Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, June 6, 2013 at 7:00 PM
If you’re to believe the statheads and the quants, the National League playoffs are almost already set in stone. There’s such a clear difference between the have’s and the have not’s…and such mediocre play from a few of the early season favorites…that we’re “allegedly” looking at this scenario:
*Atlanta wins the NL East easily (already about 95% to reach the playoffs)
*St. Louis and Cincinnati will represent the NL Central (Cards over 90% to reach playoffs already)
*Arizona and Colorado will represent the NL West (bottom three trending very badly)
*Pittsburgh has a shot to crash the party, but probably won’t.
The biggest surprises so far in the 2013 season are that the Washington Nationals have fallen out of the playoff picture (not about 85% to MISS according to the numbers guys), and that the San Francisco Giants starting rotation has fallen apart (about 80% to MISS the playoffs right now).
That means, any series matching the first five teams we listed will give us a good sense of what the playoffs are going to look like. St. Louis just played Arizona…while Cincinnati just played Colorado. Now, the Cards and Reds are ready for a weekend set in Ohio. Let’s run through the probable pitching matchups and outline the weekend.
St. Louis… Wainwright: 8-3, 2.33 ERA, 1.01 WHIP
Cincinnati…Leake: 5-2, 2.75 ERA, 1.31 WHIP
Wainwright is the defacto ace of what’s mostly been a staff of aces this year in St. Louis. He’s only had one bad start in recent weeks…and continues to mow down the opposition. He’s exactly who the Cardinals want on the mound in the first game of a huge road series.
Leake’s got a stellar ERA, but that WHIP suggests that he’s been a bit fortunate. Guys are getting on base vs. Leake, they’re just not coming around to score. Eventually, the laws of math catch up with something like that. And, it a projected pitcher’s duel with Wainwright, every baserunner is going to matter. Edge to the Cardinals in the series opener.
St. Louis … Lyons: 2-1, 2.66 ERA, 0.89 WHIP
Cincinnati …Latos: 5-0, 2.90 ERA, 1.17 WHIP
Note that this game will be regionally televised by FOX Saturday evening. Tyler Lyons has come out of nowhere to be the latest surprise on the mound for the Cardinals. This franchise knows what it’s doing in the developmental stages…while the rest of the Majors seem to be at a loss for keeping their pitchers productive and healthy. He’s not as good as THOSE numbers because his sample size is so small after just recently joining the rotation…but he’s been more than good enough to get the job done so far.
Latos actually has the more impressive numbers because they reflect a full season of action rather than just a few starts. He’s been the go-to guy for the Reds with the various injuries to Cueto. Latos should have more than five decisions, but he hasn’t been blessed with early run support. Edge to the Reds in this one because Latos is more of a proven quantity.
St. Louis …Lynn: 8-1, 2.76 ERA, 1.09 WHIP
Cincinnati … Arroyo: 6-5, 3.38 ERA, 1.10 WHIP
Note that this game has been time-changed from published schedules to get national coverage on ESPN in the Sunday Night TV window. Lynn has posted ace numbers all season, and has been just as consistent as Wainwright in terms of going deep into games while shutting people down. This is why the Cards are so close to 100% to reach the playoffs already! They have much better pitchers than most everyone else…and they have DEPTH, so they can deal with injuries if they come up.
Arroyo’s stuff has always been fickle. He’s a feast or famine pitcher who’s enjoyed more feasts than famine out of the gate this season. The math would suggest Lynn has the edge. But, Arroyo is capable of hanging with anybody through six innings when he’s on. It’s just that he gets hit harder than most other big names when he isn’t on. Tricky call for the series finale.
JIM HURLEY is likely to have at least one big play in this series this weekend. But, he’s also looking at marquee matchups like Baltimore/Tampa Bay, Cleveland/Detroit, Atlanta/LA Dodgers, and San Francisco/Arizona. You can purchase daily baseball right here at the website with your credit card. Don’t forget that this is a HUGE sports weekend!
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Back Saturday here in the NOTEBOOK to talk baseball Then, Sunday we’ll take an in-depth look at Game Two of Spurs/Heat. Be sure you spend what looks to be the biggest sports weekend of the summer with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!