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October 22, 2014

Playoff Prospectus

PECOTA Odds and Game Two Preview

by Zachary Levine

The difference between a tied series and an imposing lead for the Giants will likely be in the grips of the relievers, although for a very different reason on both sides. It’s a 13-year vet who’s happened upon the last two World Series taking on a rookie whose start couldn’t possibly come with more question marks. And then the real show will begin.

San Francisco Giants (Jake Peavy) at Kansas City Royals (Yordano Ventura) 8:07 p.m. Eastern

PECOTA odds of winning: 56% Giants, 44% Royals

Projected Starting Lineups

Giants vs. Ventura (R)

Royals vs. Peavy (R)

Gregor Blanco (L) CF

Alcides Escobar (R) SS

Joe Panik (L) 2B

Norichika Aoki (L) RF

Buster Posey (R) C

Lorenzo Cain (R) CF

Pablo Sandoval (S) 3B

Eric Hosmer (L) 1B

Hunter Pence (R) RF

Billy Butler (R) DH

Brandon Belt (L) 1B

Alex Gordon (L) LF

Michael Morse (R) DH

Salvador Perez (R) C

Travis Ishikawa (L) LF

Omar Infante (R) 2B

Brandon Crawford (L) SS

Mike Moustakas (L) 3B

Injuries/Availability: If Ventura is anything close to normal, there is no disaster here for the Royals. Yes, they had to get 59 pitches out of long reliever Danny Duffy and 31 out of Tim Collins. And yes, their top relievers (Greg Holland, Wade Davis, Kelvin Herrera) are generally one-inning guys locked into their one-inning roles late in the game. But Jason Frasor could probably go again with 16 pitches and an off-day coming and their other lefty Brandon Finnegan is rested, so that even if Ventura is bad, they’ll be able to piece the game together OK with good arms the rest of the way as they try to come back.

Where things get dicey for the home team and where the visiting Giants can really strike for their best chance at 2-0 is if Ventura is still hurt after leaving his last start with shoulder tightness. If he can’t give them even the 3 1/3 innings they got from James Shields in Game One, the 5 2/3 innings of bullpen use from Game One becomes an issue.

We’ll take the fact that Ned Yost is willing to start him in Game Two when the whole rotation is at full rest as a sign that he is indeed healthy – as the Royals tried to tell us after the Game Two exit against the Orioles. But will the velocity be there? ALCS Game Two saw Ventura’s lowest average four-seam velocity of any start this season (96.59 mph #firstworldproblems), his lowest average two-seam velocity of the season (95.97 mph) and his lowest changeup velocity (84.61 mph). The fastballs were two mph below his usual and the changeup four.

It’s something that we’ll all be tracking early, especially given the injury, which also followed some elbow soreness early in the year.

As for the Giants, they should be fine. Everybody is rested after Madison Bumgarner’s seven inning mastery on Tuesday, and facing another righty, the lineup would be expected to look a lot like it did in Game One.

Outlook: PECOTA loves the Giants in this game, giving them a 56 percent shot on the road, but then again, PECOTA loves the Giants in this series. They had a 56 percent shot in Game One, and while they aren’t starting their ace, there’s so much mystery surrounding what you’ll get in Ventura that this seems reasonable.

And it’s not like the Giants are starting a slouch against the Royals lineup that we would also expect to be fairly consistent from what they were using against the Orioles’ and Angels’ righties. This will be his second career World Series start, and it comes in his 15th game with a new team – not quite as impressive as last year’s World Series start in his 13th game with a new team, but the guy does know how to find a good situation, which he probably deserves after never even reaching an LCS with the Padres or White Sox.

Don’t expect him to go too deep, though, especially given how rested the Giants bullpen is with everybody fresh for Game Two. Peavy has made seven career postseason starts and didn’t finish the sixth inning of any of them. He’s always had the pretty standard times-through-the-order penalty applied to him, but this year, that third time through has been a disaster.

Time through the order

Career OPS against

2014 OPS against

1st time through

.642

.662

2nd time through

.668

.648

3rd time through

.736

.933

Yep, it does look like a bullpen game.

Zachary Levine is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Zachary's other articles. You can contact Zachary by clicking here

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<< Previous Article
Minor League Update: G... (10/22)
<< Previous Column
Playoff Prospectus: Wo... (10/21)
Next Column >>
Playoff Prospectus: Th... (10/22)
Next Article >>
Moonshot: The Royals, ... (10/22)

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