On Tuesday, the Giants and A's both play their respective Divisional Series Game 3. Both have a chance to be eliminated from those respective series. So, who's more likely to survive?
Yes, the question may be moot by the time the A's first pitch comes (scheduled for 6:07 p.m. PT on TBS). But it's still worth examining. Let's break down a few factors.
For the Giants, they're trotting out Ryan Vogelsong, with Bruce Bochy having effectively gone all Judas on Tim Lincecum by using him out of the bullpen and eliminating him from starting a playoff game. But the move is justified by Vogelsong's pitching recently: 2-0 with a 0.53 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 15 strikeouts in 17 innings over his last three starts. That's darn impressive. Homer Bailey, pitching for the Reds, has a 2.29 ERA and 0.61 WHIP over his last three, along with 22 strikeouts 19.2 innings. Of course, Bailey's helped a little by throwing a no-hitter over that span.
The Athletics offer up Brett Anderson, who pitched quite well for a period of time after returning from major injury, but is just 1-2 with a 4.80 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP in his last three starts. He only lasted 15 innings over that span. By contrast, Anibal Sanchez has been strong as of late, going 1-1 in his last three starts (over 21 innings) and posting a 2.57 ERA and 0.95 WHIP. Sanchez has 22 strikeouts and four walks to Anderson's 10 strikeouts and four walks.
Look, there's no way to sugarcoat it: the Reds have more runs than the Giants have hits. Bailey did give up seven hits and three runs (two earned) when he faced off against the Giants this season, but no one on the Giants has a tremendous amount of success against him on an individual level. The Giants have scored two runs this series, and that's despite facing Bronson Arroyo and getting absolutely bailed out by a Johnny Cueto injury. Cincy, meanwhile, ripped up the Giants in two starts, particularly in the second game, and is only going to hit the ball further in their home park, which doesn't share dimensions with AT&T.
Here's a surprise: the A's already shelled Sanchez once this season, scoring six runs (five earned) in 5.2 innings. That game was on September 20, so it should be fresh in the Athletics mind. Seth Smith went yard against Sanchez that game and owns the pitcher going 6-for-13 with two homers against him. Only Stephen Drew (.278 batting average against) has more than 10 plate appearances against Sanchez. Of course, the Tigers own Anderson this season too: the day before the A's roughed up Sanchez, the Tigers lit up Anderson, who lasted only 2.1 innings while giving up three earned runs. Miguel Cabrera is batting .429 with a .600 OBP in 10 plate appearances against Anderson. Delmon Young has a .400 batting average with a .400 OBP against him.
The Giants have more playoff experience. The Athletics have Moneyball. The Giants don't want to lose to Dusty Baker. The Giants get the first shot at avoiding elimination? That's all I got. Intangibles are overrated.
Both teams have a long road to climb. It starts with Tuesday's games, and it's entirely possible that both teams lose, though the Athletics are actually favored (-1.5) against the Tigers, while the Reds (-1.5) are favored over the Giants.