October 9, 2010
Saturday LDS Projections
Playoff Prospectus: Saturday LDS Projections
By Eric Seidman
I’m a sucker for the dramatic aspect of baseball and I’ll readily admit that. In our roundtable the other night, Steven Goldman even referred to me as a baseball era version of Alan Alda from MASH. I’ll take it. It should then come as no surprise that both games last night gave me chills. First, the Phillies and Reds engaged in the sloppiest game of the playoffs to date, combining for what felt like 231 errors, either physical or mental, but Aroldis Chapman pitched on a national stage and was promptly greeted with a bevy of unearned runs that put the home team ahead.
All of this coming, of course, after Bronson Arroyo--of all pitchers--absolutely toyed with a powerful Phillies lineup. Chase Utley wasn’t actually hit by a Chapman pitch, was probably out at second base on the following play, and may or may not have actually touched third base when scoring on a Jay Bruce error in the same inning. And who could possibly be anything but happy for Mike Sweeney, who now has a 1.000 OBP in the playoffs after his single off the Cuban missile?
Over in the Braves game, Rick Ankiel broke a 4-4 tie with a solo homer in the top of the 11th inning. I’m still shocked he is a somewhat successful major league hitter, and getting to watch his moment was my icing on the cake. I’ll never forget watching Ankiel take on Greg Maddux in that division series back in 2000. I may have only been 14 years old at the time, but I’ve been extremely into baseball my entire life, and that game in which Ankiel completely lost control was unequivocally the hardest thing in baseball I have ever had to watch. Getting to see him redeem himself with a clutch home run was fantastic. Obviously not for Giants fans, but hey, I had no horse in that Braves-Giants race.
Yesterday saw the second game of both National League series, and today the action switches over to the junior circuit, as the Yankees and Rangers look to finish off their series sweeps. Fortunately for both of those teams, they each get their first shot of advancing back on familiar turf. The Yankees will send Phil Hughes to the mound to pitch a clinching game at Yankees Stadium, against Brian Duensing of the Twins. Down in Texas, the impressive Colby Lewis squares off against Matt Garza. Below are the projected lineups and their expected slash lines based on the opposing pitcher, the hitter friendliness (or lack thereof) of the parks, and some home field advantage. As the lineups for each game are posted, if changes persist, we will provide an update as always.
Twins (Brian Duensing) at Yankees (Phil Hughes)
Projected Runs Scored: Yankees 5.10, Twins 4.43
Projected Odds of Winning: Yankees 56.73 percent, Twins 43.27 percent
Twins vs. Phil Hughes
Yankees vs. Brian Duensing
Phil Hughes is the wild card for the Yankees. He has pitched exceedingly well at times this year, and very poor at others, but he represents the best option for the Yankees third starter. You know, to an extent, what will be received from Sabathia, and Pettitte can turn in a great game when healthy, but Hughes could pitch a seven inning gem just as easily as he could a four inning debacle with six runs across. If he can establish himself here, in a clinching game, as a force to be reckoned with, the Yankees will look that much more imposing to their future opponents.
While Duensing might be a nice pitcher, when one third or more of the viewership has no idea who you are, odds are you aren’t going to be expected to hold down the Twins fort. It’s been a remarkable season for the Twins, and it might not end today, but throwing those low strikeout pitchers against a team like the Yankees doesn’t create a favorable matchup by any stretch of the imagination. The umpires have been a big story in this series, but let’s not fool ourselves into thinking what has happened is strictly a result of the men in blue. Mauer, Thome, Span, and Kubel get to face a northpaw this time around, and I’ll peg the Thome-Hughes matchup as the key to this game.
Rays (Matt Garza) at Rangers (Colby Lewis)
Projected Runs Scored: Rangers 5.06, Rays 3.94
Projected Odds of Winning: Rangers 61.61 percent, Rays 38.39 percent
Rays vs. Colby Lewis
Rangers vs. Matt Garza
The Rangers get to take a 2-0 lead back to their own digs, which is a very hitter-friendly park. Between that aspect of the game, and what PECOTA expects out of Matt Garza, the Rangers project to be rather slug-happy during the game. This is mirrored by their projection to score over five runs in the contest. On the flipside, the Rays face Lewis, a notorious strikeout pitcher. Given the Rays’ propensity for whiffing and their playing on the road, the matchup doesn’t bode well for them. It is quite the tall task to come back from a 2-0 lead with the next two games away from home, but the Rays can get on the right path by being their patient selves with Lewis.