Wednesday, October 01, 2014

I Am Terrified About Today's NL Wild-Card Game

Was Clint Hurdle high when he opted to start Gerrit Cole Sunday?

I was up in the Bay Area last week, as the Giants backed into the Wild-Card game late last week. And all San Francisco fans could talk about was hoping that St. Louis and Pittsburgh ended the season tied, thereby forcing a one-game playoff to see who would be the NL Central winner (and advance to the NLDS vs. the Dodgers) and who would become the wild card. Luckily, the Reds' Johnny Cueto did his job in the early game, beating the Pirates (giving the Cardinals the NL Central title), and rendering Adam Wainwright's scheduled start moot (Wainwright, who had begun warmups, stopped his program two hours before gametime).

Sure, it would have been great to have had Pittsburgh win, so that Wainwright would have had to have pitched Sunday, thereby pushing him to Game 2 of the NLDS if St. Louis and Los Angeles were to meet.

But now, we've got Pittsburgh's best arm in Gerrit Cole sidelined for the critical one-game play-in game against San Francisco today. And this situation just sucks.

First, let's recap Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle's thinking:

Hurdle started Gerrit Cole in his regular turn in the rotation rather than holding back Cole, either for a possible tiebreaker game today or a wild-card game Wednesday night at PNC Park. The decision had two main facets: Start Cole, their best option, against Cincinnati Reds ace Johnny Cueto, and play for a division title? Or skip Cole, roll the dice with the long relievers and hope for the best?

"There's no way we're going to walk away from an opportunity to win our division," Hurdle said.

There were downsides to both. Cole cannot start Wednesday in the wild-card game, and the Pirates did not control their destiny; even if they had won Sunday, they needed the last-place Arizona Diamondbacks to beat Adam Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals to force a tiebreaker. But starting a long reliever diminished the chances of beating Cueto.

"Everybody wanted to win," Josh Harrison said. "We didn't come into the day saying, let's not throw Cole."

Cole said the team did not worry about what his pitching Sunday would do to the rotation for today or Wednesday, or the extra travel that tying for the division title would have entailed. He also didn't lobby to pitch.

"I was approached with the game plan before I even thought about saying anything," he said.

So now it's Edinson Volquez who starts against the Giants' ace, Madison Bumgarner. That's right, Volquez, the late-trade Dodger last year who went 0-2 in five starts. Volquez, who is 2-2 with a 5.72 ERA in 11 starts against the Giants. Yucch.

I have a bad feeling about this. Get ready to watch the Giants advance to meet Washington; and at that point, these Giants, like zombies, will be hard to vanquish once and for all.

I feel sick. Thanks a lot, Clint.


BJ Killeen said...

Gnats have a losing record against the real Nats. They're going down. If not today, then definitely when they meet up with Washington. The As are done; time for the Giants to go away.

NicJ said...

If you go by game score Madison had his worst outing of the season against Pittsburgh this year. Only went 4ip while giving up 5 runs in a loss.

Hideo Nomo said...

"It doesn't matter if the Giants win, they'll lose to [X TEAM]" is the exactly the kind of thinking that got m...uh, Josh S. in trouble in 2010.

Dusty Baker said...

Yes, then let's go by game score.

Dusty Baker's Toothpick said...

Didn't the Pie Rats kick us around pretty good this year?

Maybe the Dodgers matchup better against the Gnats than the Rats and Nats. Especially now that Puig is all up in Bumgarner's head.

karen said...

Edinson Volquez?? This gives me a whole new respect for Mattingly.

Well, kind of.