Personal history and numbers don't always guide on-field performance, but they can give us a quick insight into who carries the advantage -- if ever so slight -- into a particular game. Tale O' Tape breaks down the starting pitchers to find an edge.
It should be noted that we haven't erred in this feature. The one questionable game was Game 2 of the ALCS, and Mullet proclaimed that it would be high-scoring. I'd say that game qualified, so that means we've called every single clear-cut starting pitching advantage. I'm not so much tooting our horns as I am realizing how important these numbers are. Obviously, this is why managers spend so much time looking through those binders in the dugouts. It really does matter, to an extent.
Personally - The 24-year-old cancer survivor flashed glimpses of his enormous potential early in the season, including a no-hitter, and is now in the process of becoming a full-fledged top-of-the-rotation ace. He had the occasional bad outing (like on August 23rd and September 20th), but he's still been locked in for most of the season. If you throw out his first six starts, his season line would be 15-4 with a 2.82 ERA. He's also stepping it up when it matters most, because through two starts and 14 innings in the playoffs he has yet to yield a run. His WHIP is below 1.00 and he's punched out 11 hitters.
Home Splits - The kid likes the comfort of Fenway. His home ERA (2.49) obliterates his road ERA (4.09). He's 11-1 this year at home.
History against Tampa - He's taken the ball three times against the Rays this season, and the results are sparkling. He won each of the three games after only allowing two earned runs in 20 innings. Yep, that's a 0.90 ERA to go with 19 strikeouts and only six walks.
Vs. Specific Hitters - Carlos Pena has had some good success against Lester. He's 5-16 (.313) with a double, two homers, and six RBI. Jason Bartlett is 4-8, Evan Longoria is 2-6, and Willy Aybar is two doubles for six. Akinori Iwamura does have a nice .435 OBP against the youngster. Dioner Navarro is 2-7. On the bad side of things: Carl Crawford only sports a .553 OPS and B.J. Upton is 4-18 (though he does have a home run).Matt Garza
Personally - Though not nearly to the same extent as his counterpart in this game, Garza also enjoyed a breakout campaign of sorts. He had some ups and downs, but threw two shutouts and completed three games en route to a 3.70 ERA in 30 starts. He comes into the game looking to right the ship after a rocky first postseason start. He went six innings, but allowed five runs on seven hits and four walks. He'll need to get that command under control against a much more well-rounded lineup in Boston than Chicago.
Road Splits - This is not great news for the Rays. Garza is tons better at home. His road ERA is 4.53. During the regular season 14 of his 19 allowed home runs were on the road. His road WHIP of 1.30 leaves a lot to be desired as well.
History against Boston - He worked 22 innings in four starts this season against the Sox, and rang up a 4.50 ERA. He allowed 21 hits and walked seven, so the baserunners were a big issue.
Vs. Specific Hitters - David Ortiz has only gotten two hits in ten at-bats against Garza, but both were home runs. J.D. Drew has a double and a home run in only five at-bats. Jacoby Ellsbury has reached base in seven of his 14 plate appearances. Jason Bay has not faced Garza. On the down side, Dustin Pedroia is only 3-14 and Kevin Youkilis only has one hit in 12 tries.Edge
Clearly the edge in this game stands with Lester and the Red Sox. They should take this one and a two-games-to-one lead.