San Francisco (88-74) at Pittsburgh (88-74)
When: Wednesday, October 1st, 2014
Where: PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
Time: 8:05 ET
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By Mike Ivcic
Speaking of the Pirates, here they are yet again. After falling short in their quest to topple the Cardinals in the NL Central, Clint Hurdle’s group will have to summon their do-or-die capabilities to outlast one of the game’s best lefties in Madison Bumgarner. The Giants newfound ace has been stellar this year, going 18-10 with a 2.98 ERA in 33 starts. He has more strikeouts than innings pitched (219 to 217.1) and allowed just 43 walks all season, meaning the Pirates will have to earn their runs. But that shouldn’t really bother Pittsburgh much, as they closed the year with on 17-4 run before dropping the final two games of the year to Cincinnati. They’re one of the hottest teams entering the playoffs and have what has suddenly become one of the best home crowds in baseball.
The issue for Pittsburgh could be the pitching matchup, however, as Edinson Volquez is a notch below Bumgarner. His 13-7 record is slightly deceiving, as he enters this start with a 1.23 WHIP, more than 0.2 points higher than Bumgarner, which translates to almost 2 additional baserunners per 9 innings. That could be more than enough in a one-game playoff scenario to tip the scales to the Giants, who are no stranger to the postseason. Looking for their third World Series in five years, San Fran also benefits from the extra day off as opposed to the AL wild card game, negating any potential effects of the long travel. I really like the Pirates and would love to see McCutcheon and Martin continue on to the divisional round, but I just don’t see the magic this year.
Pick: San Francisco 2, Pittsburgh 1