SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
at ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
National League Championship Series Game 3 – Series tied 1-1
First pitch: Wednesday, 4:05 p.m. EDT
Line: St. Louis -120, San Francisco +110, Total: 7
Matt Cain and Kyle Lohse will take the Busch Stadium mound in Game 3 of the NLCS on Wednesday afternoon, looking to give their teams the edge with the series knotted at 1-1.
Both of these pitchers have been fantastic in the 2012 season. Cain has a 2.90 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 17-6 record to date, but he struggles on the road where his ERA and WHIP grow to 3.62 and 1.19, respectively. He has also struggled mightily in the 2012 postseason, where he has compiled a 5.06 ERA and 1.31 WHIP in his two starts, neither of which lasted six innings. Lohse has a 2.82 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 17-3 record so far in 2012 and is even better at home with a 2.33 ERA and 8-1 record. He is 3-0 with a 2.84 ERA in his past five starts and is 1-0 in his two playoff starts with a 2.13 ERA and 0.79 WHIP. With two accomplished starters, this game will likely be won by the better offense, which is clearly the Cardinals. They have 5.6 runs per game and a .322 on-base pct. in the postseason, compared to just 4.1 RPG and a .287 OBP for San Francisco. Although the Giants are a strong road team, the Cards have been money at home with a 51-32 record (.614) at Busch Stadium this year. As just slight favorites, take ST. LOUIS to win at home here.
This pair of two-star FoxSheets trends also side with the Cardinals:
Play On - Home teams (ST. LOUIS) - with a tired bullpen - after 3 straight games throwing 4+ innings against opponent with a hot bullpen whose WHIP is under 1.200 the last 10 games. (71-43 over the last 5 seasons.) (62.3%, +27.6 units. Rating = 2*).
Play Against - Road teams (SAN FRANCISCO) - after 2 straight games where the bullpen gave up no earned runs against opponent with a tired bullpen - after 3 straight games throwing 4+ innings. (117-71 since 1997.) (62.2%, +46.9 units. Rating = 2*).
Dating back to the series against the Reds, the Giants have now won four of their past five, averaging 5.4 runs per game, while giving up just 3.0 per game. This stretch also includes going 3-0 on the road to improve to 49-35 (.583) in away contests in 2012, the third-best road record in the majors. Cain has started against the Cardinals eight times in his career, compiling a 4.94 ERA, 1.42 WHIP and 2-3 record (team is 3-5). The most recent of those starts was August 6 in St. Louis, a start in which he allowed five earned runs on eight hits in 5.2 innings. Although he did not allow an earned run in 21.1 IP in the 2010 playoffs, he has not pitched well enough this postseason to deserve the action. Cain, however, is supported by a bullpen that has a 2.35 ERA and 0.91 WHIP in the playoffs so far.
The St. Louis lineup has been maddingly inconsistent for manager Mike Matheny—in the past seven games, they have scored two or fewer runs three times and scored eight or more runs three times. Overall, the Cardinals are averaging 5.6 runs per game in the playoffs despite hitting just .238. Coming home, where they hit .284 on the season, should only help that. Lohse is 3-2 in five career starts against the Giants with a 3.78 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. He has not pitched against them since last year, but it was a gem, tossing eight innings and allowing just one run on five hits. Lohse is just 1-4 with a 4.42 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 11 career postseason games (6 starts, 5 relief appearances). But like Cain, Lohse is supported by a strong bullpen—St. Louis relievers have a 2.12 ERA in the playoffs. Take him at home.