National League Wild Card Playoff: San Francisco Giants at Pittsburgh Pirates

National League Wild Card Playoff:  San Francisco Giants at Pittsburgh Pirates

The National League Wild Card Playoff Game is set for Wednesday as the San Francisco Giants travel to the ‘Steel City’ to take on the Pittsburgh Pirates in a one game shootout. The winner of this game will advance to face the Washington Nationals in a best of five series beginning on Friday. The Giants and Pirates finished with identical 88-74 records. Pittsburgh finished 2 games back of NL Central winner St. Louis while San Francisco was six games back of NL West winner Los Angeles.

San Francisco will start left hander Madison Bumgarner for this ‘make or break’ game. He’s been consistently solid all season long–a real asset for a team that often lacked consistency. Bumgarner finished with a 2.98 ERA overall and the Giants won 18 of his 32 starts. He was even better on the road with a 2.22 ERA and San Francisco winning 13 of his 18 road assignments. Pittsburgh could be a decent challenge for him as they handled left handed pitchers well during the regular season. The Pirates’ offensive numbers against southpaws were in line with their overall performance and they won 20 of their 33 games against lefties for a +3.5 unit profit.

Pittsburgh will counter with right hander Edinson Volquez who really had a ‘career season’ after being a journeyman for much of his tenure in the majors. Volquez finished with a 3.07 ERA overall with the Pirates winning 18 of his 31 starts. He excelled at home with an ERA of 3.12 and his team had a record of 11-6 when he took the mound. Volquez was exceptional during the Pirates’ stretch run–in his last three games he had an ERA of 0.47 and a 0.952 WHIP to go with 21 strikeouts in 21 innings pitched.

While Bumgarner is a top flight pitcher the market seems to be overvaluing him a bit in this situation based on his ‘brand value’. San Francisco made a profit on the road but Pittsburgh was 51-30 at home (tied with several other teams for second best home record in the bigs) and made a +12.9 unit profit. This is certainly the biggest start of Edinson Volquez’s career but he came up big late in the season as Pittsburgh was still in the hunt for a divisional title. We’ll back the Bucs.