After a Royals sweep over the Baltimore Orioles yesterday, both League Championship Series’ have the possibility of ending rather abruptly. The Giants hold a commanding 3-1 lead over the St. Louis Cardinals after also winning yesterday at home for the second straight game. Now, San Francisco has the chance to close out the series on its home field with its best pitcher on the mound. Madison Bumgarner takes the mound against Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals.
It’s been a discouraging playoff run for Cardinals’ ace Adam Wainwright. After a strong September, Waino entered the playoffs with some arm troubles. And an inability to get his arm in the proper arm slot to throw his cutter effectively has made him a different pitcher two starts into October. Wainwright has failed to make it out of the fifth inning in either start, giving up 17 hits and eight earned runs in those two outings.
But the man who led the league in innings pitched again this season doesn’t have enough wiggle room for a shaky start. His team needs him to revert to form if they want to stave off elimination and take down the Giants in AT&T Park. And while I do expect Wainwright to battle harder than he has for the first two outings this postseason, I’m not sure I feel particularly confident that he’ll go deep into the game and shut down the Giants. If the Cardinals can get six tough innings out of their starter and turn the game over to the bullpen, Mike Matheny will probably be satisfied.
But will it be enough? Madison Bumgarner has been the brightest individual star of the postseason so far, winning three games with with a 0.76 ERA in nearly 24 innings. With Bumgarner it usually comes down to command. And he’s been great in that department, limiting his walks to just three and consistently pounding the strike zone with quality strikes (he hasn’t given up a home run yet). But the Cardinals have a sort of aura about them, and it just doesn’t seem right that they would bow out in five games without at least knocking Bumgarner out of the game. He’s dominant when he’s on, but Bumgarner hasn’t entered that level of elite starter because of his consistency. Something tells me St. Louis gets to him for at least a few runs and this one goes over with Wainwright giving up a couple runs himself. The line is certainly low enough.
Free Pick: Over 6 (-115)
YTD: 41-28-3 +7.64