October 22, 2012
NLCS Game Seven Preview: Giants vs. Cardinals
Game Six featured the same starting pitchers as Game Two, and the results—with the Giants racing out to an early lead, amplified by defensive miscues, and fending off the Cardinals—were similar, too. Game Seven is a rematch of Game Three, when St. Louis clung to a 3-1 edge to grab a 2-1 series lead. Will the Cardinals prevail again, or will the Giants complete another three-elimination-game comeback? Here are the PECOTA odds and projected starting lineups for tonight’s contest:
Cardinals (Kyle Lohse) vs. Giants (Matt Cain) – 8:00 p.m. ET
PECOTA does not like Lohse. It’s nothing personal—at least, as far as we can tell—but the system views the Cardinals’ Game Seven starter as only slightly better than replacement-level pitcher, and hence, it expects the Giants to ride Cain to the pennant by nearly a 2-to-1 margin.
San Francisco’s odds tick up an additional 2.2 percent if Holliday, who was scratched from the Game Six lineup with back spasms and underwent an MRI on Sunday night, is forced to sit out, even though his replacement, Matt Carpenter, accounted for most of St. Louis’ Game Three output on a two-run blast off of Cain in the third inning, after replacing an ailing Beltran. Carpenter attributes his peculiar, 5-for-6 line against the right-hander to the small sample size of encounters between them, but the takeaway here is that the 27-year-old rookie offers Mike Matheny a quality reserve, and he certainly won’t be an automatic out for Cain.
Neither starter was particularly sharp in Game Three, with the northpaws picking up only two strikeouts apiece. Cain kept the Cardinals off-balance over 6 2/3 frames, and he may have outpitched Lohse from a peripherals perspective, but Lohse allowed only one runner to cross home plate despite letting 12 Giants reach in 5 2/3 innings of work. Bruce Bochy’s squad went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position—falling victim to a trend Lohse showed throughout the regular season, when he held opponents to a .184/.264/.206 triple slash in RISP situations—and stranded 11 during the rain-soaked affair, but Lohse played with fire throughout the afternoon and is likely to get burned if he does so again tonight.
The chart below shows Cain’s pitches to right-handed batters in Game Three: