York wins coming there. The only problem for Gonzalez, that I see, would be his lack of postseason experience. As many of us have seen the postseason is an entirely different animal than the regular season especially when it comes to pitching. It seems that we are headed for a good pitchers dual with both these guys going into the 6th or 7th inning and making a big impact on this game.

ALDS Game 4: DET leads 2-1 (TBS 9:07)

 A.J. Griffin (OAK) v. Max Scherzer (DET)

A.J. Griffin

No surprise here but, A.J. Griffin is not a household name, by no means is that reason to count him or Oakland out of this one though. The 24-year-old righty has a 7-1 regular season record, and very respectable 3.06 ERA. With the home crowd behind him, and momentum seemingly on Oakland’s side, the pressure of an elimination game will not be as much of an issue for him.

What he has going against him is that in 15 starts he has given up 10 homeruns, and we don’t need to go in detail about the power that the exists in the 3-4 spot for Detroit. He will have to have extreme focus when facing Cabrera and Fielder tonight. Which means that he must not get runners on prior to the two. That will be crucial if he is going to have success against the Tigers.

With his focus being control pitching rather than power, this won’t be a huge issue heading into tonight’s must-win. But if he doesn’t have his curveball tonight, his 90 MPH fastball won’t be enough to keep the bats at bay.

Max Scherzer

Max Scherzer has flown under the radar this season, but his numbers are ones to be reckoned with. The righty managed to record 231 strikeouts this season, and kept his ERA at a respectable 3.74. The reason no one has talked about him in greater regard is because he is second-fiddle in Detroit with Justin Verlander being the ace that he is.

However, tonight is Max’s time to shine. The Tigers are up 2-1 and after last nights offensive drought, Detroit will look to him to end things before a winner-take-all game 5. His power pitching aresenal of a 2-seam fastball and slider will be key, especially against left-handed batters. The pitching style of Scherzer would definitely be better off in the cold city of Detroit, but with the line up for Oakland being fully capable of swining and missing, look for Mad Max to record plenty of K’s and ideally keeping the ball in the park.

At the same time Oakland will have their opportunities with Scherzer, if he misses his location or hangs his slider to left-handed batters Oakland will capitilize on Max.

Overall:

Both of these pitchers face immense pressure from their clubs, Detroit wants to move on to the ALCS tonight, and Oakland needs to win to stay alive. If this isn’t enough to motivate the two, then I don’t know what is. This is a tough one to call, two pitchers of two different disciplines; Scherzer is pure power, and Griffin is more focused on movement. The point-of-emphasis will be mistake free pitching as much as possible.

Scherzer has been a workhorse all season, and tonight might be the night we see the wheels fall off. He has a history of getting lit up by opposing teams, and tonight may very well be one of those nights. Key will be getting the first few innings behind him without damage. For Griffin the task will be focusing on his match-up’s between Miguel and Prince, if he can do that then it is his game to lose. I like A.J. Griffin and the Oakland A’s to send this one to a game 5, where Justin Verlander will be asked to get the job done for Detroit (good luck).

NLDS Game 3: Series tied 1-1 (TBS 1:07)

Chris Carpenter (STL) v Edwin Jackson (WAS)

Chris Carpenter

This has been a throw-away season for Chris Carpenter. Carpenter missed almost all of the 2012 season with Thoracic outlet syndrome (something with his shoulder). Carpenter has only had 3 starts and they did not look good for him. He has posted an 0-2 and allowed a total of 7 runs for a 3.71 ERA. This is not like CHris Carpenter who has normally done very well including an 15-9 record (that includes 4-0 in the postseason) on the way to the world series last year. It would seem that these three starts at the end of the season might be hinting that Carpenter should have just sat out the whole season. However, he is pitching and will look to rebound from the not so decent starts that he has had the past few weeks.

Edwin Jackson

His opponent  is none other than the man who helped lead the Cardinals to a World Series victory last year, Edwin Jackson. After winning a World Series with the Cardinals Jackson opted for a change of scenery and moving to Washington (that couldn’t have worked out any better). While Jackson’s stats have been fairly consistent he has been a solid middle of the rotation pitcher with 10 wins, 10 no decisions, and 11 losses. Jackson knows what it takes to hold a team off and try to get his team to get some points. The past couple of years Jackson has been hopping around the country on different teams and you can tell he is just looking for a home. Might he have found it in Washington? His last start against St. Louis was not a promising one, but in trying to prove his worth this 9 year old veteran has something to prove to his new home town.

Overall:

Living in DC I can say that home-field advantage in this game is going to be huge for the Nationals and for Jackson. There have been reports that the game is sold out and the only tickets available are standing-room only. This extra little kick for Jackson will help motivate him. That coupled with the fact that Carpenter has not looked very strong the past few weeks after recovering from surgery. However, be warned Carpenter has been a playoff machine in the past and if he gets going Jackson and the Nationals might have trouble catching up. If the Nationals are going to win this game it is going to be based on how well they hit against Carpenter and not necessarily on how well Jackson pitches (while that is an important factor still).

NLDS Game 4: CIN leads 2-1 (TBS 4:07)

Mike Leake (CIN) v Barry Zito (SF)

Mike Leake

Speaking of pressure, imagine being told you are left off the post-season roster and then being placed into your first playoff series in the heat of action. That is exactly the case for Mike Leake who has filled the roster spot for the now injured Johnny Cueto.

A quick examination of his stats tells the story of why he was initially left off the roster; 8-9 and an ERA of 4.23 isn’t exactly what you are looking for in the playoffs. Luckily for Leake, and the Reds they can afford to lose a game. In theory that does allieviate some of the burden placed on the righty tonight.

Another factor in his favor is that the guy has 5 pitches to choose from. Ideally the coaching staff for the Reds will want him to focus on the pitches he is most comfortable with (Sinker, Slider, Changeup). However as always it will be crucial to establish a fastball in order to take full advantage of the three off-speed pitches he is capable of tossing. If the fast ball isn’t there then this could be a short outing for Leake, which will leave the Reds in a heap of trouble if they do move on to the NLCS.

Barry Zito

On the mound for the Giants is none other than veteran Barry Zito his tenure with the team has had it’s ups-and-downs, but mostly downs. This season however has been a good one for the left-handed curveball specialist, all things considered. He has a 15-8 record with 114 strikeouts, the ERA however remains over 4.

The brightest spot for Zito is that he has plenty of postseason experience (7 starts), and tonight he will have to count on that experience in order to prevent the Giants from an early exit in a series many had them winning. In those 7 outings he has been able to keep his ERA at 3.25, so he has been known to show up when it counts.

The cold Cinicinnati night will be favorable for Zito, less chance for a hanging curve to get slaughtered, but nonetheless keeping solid command and execution of the curve will be crucial for Zito as always.

Overall:

If we are talking straight experience and season performance then Barry Zito has this matchup in hand. The kicker though is that there is an extremely short leash on Mike Leake tonight, and even if San Fransisco gets to Leake early they wont be getting a second chance to see him. Zito likewise will have a close eye kept from the Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy.

Barry understands his career with the Giants has been a bust just as much as anyone, and while tonight might not right all wrongs it will put himself and the Giants in a better position than before. Likewise an implosion from Zito will put another nasty chapter in a disspointing spell with the team.

Expect Leake to get roughed up a bit early, and likewise exit early. Leaving the Reds bullpen to play damage control, if they can do that then they will move on tonight, but going forward this will be a huge issue for the team. For Zito the goal will be get to the 6th and let the bullpen do its job.

The pitching battle will be between the bullpens not the starters and for that I give advantage to the Reds and Mike Leake (by default).

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About Andrew Ware

Seminary student at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington D.C. and graduate of Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, VA. But most of all a follower of Jesus Christ.

View all posts by Andrew Ware

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3 Comments on “Wednesday’s ALDS/NLDS Probables”

  1. Matthew Milko Says:

    What channel/time are the games?

    Reply

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