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San Francisco Giants at Philadelphia Phillies

by John Ryan

First Game Saturday October 16, 2010 7:57 EST start

Time Lincecum versus Roy Halladay

Phillies in SIX

Then there were four. Four teams left in MLB all contending for the World Championship. Two of the teams, Yankees and Phillies, have already know what it takes to win that coveted trophy. Phillies won in 2008 and have won two straight National League Championships. The Yankees won in 2009 for their 27th World Championship. So, they are proven teams and the favorites to advance to a repeat of last year’s World Series.

In the NLCS game 1 the Phillies will send their ace Roy Halladay to the hill to face the Giants ace Tim Lincecum. Halladay is coming off his dominating no hitter performance in Game 1 of the NLCS last Wednesday. He is a true leader and turned down many appearance invitations including Good Morning America and the David Letterman Show. The reason is that he wanted to stay in his normal everyday routine and not be a distraction to the his teammates.

Halladay is certainly the favorite to win the National League Cy Young this year and based on his accomplishments who would argue. He ranks first in the NL with 21 wins, complete games with nine, innings pitched with 250 1/3. He ranks second in strikeouts with 219, WHIP at 1.04, and second in win percentage. He ranks third in ERA at 2.44 runs per game.

He threw just 104 pitches and kept the ball down in the zone moving the ball in and out of the strike zone at will and had command of all his pitches. he got 12 ground ball outs and 7 fly ball outs. Only one batter, and that was the relief pitcher for Volquez got a line drive type hit, but it was right at right fielder Werth. That truly was the only ball hit sharply by anyone all night off of Halladay.

Over his last three start he has posted a 1.08 ERA and a 0.480 WHIP allowing one home run walking three batters and striking out 19 spanning 25 innings of work. In 18 home starts he has posted a 2.18 ERA and a 1.002 WHIP walking just 21 batters and striking out 121. An exceptional ratio is 3 strikeouts for every walk allowed for a pitcher at the MLB level and Halladay has posted a 6/1 ratio.

Not to be outdone Lincecum has done very well in his own right and has already won two Cy Youngs. Despite having solid season numbers he just isn’t at Halladay’s level of pitching. Lincecum fired a 2 hitter in his NLDS Game 1 start against the Braves, but the Braves were banged up like a MASH unit and were hardly a strong hitting team throughout the season. The Reds were ranked number one or close to it in nearly every offensive category and Halladay made fools of them at the plate.

Over the past three games Lincecum has posted a 0.75 ERA and a 0.625 WHIP allowing one home run and striking out 35 batters in 24 innings pitched. In 22 night starts he posted a 3.34 ERA and a 1.174 WHIP striking out 161 batters spanning 145 2/3 innings worked.

However, the biggest news out Friday from the San Jose Mercury is that he is dealing with another bout of blisters that reappeared during his last start. He stated that it is now fine and calloused over. Well, calluses prevent a pitcher from having he perfect feel of the seams in his hand and his mechanics are not that sound to begin with. One of the reasons his nickname the ‘freak’ applies. This callous/blister could be a real problem the more innings he logs in this series.

There was talk that Bochy would possibly have him pitch game 1,4, and possibly 7. That could be a fleeting thought if this blister reopens again.

For the technical end let’s look at a system supporting Philadelphia that has produced a record of 77-25 for 76% winners since 1997. Play on all favorites with a money line of -150 or more starting a pitcher who walked 1 or less hitters each of his last two outings facing an opponent with a hot starting pitcher posting an ERA less than 2.50 over his last five starts.

Here is a system that has gone 45-29 making 36.1 units since 2005. Play on all dogs in October with a money line of +100 or higher and is a poor base running team averaging 0.5 or less stolen bases per game on the season. SF is a solid 25-14 (+15.7 Units) against the money line facing a NL starting pitcher whose WHIP is 1.150 or better over the last 2 seasons.

Looking at Game 2 taking place at 8:20 EST Sunday the Phillies will have Roy Oswalt on the hill facing Jonathan Sanchez. Oswalt has never lost at Citizen’s Bank Park in his career and this season he has posted a 5-0 record with a 1.76 ERA. For the season he has made 32 starts and posted a 13-13 record with a sparkling 2.76 ERA. Remember, he spent most of the season in Houston where run support was quite low. There is no doubt though that he has been rejuvenated since being acquired by the Phillies and being given a chance to be on a World Championship team.

Sanchez has done well too and he has pitched his best baseball on the road ironically. This is was one of the reasons he was moved up to the two slot in the rotation so Matt Cain could then pitch at home in Game 3. In 16 starts he went just 5-5, but with a strong 2.86 ERA and allowing a .199 batting average.

With the series structured in a 2-3-2 format it is imperative that the Giants win one of the two games in Philadelphia. If they go down 2-0 then they have the even more difficult task of winning three straight home games against the Phillies. If the Phillies go up 2-0 then their thinking becomes win one of those games in San Francisco and then come home leading 3-2 with two home games to play.

So, at the end of the day, with the Phillies having “H2O” in Halladay, Oswalt, and Hamels and add in another hot starter in Joe Blanton for a possible Game 4 start it becomes a very steep mountain for the Giants to overcome. Phillies in 6.

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