If the Giants aren’t able to finish off an NLDS sweep of the Nationals later this afternoon they’ll use Ryan Vogelgong to start Game 4 rather than turning to Tim Lincecum.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy also announced that Jake Peavy would start Game 5, if needed.
Lincecum is obviously the much bigger name and avoiding starting the former Cy Young winner in a playoff series would have seemed crazy not so long ago, but he had a 4.67 ERA as a starter this season and a combined 4.74 ERA as a starter from 2012-2014.
Vogelsong hasn’t been a whole lot better, but he did post a 4.00 ERA in 32 starts this season to bounce back from a horrendous 2013 campaign and Bochy seems more confident in his ability to avoid a truly disastrous outing against the Nationals.
After being swept out of the playoffs by the Royals last night Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto was asked if his team’s window for contending was closing and he strongly disagreed, telling Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com:
We had a fantastic season, won 98 games. Our desire was to win a world championship, and obviously we fell short, but I still feel really confident in the foundation of the players that were here. … We’re not a team that can’t sustain and can’t balance what we’re doing. We like the group of players we have; we feel like we’re a well-put-together team. Again, we fell short. Next year, with the full contingent, believing that we will have Garrett Richards back and in large part have a big part of the foundation of this team. We feel we’re tweaks and turns from being a very good team again. There’s no reason that will change.
Spending big on free agents Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, and C.J. Wilson has worked out horribly for the Angels and will continue to hamstring Dipoto, because he has very little payroll space remaining unless owner Arte Moreno approves a big budget increase.
With that said, Mike Trout is the best player in the league at age 23 and having him around erases a lot of mistakes and a lot of iffy payroll-related decisions. There’s no way the window is going to slam shut on a team coming off a 98-win season with Trout and a payroll approaching $200 million, but Dipoto has quite a few issues to address and not a whole lot of roster or payroll flexibility.
Pujols is signed through 2021, Hamilton is signed through 2017, and Wilson is signed through 2016.
Here are the lineups for Game 3 of the Nationals-Giants series in San Francisco:
CF Denard Span
3B Anthony Rendon
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
LF Bryce Harper
C Wilson Ramos
2B Asdrubal Cabrera
SP Doug Fister
With a left-hander on the mound there was lots of talk about the Nationals benching one of their left-handed hitters (Denard Span, Bryce Harper, Adam LaRoche) for Ryan Zimmerman. But manager Matt Williams has decided against it, sticking with the same group he used in the first two games. Zimmerman will once again look to make an impact off the bench.
CF Gregor Blanco
2B Joe Panik
C Buster Posey
3B Pablo Sandoval
RF Hunter Pence
1B Brandon Belt
SS Brandon Crawford
LF Travis Ishikawa
SP Madison Bumgarner
Standard lineup for the Giants, who’re sticking with Travis Ishikawa in left field and get a little offensive boost with Madison Bumgarner and his four regular season homers on the mound.
Obviously very few people expected an Orioles-Royals matchup in the ALCS and the ease with which those two teams dispatched of their ALDS opponents was even more surprising, but here’s an interesting tidbit I just stumbled across:
Baltimore had the American League’s best record in the second half at 44-24 and Kansas City was tied for the league’s second-best record at 41-27.
Every year a lot is made of which players and teams are “hot” heading into the playoffs and most of the time it means nothing, but it’s at least worth noting that the Orioles and Royals were playing really good baseball for months leading up to this surprising ALCS matchup.
Of course, the Angels were too. They were tied with the Royals for the league’s second-best second-half record at 41-27 and it didn’t stop them from getting swept. Detroit was just 37-34 in the second half. And of course the A’s, whom the Royals beat in the Wild Card Game, were 29-38 in the second half.
San Francisco took Game 1 of the NLDS, but not before Washington made things very interesting in part thanks to this massive, 450-foot home run by Bryce Harper off a 97-mph fastball from Hunter Strickland.
Harper doesn’t turn 22 years old for another 13 days.