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Previewing the Giants/Nationals NLDS pitching matchups

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Gio Gonzalez will pitch Game 4, if necessary, but the Giants are being coy about who they'll start.

H.Darr Beiser-USA TODAY Sports

The rotations for both the Giants and Nationals are set for the first three games of the National League Division Series, with Adam Kilgore reporting that Tanner Roark will pitch out of the bullpen, which means Gio Gonzalez will likely start a Game 4, if necessary. Here's what we know:

Game 1 @ Nationals Park
Jake Peavy
3.73 ERA (2.17 w/Giants)
4.11 FIP (3.03 w/Giants)
100 ERA+ (161 w/Giants)
202⅔ IP, 158 K, 63 BB, 23 HR (78⅔ IP, 58 K, 17 BB, 3 HR w/Giants)

vs.

Stephen Strasburg
3.14 ERA
2.94 FIP
119 ERA+
215 IP, 242 K, 43 BB, 23 HR

Game 2 @ Nationals Park
Tim Hudson
3.57 ERA
3.54 FIP
98 ERA+
189⅓ IP, 120 K, 34 BB, 15 HR

vs.

Jordan Zimmermann
2.66 ERA
2.68 FIP
141 ERA+
199⅔ IP, 182 K, 29 BB, 13 HR

Game 3 @ AT&T Park
Madison Bumgarner
2.98 ERA
3.05 FIP
117 ERA+
217⅓ IP, 219 K, 43 BB, 21 HR

vs.

Doug Fister
2.41 ERA
3.93 FIP
155 ERA+
164 IP, 98 K, 24 BB, 18 HR

Game 4 @ AT&T Park*
MYSTERY STARTER

??? ERA
??? FIP
??? ERA+

vs.

Gio Gonzalez
3.57 ERA
3.02 FIP
105 ERA+
158⅔ IP, 162 K, 56 BB, 10 HR

Game 5 @ Nationals Park*
Jake Peavy vs. Stephen Strasburg (see above)

I'm assuming that Matt Williams is taking the Giants' struggles against left-handed starters into account by choosing Gonzalez over Roark, though it should be noted that the Giants' OPS against left-handed starters would increase by 200 points if Clayton Kershaw's starts weren't included. That's just a guess, but I'm pretty sure it's accurate within two or three points.

Gio Gonzalez didn't have the greatest season -- his 105 ERA+ was just a tick above average for a starter -- but the nerd stats suggest he was better than that (3.02 FIP, which would have been the sixth-best mark in the NL if he qualified). Of course, those same nerd stats tell us that Ryan Vogelsong (3.85 FIP) was better than Doug Fister (3.93 FIP).

/spits

Don't have much call for no nerd stats 'round here. Although it would be a welcome development if Fister were super overrated and lucky, somehow I don't think that's the case. And in a similar vein, I know what the fielding-independent stats suggest about Roark and Gonzalez -- that Gonzalez is substantially better -- but I'm not upset about Williams's decision. The Giants haven't won a game that Gonzalez has started since he was traded to the Nationals, yet Roark scared me more.

I guess if we knew why our biases existed, we probably wouldn't have those biases.

As for the other guys, well, they're good. The Nationals have one of the lowest team ERA+ marks in history, and Strasburg, Zimmermann, and Gonzalez are all in the top 15 in starter FIP. If you like ol'-fashioned ERA, the Nationals had four of the top 20 ERAs, including two in the top 10 (Fister/Zimmermann).

So this should be fun.

Except, was it over when Cliff Lee started for the Phillies in the 2010 NLCS?

Screen_shot_2014-10-02_at_3.33.19_pm

No. It wasn't over. Was it over when Justin Verlander started against the Giants at the peak of his powers against Barry Zito?

Verlander_medium

Wow, it really wasn't. This isn't the time to wallow in the potential two-hit shutouts that you're sorta waiting for. The Giants have been here before. THE GIANTS HAVE BEEN HERE BEFORE. LET'S DO IT.

Though, on the whole, I sure would feel more comfortable if the Nationals had crappier pitchers.