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Cardinals/Giants

After splitting the first two games of the series in St. Louis, the two clubs head west looking to secure an advantage in the best-of-seven series. Game Three features a battle between two cagey vets who have 28 years of big-league experience between them, with the 39-year old Tim Hudson taking the mound for San Francisco against the Cards' deadline acquisition, 35-year old John Lackey. PECOTA sees the Giants as having a big edge versus the Molina-less Cardinals, but the tale of the tape reveals a a close matchup.

Cardinals (John Lackey) at Giants (Tim Hudson), 4:07 pm EST
PECOTA odds of winning: Giants 62.5%, Cardinals 37.5%

Projected Starting Lineups:

Giants vs. Lackey (R)

Cardinals vs. Hudson (R)

Gregor Blanco (L) CF

Matt Carpenter (L) 3B

Joe Panik (L) 2B

John Jay (L) CF

Buster Posey (R) C

Matt Holliday (R) LF

Pablo Sandoval (S) 3B

Matt Adams (L) 1B

Hunter Pence (R) RF

Jhonny Peralta (R) SS

Brandon Belt (L) 1B

Kolton Wong (L) 2B

Brandon Crawford (L) SS

Randal Grichuk (R) RF

Travis Ishikawa (L) LF

A.J. Pierzynski (L) C

Tim Hudson (R) P

John Lackey (R) P

Injury/Availability Notes: Losing Yadier Molina was a massive blow to the Cardinals, as his impact was felt in the lineup, by the pitching staff, and on the basepaths. The team added A.J. Pierzynski to the NLCS roster as a third catcher, a move that proves prescient in the wake of Molina's sore oblique, and Pierzynski will likely get the start in Game Three given his left-handedness and his familiarity with Lackey (they were batterymates in Boston to start the year). Clubhouse rumblings indicate that Molina might be able to come off the bench, but the ability for an oblique injury to sap a player's power tempers the enthusiasm of seeing him stride to the dish as a pinch-hitter. Expect Michael Morse to stay in the pinch-hitting role, where he could be dangerous off the San Francisco bench.

Outlook: Tim Hudson had a rough final month of the season, but he righted the ship in the NLDS to beat the Nationals and will look to stop the sudden homer barrage of the Cardinal lineup. Huddy threw seven shutout innings against the Cardinals back on June 1st, the only time that he has faced them this season. He will have to be extra careful with the top of the St. Louis lineup, as leadoff man Matt Carpenter has seven extra-base hits (including four jacks) in six games thus far this postseason, and Jon Jay has a .571 on-base percentage in 21 plate appearances in the playoffs. The Giants might want to stay away from using rookie Hunter Strickland in this one, as the hard-throwing right-hander has surrendered four homers in just 4 1/3 innings pitched this October.

Lackey has not faced the Giants in the past few seasons, and though his introduction to St. Louis was less than ideal, he has rattled off three consecutive quality starts. His last start was a seven-inning performance that included eight strikeouts and six baserunners against the Dodgers in Game Three of the NLDS. San Francisco needs to honor Jobu with cigars and rum in hopes of rediscovering their power, as the Gigante bats have managed just a single deep fly in six postseason games. This team doesn't rely on homers, but their best shot against Lackey is to take advantage of his penchant for allowing the long ball. —Doug Thorburn

Orioles/Royals

The Royals continue to win in unconventional ways, with game-changing speed and defense coming up key time and time again. They head into Game Three looking to take the always imposing 3-0 lead.

Orioles (Wei-Yin Chen) at Royals (Jeremy Guthrie) 8:00 pm EST
PECOTA odds of winning: 50.4% Orioles, 49.6% Royals

Projected Starting Lineups

Royals vs. Chen (L)

Orioles vs. Guthrie (R)

Alcides Escobar (R) SS

Nick Markakis (L) RF

Nori Aoki (L) RF

Alejandro De Aza (L) LF

Lorenzo Cain (R) CF

Adam Jones (R) CF

Eric Hosmer (L) 1B

Nelson Cruz (R) DH

Billy Butler (R) DH

Steve Pearce (R) 1B

Alex Gordon (L) LF

J.J. Hardy (R) SS

Salvador Perez (R) C

Ryan Flaherty (L) 3B

Omar Infante (R) 2B

Caleb Joseph (R) C

Mike Moustakas (L) 3B

Jonathan Schoop (R) 2B

Injuries/Availability: Coming off a rain-mandated extra day of rest, each team is sticking with the originally scheduled starting pitcher. Previously scheduled Game Five starter Chris Tillman has now been mentioned as a possible Game Four starter (thanks to rain, it would be full rest), which would make Miguel Gonzalez a possibility in the bullpen for this game. Yordano Ventura left Game Two with elbow tightness, but Ned Yost doesn’t expect him to miss his next start and it obviously has no effect on Game Three.

Outlook: Wei-Yin Chen does a solid job of controlling the run-game on the mound, but so does Chris Tillman and the Royals didn’t need any stolen bases to get things done against him. Kansas City has shown that speed kills in more ways than just the stolen base, helping them take the extra base and enhance their elite outfield defense. While it feels like the Royals have everything on their side at the moment with a 2-0 series lead, it’s easy to overlook the fact that both games could’ve gone either way until the Royals pulled off late-game heroics.

Maybe of more importance with regards to Chen’s presence on the mound is the fact that he’s a lefty. Mike Moustakas wasn’t much of threat in the regular season, posting a .632 OPS, but he’s been on a six-game tear in the playoffs, out-slugging (.864) his regular season OPS by a decent margin. However, Moustakas struggles against lefties have been well-documented (.595 career OPS against southpaws) and was one of the reasons his ninth inning bunt in Game Two against Zach Britton made sense. Chen’s presence also could help reduce Eric Hosmer’s impact as well.

Of course, Salvador Perez has had quite a bit of success against lefties in his career, so Chen could be just the prescription he needs to break out of his postseason slump (.148/.179/.148 in six games).

With Guthrie on the mound, the Orioles face a ‘finesse’ pitcher for the first time in the series and, as pointed out in the ALCS preview, Baltimore feasts on pitchers of his ilk. And while the Orioles haven’t struggled much scoring in the first two games, their home run hitting ways have been all but absent, with just one long ball to the Royals four.

PECOTA gives a miniscule edge to the Orioles in this one, but it’s essentially a toss-up. On paper, how the starting pitchers match up against each offense appears to give the edge to Baltimore, but nothing has gone according to expectations this postseason, so there’s no reason for it to start now. —Sahadev Sharma