Right now, Philadelphia seems like it is riding a runaway train towards the World Series on the strength of its pitching staff. That is borne out in the AccuScore forecasts with the Phillies being sizable favorites at 58 percent. Their rotation led by Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels is also backed by a potent lineup that will surely test San Francisco.
GIANTS vs PHILLIES
The pitching match-ups for this series are very intriguing, as are the underlying projections. Game 1 is possibly the featured showdown of the entire playoffs with Mr. No-No Halladay going against “The Freak” Tim Lincecum. While most might expect this to be close the simulations don’t see it that way with Halladay winning 60 percent of the time at home. Lincecum though is the slight favorite at 52 percent when pitching in San Francisco for Game 5.
The Giants made the decision to switch Jonathan Sanchez and Matt Cain in the rotation with Cain now slated to pitch Games 3 and 7 against Hamels. Sanchez would pitch Games 2 and 6 opposing Oswalt. This makes a big difference in the projections for Game 2 as the Phillies go from 57 percent favorites to 67 percent going against Sanchez. This seems a bit high considering how good Sanchez has been recently, but could be attributed to his much higher walk rate compared to Cain. Starting Cain though does significantly close the gap in a potential Game 7 (from 28 percent to just 10) so there are still benefits to this alignment.The change in rotation only reduces San Francisco’s chances in the series by one percent.
In the match-up of fourth starters, talented youngster Madison Bumgarner is projected to give the Giants a solid edge (60/40) over Joe Blanton and the Phillies in what could be a critical game in the series. San Francisco is a significant underdog in each of four games in Philadelphia so winning at home will be crucial.
Another issue will be the bullpens for each team. The Phillies feature several power-hitting lefties including Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Raul Ibanez. The Giants have Javier Lopez and Jeremy Affeldt as specialists. Lopez did his job twice against the Braves, but Affledt didn’t get into a game. The Giants also may have issues with their set-up men as Sergio Romo wasn’t very effective in the NLDS, and closer Brian Wilson isn’t quite Mo Rivera. The Phillies only needed to use their bullpen in Game 2, and while Brad Lidge has a shakey history he’s only allowed 2 earned runs since August.