October 19, 2012
NLCS Game Five Preview: Giants vs. Cardinals
The prospect of a weekend without baseball is frightening, but that’s precisely what’s at stake this evening with the Yankees already gone and the Giants facing elimination. Can the Cardinals capture their second consecutive pennant? Or will the Giants bring the series back to San Francisco by forcing a sixth game? To answer those questions, here are the PECOTA odds and projected starting lineups for Game Five:
Giants (Barry Zito) vs. Cardinals (Lance Lynn) – 7:00 p.m. ET
Projected Starting Lineups
It’s another day and another toss-up in the National League Championship Series, but if PECOTA has its way, the best-of-seven affair will end tonight. The Cardinals are narrowly favored given the lineups shown above, which have Posey and Belt returning to their familiar positions for San Francisco, and Carpenter once again filling in for Beltran for St. Louis. If Bruce Bochy elects to use Sanchez as his catcher and Posey as his first baseman, as he did in Game Four, the Giants’ odds tick down 1.3 percent. Meanwhile, if Beltran’s strained knee is healthy enough for him to return, the Cardinals enjoy a 1.4 percent boost in win probability. Neither of those scenarios is particularly likely to be a game-changer, but in a razor-tight contest, there’s a chance that either could prove decisive.
The starting pitchers, on the other hand, figure to play a much greater role, just as they did last night. Wainwright and Lincecum, both wild cards with a wide range of outcomes, produced vastly different results. The former baffled the Giants with a sharp curveball reminiscent of his Game One outing in the Division Series, and put his Game Five struggles against the Nationals in the rearview mirror. The latter looked much more like the erstwhile ace that allowed 11 earned runs in 10 innings over his last two regular-season starts than the relief force that helped the Giants to stave off elimination in Cincinnati. Unsurprisingly, the Cardinals prevailed, 8-3, behooving Zito to show his Dr. Jekyll side, and giving Lynn a comparatively low-pressure opportunity to improve on his clunker in the series opener.
What went wrong for Lynn in Game One? The plot below implies a rather simple explanation for his plight in an outing that began with three hitless innings, but required a rescue effort from Joe Kelly before the end of the fourth.