Last night’s National League Wild Card Game lived up to the billing, as each of Noah Syndergaard and Madison Bumgarner were fantastic. In the end, the difference was Bumgarner’s efficiency early, which allowed him to go the full nine innings, whereas Syndergaard, who was visibly more dominating but required more pitches to get those strikeouts, was maxed out on pitches by the seventh inning. It was a reminder that, in the playoffs, sometimes you’ve just gotta grind that starting pitcher out of the game if you can, even if there is a theoretically good bullpen waiting behind him.
(For the Cubs, though, the Giants do not have a good bullpen waiting behind their solid starting pitchers, so, grind away.)
- So it’s the Giants, who won their 11th straight postseason series last night by beating the Mets 3-0 in the game. It is a simultaneously crazy and silly statistic, but it includes only two Wild Card Game “series,” so even if you took those out, it would be nuts. If the playoffs were a true 50/50 crapshoot, the probability of winning 11 consecutive series would be 0.049%. Yes. That’s right. What the Giants have done in the last four even-numbered years is utterly astounding.
- But the Cubs will have a very good chance to bust that whole thing up. Although I often remarked that I preferred the Mets matchup in the NLDS because of their decimated pitching staff, that shouldn’t have led you to believe that the Cubs wouldn’t still be the favorite against the Giants. Are the Giants “hot” right now? Do they have the “momentum”? I don’t really know how much stock I put in those things, at least as compared to the fact that the Giants were the worst team in baseball in the second half. The Giants rotation is good, especially in a short series, but so is the Cubs’ rotation. Arguably better. The Cubs’ bullpen is much better. The Cubs’ defense is better. The Cubs’ lineup is better. The Cubs have home-field advantage. The Cubs are still the favorite in this series.
- How much of a favorite? Well, FanGraphs has the Cubs’ chances at 56.7%. FiveThirtyEight has the chances at 68%. As far as short-series playoff match-ups go, those make the Cubs a strong favorite. Of course, as you know by now, sometimes the 32 to 43 percentage chance thing happens. Just try to enjoy the games, right?
- The Giants will start Johnny Cueto in game one, and then it’s a bit up in the air. It sounds like Bruce Bochy is leaning toward having Jeff Samardzija and Matt Moore go, in some combination, in games two and three, and Madison Bumgarner starting game four. If the Cubs go up 2-0, though, I’d expect Bumgarner instead to start game three.
- It went for naught, but Curtis Granderson’s run-saving catch in the sixth inning was incredible:
- It went for naught because of this game-winning, three-run homer by Conor Gillaspie in the 9th inning:
- So much more to come on the looming series.