Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Divisional Series Pitching Matchups & Predictions


Strasburg's first post-season start is upon us. Photo unk via

Strasburg’s first post-season start is upon us. Photo unk via

Last year I went nearly game-by-game, night-by-night with predictions and analysis of the playoffs.  Can’t do that this year, but I am doing some quickie starter match-up analysis to do some Divisional Series match-up predictions.  The current list of probables is mostly guess work, with the help of’s probable pitcher page.  Also using depth charts to make guesses on the probables.

Lets start with the home team.

Washington-San Francisco

Potential Pitching Match-ups:

  1. Game 1: SF@Wash: Jake Peavy vs Stephen Strasburg
  2. Game 2: SF@Wash: Tim Hudson vs Jordan Zimmermann
  3. Game 3: Wash@SF: Doug Fister vs Madison Bumgarner
  4. Game 4: Wash@SF: Gio Gonzalez vs Ryan Vogelsong (if necessary)
  5. Game 5: SF@Wash: Peavy vs Strasburg (if necessary)

The WP’s James Wagner has a nice “how do the Nats fare against Peavy and Hudson” story on 10/2/14 with per-National stats against Peavy and Hudson for the first two games.  And Wagner also just announced the rotation order for the Nats.

Yes, it seems like we’re going to see Strasburg & Zimmermann at home instead of Stras-Gio.

Looking at the match-ups, its easy to say “advantage Washington.”  Strasburg has been hot.  Zimmermann has been even more hot.  We then throw the underrated Fister against Giant’s best starter, then come back with Gio in game 4 on the road, where he’s  going against the erratic Vogelsong.  Hudson has had the Nat’s number for years, but he’s been a train wreck in the 2nd half of 2014.  Peavy has been a bulldog for San Francisco since the trade, but was nearly a 5.00 ERA in the AL.

I’m predicting Washington sweeps the first two at home, loses Bumgarner’s start, then beats SF in game 4 to wrap up the series 3-1.

St. Louis-Los Angeles Dodgers

  1. Game 1: Stl@LAD: Adam Wainwright vs Clayton Kershaw
  2. Game 2: Stl@LAD: Lance Lynn vs Zack Greinke
  3. Game 3: LAD@Stl: Hyun-Jin Ryu vs John Lackey
  4. Game 4: LAD@Stl: Dan Haren vs Shelby Miller (if necessary)
  5. Game 5: Stl@LAD: Wainwright v Kershaw again (if necessary)

St. Louis has already announced that Michael Wacha is *not* in the post-season rotation, which is a huge blow for their chances to out-last the Dodgers.  The game 1 match-up might be the pitching matchup of the post-season, with perennial Cy Young candidate Wainwright going against the likely MVP in Kershaw.  Lynn has gone from being barely a 5th starter to being the #2 guy on St. Louis’ staff, but I don’t know if he’s got enough to get St. Louis the split against Greinke.  Missing Wacha means that St. Louis will have to depend on both Lackey and Miller.  Long odds there.

This series might end up being a sweep frankly; I think LA has the distinct pitching advantage here.  And not having Wacha’s dominance from previous post seasons makes it tough.  Dodgers in a sweep or 3-1 if the Cards can get to either Greinke or Ryu.



  1. Game 1: Det@Balt: Max Scherzer vs Chris Tillman
  2. Game 2: Det@Balt: Justin Verlander vs Wei-Yin Chen
  3. Game 3: Balt@Det: Bud Norris vs David Price
  4. Game 4: Balt@Det: Miguel Gonzalez vs Rick Porcello (if necessary)
  5. Game 5: Det@Balt: Tillman-Scherzer (if necessary)

The 96-win Orioles get rewarded with having to face three Cy Young winners in the first three games.  Their rotation mates are underrated (3rd best ERA in the 2nd half) but certainly not in the same class as what Detroit puts up there.  Baltimore’s best case is to get a split at home, then a split away and get to the 5th game.  I don’t see it: I think this series hinges on whether Verlander is Cy Young-Verlander or inexplicably-bad-lately Verlander.  I’m guessing the former; Detroit wins this series in a sweep or perhaps 3-1.

Kansas City-Los Angeles Angels

  1. Game 1: KC@LAA: Jason Vargas vs Jered Weaver
  2. Game 2: KC@LAA: Yordano Ventura vs Matt Shoemaker
  3. Game 3: LAA@KC: C.J. Wilson vs James Shields
  4. Game 4: LAA@KC: Weaver vs Jeremy Guthrie (if necessary)
  5. Game 5: KC@LAA: Shoemaker v Vargas (if necessary)

The Angels are struggling into the playoffs and have announced they’re going with a 3-man rotation.  Weaver’s history of going on 3 days rest is spotty; one decent start and one blow-out.  Meanwhile the Royals burned their #1 guy in the WC game AND threw Ventura enough to have people question Ned Yost‘s sanity (even moreso than they already were with his multiple bunting).  But the Angels hit, and the Royals’ guys won’t be able to completely put them at odds.

I think the 3-man rotation will backfire, and whether the Royals throw Guthrie or Danny Duffy in game 4 won’t make a difference; they’ll hit Weaver at home and push this to a 5th game, where everybody will be on deck.  Angels in 5.

Lets see if these probable pitchers hold up to guesses made on 10/1/14.

5 Responses to 'Divisional Series Pitching Matchups & Predictions'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'Divisional Series Pitching Matchups & Predictions'.

  1. Once again, I agree pretty much across the board. Much as I hate the Cardinals (aka the Yankees of the NL) I’ll be grudgingly rooting for them to knock the Dodgers off again like they did last year, both because I think they are a weaker team this year than in 2012 and I’d like to see the Nats have their chance at revenge.

    The O’s are also about to come face-to-face with the old adage that pitching wins championships.

    And as for KC, it’s remarkable that a team that doesn’t hit home runs and rarely takes a walk was able to make the playoffs and then win that play-in game DESPITE numerous boneheaded decisions by their manager. I guess, as that overbearing fool Chris Berman likes to say, that’s why they play the game. 😀


    2 Oct 14 at 4:50 pm

  2. The Nats are better in four of the five match-ups, and Fister at his best can beat Bumgarner, who isn’t Kershaw by any stretch of the imagination. The Nats are also better 1-8. So it really comes down to the mental side, mostly in the head (or wherever Hudson said it is – thanks for that little extra incentive, Timmy!). The Nats SHOULD take both the games in DC, not be favored against Bum, but have Gio pitching to close things out. He’s a front-runner, so that would be a good spot for him. My concern would be if the script is flipped, with the Nats down 2-1. I’d start Roark with them facing elimination, but that’s probably not going to happen. My hope would be that the Nats dominate and sweep so it doesn’t become an issue. The more hope the Nats give the Giants, the more they will keep the underdog in it.

    Without Wacha, StL doesn’t have the upper hand in any pitching match-up until game 4. The Dodgers could sweep. But it’s a similar situation as with the Nats. If the Dodgers let the Cards hang around, the Cards’ postseason juju might kick in, and Mattingly might make a mistake or three, and . . . they’ve still got Kershaw for game 5. And I don’t see the Cards stealing all three they need before game 5. But it sure would be nice for the Nats’ sake to have Kershaw (or Wainright) extended to that 5th game start.


    2 Oct 14 at 8:25 pm

  3. Playoff roster is posted. Blevins and Soriano are in; Det is out. Whether Soriano actually gets any meaningful time will remain to be seen. I guess there could have been an argument for Treinen (or Det) over him. Blevins is a little surprising, but he was better than Det over the last couple of weeks.

    On the bench, they apparently decided that Zimmerman made Hairston redundant, which is true.

    Time to get started!


    3 Oct 14 at 10:34 am

  4. So who had Kershaw giving up seven, Wainright six, and Peavy semi-dominating with 91 mph junk?

    Oh well, here’s hoping the warranty on Hudson is finally up.


    4 Oct 14 at 12:02 pm

  5. Playoff reactions so far: wow. Just an unbelievable set of games.

    Playoff roster: definitely surprised Blevins made it over Det. Otherwise no real shockers.

    Todd Boss

    5 Oct 14 at 12:45 pm

Leave a Reply