This afternoon we’ll see a matchup of two very interesting characters. On one side you have Mike Leake, a guy who is best known for being too impatient to return t-shirts correctly at Macy’s.
On the other you have Barry Zito, the Giants’ resident master of both Zen and avocado scrambles, a man who can build up a lot of good will if he saves the Giants from elimination for one more day.
The playoffs are the time when aces clash. Leake and Zito are not aces.
In 2010, much was made of the San Francisco Giants being a team of “misfits.” Fast forward to Game 4 of the NLDS, and that term applies to the starting pitchers. Neither Leake or Zito were guaranteed a postseason start, and Leake was announced as Wednesday’s starter on Tuesday evening.
Neither pitcher is known for strikeouts (Leake struck out 5.8 batters per nine innings; Zito’s K/9 was 5.6). Leake gives up a shade more in terms of hits and homers, while Zito walks more batters. Leake’s 2012 WAR is slightly higher than Zito’s, regardless of where you look. And not that it matters for the purposes of today’s game … but while Zito pulled down $19 million during the 2012 season, Leake made $507,500.
How they got here
Zito – The fact that the Giants won in each of his last 11 starts helped. The Giants also needed to bring all viable arms with them to the playoffs, and Zito isn’t exactly the “reliever” type for several reasons.
Leake – Johnny Cueto hurt his oblique at the beginning of Game 1, and apparently hit his oblique badly enough for the Reds to keep him off the roster through the NLCS. Leake was next in line.
Zito – He has the most playoff experience of any pitcher on either roster … but each of those 44.1 innings came in 2006 or earlier. Zito was thought to have made a large portion of his huge contract with the Giants with his 8-inning, 1 ER performance in the ALDS against the Twins. The Giants weren’t scared off by Zito’s next start, a 3.2-inning, 5 ER clunker in the ALCS against Detroit. Four of Zito’s seven postseason starts have been quality starts.
Leake – After going 8-4 with mediocre stats in his rookie year, the Reds left Leake off their 2010 playoff roster.
Zito vs. the Reds
In two starts against Cincinnati this season, Zito went 12 innings with an ERA of 1.50. Pretty nice! However, he walked one more Red (8) than he struck out (7). In one start at Great American Ballpark Zito went 6 innings, allowing just one run on a solo home run by Scott Rolen. Zito won’t have to deal with Rolen today, however, as Todd Frazier (3-for-5 with a HR lifetime vs. Zito) will start at third.
Leake vs. the Giants
His first career complete game came at AT&T Park on June 29, a 9-hitter where Pablo Sandoval (who’s 7-for-10 with 2 HR against Leake) scored the Giants’ only run on a solo homer. The Giants were 0-for-8 with RISP that day, which surely frustrated the hitters and Bruce Bochy. Even more upset after that game was Matt Cain, who gave up a HR to Leake:
Leake doesn’t walk much at the plate either, but he hit .295 with a couple home runs this season. Zito won’t get a break today.
Bad news for the Giants
Among the hitters in today’s starting lineup, Cincinnati’s collective slash line against Zito: .320/.416/.485
Good news for the Giants
Among the hitters in today’s starting lineup, San Francisco’s collective slash line against Leake: .396/.407/.724
(Prediction: the final score of this game won’t be 2-1.)
Good news for those of you near North Beach while this game takes place
My wife and I will be at The Boardroom watching Game 4, gearing up for the BASG Meetup/Raffle taking place later in the day. The Meetup will have freshly delivered pizza from Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria (around 7 pm) and several prizes we’ll be giving away, including a Vernon Davis autographed football, Warriors lower level tickets, Giants bobbleheads and more.