SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
at ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
National League Championship Series Game 5 – Cardinals lead series 3-1
First pitch: Friday, 8:05 p.m. EDT
Line: San Francisco +160, St. Louis -150 Total: 7
Barry Zito will try and help the Giants continue their season and send the NLCS back home when they face Lance Lynn and the Cardinals in Game 5 on Friday night.
Lynn had a strong season in 2012, compiling a 17-5 record with a 3.81 ERA and 1.31 WHIP. But he looked dreadful in Game 1 of the series—his lone postseason start—giving up four earned runs in 3.2 innings. Over the past two seasons, he has made 15 total appearances in the playoffs and has struggled with a 5.40 ERA and 1.53 WHIP. Zito similarly struggled in his one postseason start this year, but has historically been a strong playoff pitcher with a 3.45 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in eight starts. Overall, Zito pitched to an impressive 15-8 record despite mediocre splits with a 4.19 ERA and 1.41 WHIP. He also finished the season in his best form of the year—since August 7 he is 7-0 and the team has won all 12 of his starts. Although the Cardinals have the hope of Carlos Beltran (knee) returning to their lineup for Game 5, that should not scare Zito, who has held the switch-hitter to a .227 average in 44 career at-bats. Take SAN FRANCISCO as the heavy road underdog here to stay alive.
This three-star FoxSheets trend also sides with the Giants:
Play On - Road teams when the money line is +125 to -125 (SAN FRANCISCO) - with a starting pitcher whose ERA is 3.70 to 4.20 on the season (NL) against opponent with a starting pitcher whose winning percentage is better than 70%. (33-12 since 1997.) (73.3%, +23.7 units. Rating = 3*).
Lynn looks forward to pitching at Busch Stadium, where he earned a 3.33 ERA and 1.22 WHIP this season. And like Zito, he finished the year on a winning streak—he is 4-0 (team 7-0) in his past seven starts, including the beating he took in Game 1 of this series. A number of those starts have been less than impressive though, with him not making it through the fifth inning in three of them and getting bailed out by the lineup and bullpen. He might need that again given his career splits against the Giants—he is 0-2 (team 1-2) in three career starts with a 7.80 ERA and 1.48 WHIP. Lynn averages just 5.8 innings per start, but that could help him in this one with the St. Louis bullpen racking up an impressive 2.29 ERA in the playoffs. The Cardinals’ September lineup has been good, averaging 5.6 runs per game, and they have won five of their seven playoff contests against southpaws.
In his career, Zito has struggled against the Cardinals. In nine starts, he is 2-6 (team 2-7) with a 4.89 ERA and 1.73 WHIP. Earlier in the season, however, he threw a solid 6.2 innings against them, earning the win in a two-run effort. Like Lynn, he does not pitch deep into games, averaging 5.7 innings per start. But also like Lynn, that may be a good thing with the elite relievers that pitch behind him. Even after the bullpen gave up four runs Thursday, they still have a 3.06 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in the playoffs. And they’ve been mostly good after a few bumps at the beginning of the playoffs, with a 2.03 ERA in their past seven games. They should be able to help Zito to a win in this one and calm down the hot St. Louis lineup.