On Tuesday we took a look at the Giants and Athletics and determined who had the best chance of surviving their respective divisional series Game 3's.
Since both won -- thereby avoiding elimination -- let's run through it again, shall we?
The Reds were put in a vexing position with their loss on Tuesday: Mike Leake was called up to replace Johnny Cueto on the roster through the NLCS and they're rolling him out there. On the year, Leake posted a 4.58 ERA over 179 innings and struck out 116 while walking 41. Leake faced the Giants once and went nine innings, allowing a single earned run. That game was in San Francisco though -- on the road this season, Leake posted a 3.65 ERA, substantially better than the 5.54 ERA he posted at home this season. He'll face off against Barry Zito who posted a 4.15 ERA in 2012. Zito was only slightly better at home this year, posting a 4.00 ERA there versus a 4.34 ERA on the road. He started two games against the Reds in 2012, going 0-1 with a 1.50 ERA, seven strikeouts and eight walks over 12 innings. Yikes, eight walks.
Max Scherzer, the Tigers second-best pitcher, will take the mound for Detroit. Scherzer posted a 3.74 ERA over 187.2 innings this year, striking out a whopping 231 batters. Scherzer was slightly better at home (3.51 ERA) than he was on the road (3.92). He started a pair of games against the A's, going 1-0 with a 3.74 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 8.1 innings. Rookie A.J. Griffin was better on the road (2.90 ERA) than at home (3.21) and got shellacked in his on start against the Tigers, giving up five earned runs in 4.2 innings, though the game was at Comerica Park.
The Giants have to be licking their chops for the Leake matchup. Hunter Pence has a .333/.333/.944 line with a homer and two RBI against Leake. Pablo Sandoval has two homers and a .700 batting average in 11 at bats against Leake. Buster Posey's hitting .500 against Leake with a homer. Even pinch-hit specialist Aubrey Huff has a jack against Leake. (That doesn't mean you should start him, Bochy.) Brandon Phillips (.421/.520/1.099 in 25 plate appearances) owns Zito. Ryan Ludwick's got a homer, 3 RBI and 5 walks against Zito in 31 plate appearances. Jay Bruce, Scott Rolen, Miguel Cairo and Todd Frazier have also gone yard against him.
Only Cliff Pennington has hit a homer against Scherzer for the Athletics, and no one has more than 10 plate appearances. The number of strikeouts -- 12 in 45 plate appearances for the full team -- should terrify the Athletics. Griffin's obviously got limited exposure (one game) to the Tigers, but BOTH Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder went yard against him this year, as did Jhonny Peralta. Scary matchup of bats for the Athletics.
It's interesting because, should the A's hold on, the Tigers can still turn to Justin Verlander. That's no fun for the Athletics. On the other hand, Mat Latos will take the mound for the Reds. There's few players that the Giants hate more than Latos. Additionally, the Reds rotation is in a bit of turmoil, and, as we know, they recently lost their ace with Johnny Cueto getting booted from the roster for Leake. Pence has the Giants fired up, but Coco Crisp is doing crazy things in the outfield.
So clearly I like the Giants chances better. But then again, they're starting Barry Zito. That's not comforting. Vegas apparently agrees, making the Giants 1.5-run underdogs and making the Athletics 1.5-run favorites in Oakland. I understand being on the road versus home and all, but I'm not sure the matchups dictate those sort of lines. Money-line wise, the Giants are +134 (the Reds are -144) while the Athletics are -106 (and the Tigers are -104), which is much closer to telling you the Tigers are a good bet to win here.