Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, September 30, 2014 at 7:00 PM
Washington awaits the winner of Wednesday Night’s San Francisco Giants/Pittsburgh Pirates showdown in the National League Wildcard game. Wednesday’s survivor will be a clear underdog to the hard-finishing Nationals…but both the Giants and Bucs are capable of going deep in the NL brackets. It’s the playoffs…anything can happen!
Pittsburgh may have lost a gamble this past weekend when they threw top pitchers in hopes of winning the NL Central in their race with the St. Louis Cardinals. That didn’t work out, which leaves their 2014 hopes on the arms of much ridiculed but resurgent Edinson Volquez. Let’s run some numbers and see if the Pirates can bounce back from that failed bet.
San Francisco: 4.10 runs per game, .311 on-base, .388 slugging
Pittsburgh: 4.21 runs per game, .330 on-base, .404 slugging
The Pirates do enter the game with the slightly superior offense. Both teams play their home games in pitcher’s parks. The Giants generally take the worst of it in that regard. But, even adjusting for that, the Bucs deserve the nod offensively on their home field. Keep in mind moving forward that whoever wins this game will have a better offense than the media realizes. When will pundits ever make park adjustments! We talked often about that during the season. Both Pittsburgh and San Francisco have good offenses.
Madison Bumgarner: 2.98 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 9.1 K-Rate, 6.6 IP-per-Start
Edinson Volquez: 3.04 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 6.5 K-Rate, 6.1 IP-per-Start
Bumgarner had ace caliber stats across the board. Volquez turned his career around, but many believe that it was having great defenders behind him in a smart analytic defensive framework that did the trick. His K-Rate is still low for a big-game starter. And, he’s likely to last at least a half-an-inning less than Bumgarner. If Volquez’s defense still has his back, then “pitch-to-contact” can hold the fort for six innings before the bullpen decide who wins. In our view, Bumgarner gets the nod in this starting comparison because of his clear edges in the last three categories above.
FULL SEASON MARKET
San Francisco: 88-74 record, +8 units
Pittsburgh: 88-74 record, +6 units
Very similar teams obviously. Backers of both teams made some profit…but didn’t exactly rake it in given that the two teams were a combined 28 games over .500. Pittsburgh did more to outperform estimated Win Totals from before the season started, but ultimately made a couple units less in profit.
Current Line: San Francisco -115, total of 6.5
The market seems right on the money based on JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats. Bumgarner is more respected than Volquez, but the Pirates can do enough on their home field to make this a virtual coin flip. If you believe that Volquez is going to be exposed in a high pressure situation, then the combination of Giants and Over might make sense given that low total. Just remember that a lot of bettors lost BIG this year because they kept anticipating a Volquez demise that didn’t happen.
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We’ll devote Tuesdays and Wednesdays to playoff coverage here in the NOTEBOOK this month. Tomorrow it’s back to the NFL as we run the numbers in the Minnesota/Green Bay game on CBS. This weekend, we’ll be looking at Cincinnati/New England in the Sunday Night game, and Seattle/Washington on Monday Night.
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