CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

World Series time! Enjoy Premium-level access to most features through the end of the Series!

<< Previous Article
The Lineup Card: 11 Po... (10/16)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: NL... (10/15)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: NL... (10/16)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: NL... (10/16)

October 16, 2013

Playoff Prospectus

ALCS Game Four Preview: Red Sox at Tigers

by Craig Goldstein

the archives are now free.

All Baseball Prospectus Premium and Fantasy articles more than a year old are now free as a thank you to the entire Internet for making our work possible.

Not a subscriber? Get exclusive content like this delivered hot to your inbox every weekday. Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get instant access to the best baseball content on the web.

Subscribe for $4.95 per month
Recurring subscription - cancel anytime.


a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Purchase a $39.95 gift subscription
a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

Boston was able to snag a victory from Justin Verlander and the Tigers behind a phenomenal performance from John Lackey and a solo home run by Mike Napoli. Here are the projected lineups and PECOTA odds as Boston looks to put a stranglehold on the series with a win in Game Four:

Red Sox (Jake Peavy) vs. Tigers (Doug Fister) – 8:00 p.m. ET

PECOTA Odds of Winning: Tigers 51.9 percent, Red Sox 48.1 percent

Red Sox vs. Fister (R)

Tigers vs. Peavy (R)

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF (L)

Austin Jackson, CF (R)

Shane Victorino, RF (S)

Torii Hunter, RF (R)

Dustin Pedroia, 2B (R)

Miguel Cabrera, 3B (R)

David Ortiz, DH (L)

Prince Fielder, 1B (L)

Mike Napoli, 1B (R)

Victor Martinez, DH (S)

Daniel Nava, RF (S)

Jhonny Peralta, LF (R)

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C (S)

Alex Avila, C (L)

Stephen Drew, SS (L)

Omar Infante, 2B (R)

Will Middlebrooks, 3B (R)

Jose Iglesias, SS (R)

The Set-Up:
It’s not surprising that PECOTA produces an almost dead-even result with these two teams matching up, especially with these two pitchers on the mound. While both teams are well built in almost all phases of the game (though Detroit’s bullpen can leave something to be desired), the narrative that has taken root is that of Boston’s offense versus Detroit’s pitching. This is deceptive of course as Detroit’s offense is quite potent and Boston’s pitching is nothing to sneeze at (no seriously, don’t sneeze at them, you might hurt Clay Buchholz). So while the series itself appeared to pit two (mostly) evenly matched teams against each other, Game Four is especially close because of the two starting pitchers: Jake Peavy and Doug Fister.

Focusing In:

The two starters somewhat mirror each other in terms of position on the team. Both are fourth starters in name only, as each would slot towards the middle (or top) of a rotation on weaker teams. They’re moderately similar pitchers even if they do go about it in different ways. Fister is, as we know, a groundball machine; generating over 50 percent for the second straight year. Peavy, while never purely a groundball guy has seen his GB% drop precipitously over the last few years, resulting in an all-time low 32.7 percent in 2013. While we as a community tend to like groundball pitchers because they’re less affected by the long ball, we should note that this game taking place in Comerica is actually a bigger boon to Lackey than it is to Fister, because of his flyball tendencies. Of course it’s also worth noting that converted shortstop Jhonny Peralta will be manning the spacious left field in Comerica, which will make Austin Jackson’s job that much harder if the Red Sox are able to lift any of Fister’s offerings. One thing to keep in mind when watching Fister pitch is the evolution of his arsenal. Once a sinker/cutter pitcher, Fister began to incorporate his curveball more often (and with success) starting in 2012. He’s also begun throwing his splitter more often, after moving away from it following his rookie season. While the sinker is still his dominant pitch, Fister is doing his best to mix his pitches and keep hitters off-balance. Given how much he pounds the zone (5.5 BB percent), it’s important that Fister not become predictable in his offerings. (chart courtesy of Brooks Baseball):

While it’s obvious that pitching has been the story of this series, particularly strikeouts when it comes to the Detroit, Fister just isn’t the same style of pitcher as his rotation mates, only logging five games with 10+ strikeouts in his career (Sanchez: 9, Scherzer: 18, Verlander: 28). Perhaps surprisingly though, it’s Peavy who leads all available pitchers in that particular statistic with 32 games of 10-plus strikeouts in his career. Obviously, some of that credit goes to pitching in the National League and facing the pitcher for much of his career, but that he has still logged more than Verlander took me by surprise.

Matchup to Watch:
It should come as no surprise that the matchup to watch would involve Miguel Cabrera, even in his weakened state. Peavy has shown over his career, and specifically this year, a predilection for pounding the lower outside part of the zone to right-handed hitters. While that’s not an uncommon trait for pitchers (trying to get hitters to swing at breaking balls off the edge), Peavy has also shown a willingness to pitch in on the hands (middle, in quadrant). What makes this matchup to watch, is that Miguel Cabrera thrives on the inside pitch more than anything that isn’t dead center. That’s partially because Cabrera is great at hitting just about anything, but it should be fun to see strength versus strength when these two meet. (Charts courtesy of Brooks Baseball.)

My Prediction
Offense has been at a premium this entire series, and while both teams boast the ability to score in bunches, Comerica’s dimensions Peavy’s profile a bit better, and the Red Sox head into Game Five with a 3-1 series lead, following a 4-1 win.

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

5 comments have been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
The Lineup Card: 11 Po... (10/16)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: NL... (10/15)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: NL... (10/16)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: NL... (10/16)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Pebble Hunting: An Illustrated Guide to the ...
Raising Aces: Ghosts of World Series Past
Playoff Prospectus: PECOTA Odds and Game 3 P...
Playoff Prospectus: A Decade of Planning an ...
Playoff Prospectus: Never-Wrong Ned?
Playoff Prospectus: PECOTA Odds and Game Fou...
Playoff Prospectus: Petit Comes Up Big

MORE FROM OCTOBER 16, 2013
Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: ALCS Game 3 Recap: Red S...
Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: NLCS Game Four Recap: Ca...
Baseball Prospectus News: Internet Baseball ...
Premium Article Baseball Therapy: Did Big Papi’s Big Home ...
Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: NLCS Game Five Preview: ...
The Lineup Card: 11 Postseason Ads, Slogans,...
Premium Article Minor League Update: AFL Recap for Games of ...

MORE BY CRAIG GOLDSTEIN
2013-10-29 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Matt Adams: First Base Fi...
2013-10-27 - Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: World Series Game Four P...
2013-10-22 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Brandon Phillips' Gradual...
2013-10-16 - Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: ALCS Game Four Preview: ...
2013-10-16 - BP Unfiltered: One of These Things is Not Li...
2013-10-15 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Carpenter's Tools
2013-10-08 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Lake Effect
More...

MORE PLAYOFF PROSPECTUS
2013-10-16 - Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: ALCS Game 3 Recap: Red S...
2013-10-16 - Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: NLCS Game Four Recap: Ca...
2013-10-16 - Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: NLCS Game Five Preview: ...
2013-10-16 - Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: ALCS Game Four Preview: ...
2013-10-15 - Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: NLCS Game Three Recap: D...
2013-10-15 - Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: NLCS Game Four Preview: ...
2013-10-15 - Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: ALCS Game Three Preview:...
More...