October 10, 2012
ALDS Game Four Preview: Tigers at A's
Game Three was, in its most visible respects, diametrically opposed to the way Game Two went: Ryan Cook, Sean Doolittle, and Grant Balfour held a close game late rather than blowing it, and Coco Crisp made a miraculous catch, committing grand larceny on a Prince Fielder homer rather than dropping a pop-up. The result was a 2-0 win, another day of life for the A's, and a second home playoff game for the fans.
Projected Starting Lineups:
PECOTA likes this matchup for the A's even better than it did in Game Three when it had Oakland at 58.1 percent to win. (We ran the simulations again with Derek Norris at catcher instead of George Kottaras, and PECOTA came out 0.3 percent higher for the A's. Call me, Mr. Melvin, and let me know what you think.)
Scherzer had a breakout year in certain respects; while he had a better ERA in 2010 and threw more innings in each of the last two years, he added almost 50 percent to his previous career high in WARP, racking up 3.8 wins on the strength of a tremendous 29.4 percent strikeout rate. (The next-highest qualifying pitcher was Yu Darvish at 27.1; following those two are three pitchers just above 25 percent: Clayton Kershaw, Gio Gonzalez, and Justin Verlander. The gap from first to fifth is remarkable, especially when you read the names of the players involved.) His walk rate was also better than average, and he gave up a reasonable number of homers, especially seeing as how he's a fly ball pitcher.
So why is Scherzer not blowing the competition away for the Cy Young? Our old friend BABIP. I don't mean that in the sense that you often see it meant, however. I'm not explaining away Scherzer's hit-rate as luck and claiming that the A's had better watch out lest they be unceremoniously dumped from the playoffs via the no-hitter. No, check out Scherzer's BABIPs in his four full seasons in the big leagues: