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October 11, 2010

Playoff Prospectus

Monday LDS Projection

by Eric Seidman

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Now that the divisional series are concluding or reaching that point, these previews may feel a bit lighter. The Yankees took care of business over the weekend, sweeping the Twins and advancing to the American League Championship Series. The Rangers appeared to be heading towards the ALCS, too, but the Rays quashed their hopes of making things easy by taking both games in Arlington. Home field advantage simply hasn’t existed in that series, and Tuesday night will feature a fifth game with a redux of the starting pitching matchup from Game One between David Price and Cliff Lee. The Phillies used a dominating performance by Cole Hamels to sweep the Reds in the National League, and will head back home to wait out the eventual victor of the only series being played Monday: Giants-Braves.

The teams split the first two games in San Francisco. In Game One, Tim Lincecum struck out 14 hitters en route to a complete game shutout and a 1-0 victory. The next night, Rick Ankiel crushed a home run into McCovey Cove in the top of the 11th inning to put the Braves ahead 5-4, capping a comeback all the way from a 4-0 deficit to win. Sunday, Jonathan Sanchez surrendered two hits in his 7 1/3 innings, one to Tim Hudson and another to Alex Gonzalez, before he was removed in the eighth. Sergio Romo came in and Eric Hinske greeted him with a go-ahead  two-run homer. Of course, the Braves lead was short-lived, as in the top of the ninth Brooks Conrad committed what felt like his 100th error of the last two weeks on a fairly routine one-hopper off the bat of Buster Posey. The ball scooted through his wickets to cap a two-run rally and the Giants won 3-2.

Monday night, the Giants will dip into their depth and look to advance behind the strong left arm of Madison Bumgarner.  The Braves will counter with Derek Lowe, who threw very well in the first game of the series, albeit nowhere near as good as Lincecum. Matt Swartz has this specific pitching matchup covered in today’s pitching preview, but let’s see how Monday's lone game looks through the eye of the all powerful Sauron PECOTA.

 

Giants (Madison Bumgarner) at Braves (Derek Lowe)

Projected Runs Scored: Braves 4.33, Giants 3.78

Projected Odds of Winning: Braves 56.12 percent, Giants 43.88 percent

 

Giants vs. Derek Lowe

 

NAME

BA

OBP

SLG

Andres Torres

.272

.322

.415

Freddy Sanchez

.313

.336

.429

Aubrey Huff

.295

.341

.450

Buster Posey

.289

.326

.426

Pat Burrell

.264

.341

.421

Juan Uribe

.272

.302

.419

Cody Ross

.276

.316

.427

Mike Fontenot

.297

.341

.428

  

Braves vs. Madison Bumgarner

 

NAME

BA

OBP

SLG

Omar Infante

.317

.355

.456

Jason Heyward

.286

.355

.444

Brian McCann

.315

.367

.507

Derrek Lee

.306

.369

.496

Troy Glaus

.272

.347

.443

Alex Gonzalez

.287

.320

.460

Nate McLouth

.282

.339

.456

Rick Ankiel

.273

.322

.444

 

We made some roster presumptions for this game, primarily that Mike Fontenot would start in place of Pablo Sandoval once again and that, finally, Bobby Cox is going to end the Conrad experiment by playing Troy Glaus at third and Omar Infante at second. It’s a shame that Conrad, a 30-year old rookie, could be remembered for his shoddy defensive play, but the Braves really can’t base their decisions on feelings from now on, and it isn’t as if he is so superb of a hitter that he must stay in the lineup or else the Braves run the risk of not scoring. Conrad is an OK bat that would work well in the lineup if he wasn’t a liability defensively, but not nearly talented enough with the stick to ensure a starting spot when the defensive play erodes. Then again, Glaus shouldn’t be expected to be a defensive wizard at the hot corner, either, but perhaps the Braves feel this represents the lesser of two evils.

Should the Braves knot the series up, Game Five would pit Lincecum against Tommy Hanson on Wednesday night in San Francisco, which goes to show the importance of Game Three. A win Sunday would have put the Braves up 2-1 at home with a potential advantage in the starting pitching matchup. Now, should they win, they “get” to face one of the best pitchers in the sport on his home field. Does this series end tonight?

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

10 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

McNulty

Is there any way to account for Lowe on short rest in the projections, or is that already done?

Oct 11, 2010 10:47 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Eric Seidman
BP staff

Mike, it isn't already done, but here is the question I pose to you: what would you even do along those lines? I suppose we could find out the difference between 3 and 4 days of rest for the league and then regress Lowe's personal splits heavily in that direction, but then how reliable are those splits, given that mostly only the top of the line pitchers even throw on short rest. I guess I'm saying it is conceivably capable of being done, but I'm not sure about how much more accurate it would make the numbers.

Oct 11, 2010 12:08 PM
 
McNulty

I was just curious to what it might/might not do to the numbers. When I first read this I thought the 56% to win for the Braves was high given the 3 days rest. That was just a gut reaction though, and I think you laid out enough reasons not to question the numbers.

Oct 11, 2010 14:41 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Eric Seidman
BP staff

Mike, it certainly could have an effect. I was just playing devil's advocate for a bit. But I honestly think, when push comes to shove, it'd be a lot of work for minimal gain, especially given how much we would have to regress. The sample of guys pitching on short rest is very substantially smaller than other splits, which fogs the situation.

Oct 11, 2010 14:48 PM
 
theguarantee

My memory tells me that Lowe is, somewhat counter-intuitively, not good on short rest. Common theory tends to hold that sinker-ball pitchers are better on short-rest than others. I think some research might have disproved this and I also think Lowe has had some ugly short-rest starts. All of this is coming completely off the top of my head so feel free to shoot some numbers/research at me that say WRONG.

Oct 11, 2010 12:38 PM
rating: 0
 
beerd90210

@theguarantee. I'm not checking all his lifetime numbers, but this start on two days was pretty good.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYA/NYA200410200.shtml

Oct 11, 2010 13:17 PM
rating: 0
 
TJHelms

I sense a Kiss 'Em Goodbye: Atlanta Braves feature up on the site sometime early Wednesday. At least I hope so -- a couple of Halladay-Lincecum matchups in the NLCS would be great for all fans.

Oct 11, 2010 13:32 PM
rating: 0
 
rweiler

It's worth mentioning that Madison Bumgarner put up very good numbers at the plate in the minors, admittedly in an extremely limited number of PA's. His career triple slash numbers were 364/.391/.636 in 5 PA. He managed something like a 170/220/220 line in the majors. With 2 teams that have been as offensively challenged as the Giants and the Braves, it might make a difference.

Oct 11, 2010 14:11 PM
rating: 0
 
rweiler

Whoops - make that 56 games, 24 PA. Still, a 20 year old hitting 333/333/533 at triple A with limited professional PA's is pretty remarkable.

Oct 11, 2010 14:13 PM
rating: 0
 
theguarantee

Bumgarner looked better at the plate than on the hill to my naked eye. Credit due I suppose, but jeez if the Braves didn't miss 5,000 hanging sliders and belt high centered fastballs tonight. Bumgarner's swing looked every bit as good as Buster Posey's to my eye though so take it for what it's worth. Can't see how either of these teams can win more than 1 game against the Phils and I'm fully expecting a sweep. A lot of people will laud the pitching and not completely without reason, but the hitting in this series is about as bad as it gets in the post-season. Something tells me the Giants pitching staff facing an AL lineup gets a rude wakeup call and the hitters are left in quicksand. I give them a chance of beating Oswalt if Cain pitches out of his mind, but I'm fully expecting a sweep, with an off-chance of 4-1. Hopefully the AL series provides some drama...or I'm wrong.

Oct 11, 2010 22:09 PM
rating: 0
 
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