Scherzer/Verlander? Odds favor Sox to Win ALCS

Only 7 teams have rallied to advance to the World Series, including last year’s Giants, since the LCS expanded to 7 in 1985 and just 2 others were even able to force a Game 7.*

So, the Red Sox have his Tigers’ by the balls; so, why is Jim Leyland still smiling?

John-W-Henry-02913A:  Scherzer and Verlander.

Scherzer is well aware of the Fenway-Friendly Factor in the Pinball Palace:

“…the dimensions is something that does actually come into play, just because you can feel that wall is right behind you. There’s just no room for error. A routine fly ball can be double in Fenway Park, so you just got to make sure that you always execute pitches throughout the whole game.”

But he has reason to feel confident.

Scherzer threw first-pitch strikes to 16 of 25 Red Sox batters (64 percent), putting Sox hitters in unfavorable counts. According to Brooks Baseball, Scherzer threw non-fastballs 40.74 percent of the time. That’s the wisest way to approach players who obliterated fastballs during the regular season, per FanGraphs says that is the best way to attack a fastball-feasting lineup like the Sox.

Scherzer recorded 24 swings-and-misses last time, which was his highest total ever against an American League lineup.

Eno Sarris of Fangraphs offers some insight into what we may see from Scherzer in Game Six:

Max Scherzer has a great changeup. His slider is sharp. He added a curve this year to keep lefties guessing. But early in games, he likes the fastball best.

Over the past two years, Max Scherzer has thrown a fastball on 59% of his pitches. That’s a little more than league average — once you add in all three versions of the fastball (four-seam, two-seam and sinker) this year, qualified starters have thrown the fastball 55.7% of the time. But if you throw a fastball 93-94 miles per hour, like Scherzer does, you might enjoy throwing the pitch.

Early in games, Scherzer goes to the pitch more often. He’s thrown his fastball 67% of the time in his first two innings since the beginning of 2012.

Looks like it could be just the way the world works. The fastball (sinkers, two-seamers and four-seamers) gets the most strikes per ball, so obviously this helps keeps walks down in the early going.

Across baseball, pitchers threw the fastball 59% of the time in the first two innings this year, making Scherzer just a little ahead of league average in that respect. At least, he mirrors the league’s tendency to throw more fastballs early.

In Game One [2013 ALDS] against Oakland, on the other hand, Max Scherzer threw the fastball 78% of the time in the first two innings. In possibly related news, he struck out eleven against two walks in seven innings.

He also got as many whiffs off the fastball as he did on his changeup.

Verlander is just as good, or better:

In the 2013 Post-season he allowed 1 extra-base hit and only 13 baserunners in 23 total innings.

In Game Three against the Sox Verlander pitched well enough for a W, but was bested by a red-hot John Lackey:

IP    H

   R

 ER

 BB

 SO

 HR

 ERA

Verlander(L, 0-1) 8.0    4     1   1   1   1   1  1.13
Lackey(W, 1-0) 6.2    4     1   0   0   8   0  0.00

Like his Cy Young favorite rotation mate, Verlander can mix his pitches.

Recall his game in the ALDS game against Oakland:

“Verlander tied his career high by generating 24 swinging strikes. He got one of those on his slider. Two of them, he got on his curve. Three of them, he got on his changeup. That leaves another 18, which he got on his fastball. That ties another Verlander high, of fastball whiffs during the PITCHf/x era.

As much as people know about Verlander’s secondary pitches, he’s most famous for his heat, and for a while his heat was almost all he needed. Through six innings, three of four pitches were fastballs.

Toward the end, he leaned more on his changeup and curveball, but by then the fastball had been established, so the A’s didn’t know what to expect.” [FANGRAPHS, http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/oakland-detroit-and-a-tale-of-three-fastballs/]

Brooks Baseball says he never fell behind 2-0 in the count during that matchup in Detroit.  In two-strike situations, he used as many breaking balls as 4-seamers.

“Verlander realized early on that A’s hitters were having a hard time catching up to his fastball. He decided to stick primarily with that pitch until they showed that they could hit it. It never happened.” [http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1810962-how-justin-verlander-has-returned-to-dominant-cy-young-form?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_campaign=mlb]

Verlander was most effective in away games in both ERA and strikeout-to-walk ratio.

SPLITS: Regular Season 2013

W

L

ERA

G

GS

CG

SHO

SV

SVO

IP

H

R

ER

HR

HB

BB

IBB

SO

AVG

WHIP

GO/AO

Home Games 6 7 3.73 17 17 0 0 0 0 111.0 109 50 46 9 1 43 1 97 .255 1.37 0.64
Away Games 7 5 3.19 17 17 0 0 0 0 107.1 103 44 38 10 3 32 0 120 .251 1.26 0.84

SPLITS: Regular Season 2013

SPLIT

TEAM

W

L

ERA

G

GS

CG

SHO

SV

SVO

IP

H

R

ER

HR

HB

BB

IBB

SO

AVG

WHIP

GO/AO

Home Games 12 1 3.55 16 16 0 0 0 0 104.0 84 42 41 11 1 23 0 111 .220 1.03 0.69
Away Games 9 2 2.28 16 16 0 0 0 0 110.1 68 31 28 7 3 33 0 129 .177 0.92 0.59

Notice that Scherzer did well on the road with a 9-2 record and had a better ERA than at home.

Game Six will be a re-match of Game Two, where Scherzer won the ERA battle, but the Sox won the game:

DET: Scherzer (0-0, 1.29)

BOS: Buchholz (0-0, 7.94)

 

IP

  H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

ERA

Buchholz 5.2     8  5   5  0  6  2 7.94
Scherzer 7.0 2  1  1   1  2 13  0 1.29

So, what do the money boyz say?

Bovada Sports:

Red Sox   11 chances out of 13

Cardinals   4 chances out of 7

Tigers        1 chance out of 5

Dodgers     2 chances out of 11

[http://sports.bovada.lv/sports-betting/baseball-futures.jsp]

Whether the Sox win the ALCS series in 6 or 7 games, the “smart money” forecasts they will face the St. Louis Cardinals, starting in Fenway, Wed., Oct. 23.

2013 World Series TV Listings

Game Date Matchup Time Channel
1 Wed., Oct. 23 NL Champion @ AL Champion TBD FOX
2 Thurs., Oct 24 NL Champion @ AL Champion TBD FOX
3 Sat., Oct. 26 AL Champion @ NL Champion TBD FOX
4 Sun., Oct. 27 AL Champion @ NL Champion TBD FOX
5 Mon., Oct. 28 AL Champion @ NL Champion TBD FOX
6 Wed., Oct. 30 NL Champion @ AL Champion TBD FOX
7 Thurs., Oct. 31 NL Champion @ AL Champion TBD FOX

Source: MLB.com

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*1985: Royals over Blue Jays
1986: Red Sox over Angels
1996: Braves over Cardinals
2003: Marlins over Cubs
2004: Red Sox over Yankees
2007: Red Sox over Indians
2012: Giants over Cardinals

Source: http://mlb.si.com/2013/10/16/history-shows-dodgers-and-tigers-face-long-odds-for-lcs-comebacks/

Topics: Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, Odds, St. Louis Cardinals, World Series, WS Odds Favor Sox

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