NLDS13(1)

NLDS 2013 Preview: Pitching

We've broken down the positions, now it's time to look at the pitchers. 

The match-ups have been set for GMs 1 & 2, with the Pirates looking to toss Liriano and Morton in GMs 3 & 4 versus the to be determined order from the Cardinals that will include Joe Kelly and Shelby Miller. 

All WAR information is from FanGraphs

GM1: Adam Wainwright (6.2) vs AJ Burnett (4.0) -

Left for dead by the Yankees after 2011, the AJ. Burnett everyone expected to blossom into a superstar has had a nice 3rd career act for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Signed as a guy in 2012 to show the Bucs fans that 'hey, we're sort of trying' guy, he's now back on the big stage for the 6th time. 

Trouble is, he's also not as good as you'd think in the postseason. 2-2 with a 5.08 ERA. 1.410 WHIP and never going more than 7 innings (i.e. not one of his starts was dominant enough where the manager didn't go to the pen). And he's going against Adam Wainwright, right?

Uh oh. It's easy to forget… mainly because we want to forget… but Wainwright was TERRIBLE last post-season against the Nationals in the NLDS. 7.88 ERA. 2.00 WHIP. 8 innings TOTAL pitched. He redeemed himself in the NLCS with a quality start, but on the whole, the 2012 Wainwright postseason wasn't commensurate with his 'Franchise Ace' tag.

ADVANTAGE: CARDS (But it's not as big as you'd think)

GM2: Gerrit Cole (2.3) vs Lance Lynn (3.3) -

The most pivotal game in the series is going to come down to two pitchers we're still a bit unsure about. Cole is a rookie and Lynn, for all the time we've spent talking about him is really only in his second full season of being a starter in the bigs. 

Lynn does have a postseason history. He's 3-2 with a 4.50 ERA and 1.545 WHIP. He's only started 2 games, though. Both in the NLCS last year. And neither game went well. 7.1 total IP. 8 runs, but only 4 earned. 1.773 WHIP. 

Cole? He's had a nice season. 10-7, but only 117 innings tossed. The 3.22 ERA is good, but only has 100Ks to 28 BBs. We have no idea how he's going to respond to the postseason, but we do know that the Pirates are pitching him in GM2 and telling him (even if their down 0-1) that this game isn't do or die.

In the end, Lynn got the nod in GM2 because of his Home/Away splits. His BA allowed is 30 points lower at home. Slugging is down almost 80 points at home. OBP is down 31 points. He's better at home. And the Cardinals are at home.

ADVANTAGE: CARDS (Can't trust a rookie in the postseason)

In game 3, Liriano will be back and will have a large advantage over either Miller or Kelly in Pittsburgh. He's not only having an excellent 2013, he's also already killed the Reds in this postseason. He'll be jacked for the Pirates first NLDS game at home. ADVANTAGE: BUCS

In game 4, Charlie Morton will get the nod against either Miller or Kelly (I'd guess Miller) and we're back to a real toss-up. We have no idea what kind of pitcher Miller is in the postseason, so this will be fascinating to watch. ADVANTAGE: TOSS-UP

Bullpen: ADVANTAGE: CARDS

Closer: ADVANTAGE: BUCS

So it winds up being 7-6-1 when you take all the position players and pitchers into account, including the GM5 pitching match up between Wainwright and Burnett. The season series was as even in wins and losses as you can get (10-9 Pirates).

PREDICTION: 3-2 CARDS

If you missed PART I of the NLDS Preview, you can find it HERE.

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