Oakland went cuckoo for Coco Crisp on Wednesday night after the center fielder’s walk-off single capped a thrilling three-run rally in the bottom of the ninth. Oakland’s reward? A date with the Tigers’ ace. Who will go home, and who will advance? Here are the PECOTA odds and projected starting lineups for Game Five:
Projected Starting Lineups:
Tigers vs. Parker (R)
Athletics vs. Verlander (R)
Coco Crisp, CF (S)
PECOTA loves it some Verlander—but can you blame it? The 2011 American League MVP allowed only three hits and whiffed 11 Oakland batters in Game One, and the model expects this Division Series to end precisely how it started: with Verlander doing what he does best.
Here is the 29-year-old righty’s pitch breakdown from the opener:
The most telling line in that table is for the four-seam fastball: Oakland hitters saw 61 of them from Verlander, flailed helplessly 11 times, and only put four in play. If that rate does not tick down tonight, the A’s won’t be any more successful at scoring runs than they were on Saturday, even if Verlander once again doles out four walks.
Crisp has figured prominently in every game during this series—kicking things off with a homer in Game One, costing the A’s dearly with a defensive blunder in Game Two, robbing Fielder of a big fly in Game Three, and then delivering the winning hit last night—so he gets the nod in the Match-up of the Game. He and Verlander have now locked horns 27 times, and Crisp has more than held his own, going 9-for-26 (.346 average) with two doubles in addition to the long-ball on Saturday.
After serving up the home run on the fourth pitch of the game, a 96-mph fastball, Verlander served Crisp a steady diet of soft stuff in Game One. Of the 11 pitches Crisp saw in his three ensuing plate appearances, eight were non-fastballs—five changeups and three curveballs—including each of the last four. It will be interesting to see how Verlander maintains that approach to begin the bottom of the first tonight.
Parker pitched well at Comerica Park in Game One but was done in partly by his own fielding error on a dribbler by Berry. He compiled a 2.61 ERA over 100 innings at the Coliseum this year and allowed only five home runs at home all season. Take a look at his pitch breakdown from the series opener.
Parker was essentially a two-pitch pitcher in Game One, using 64 total fastballs and 24 changeups—a strategy in line with his regular-season mix. The 23-year-old has shown only a modest platoon split in 2012, giving up a 616 OPS to lefties and a 584 mark to righties, using his changeup and living in the outside third of the zone to contain opposite-handed batters, as he did on Saturday. A grudge match with Verlander for all the marbles is an unenviable task, but there’s no one the A’s would rather have toeing the rubber tonight.