- Game 1: C.C. Sabathia v. Josh Beckett.
Man is this one going to get some press. However the voting shakes out, this is Cy Young winner vs. Cy Young runner-up. Both are very deserving candidates. Let's look at some individual stats:
- PRC (THT): Sabathia: 131, Beckett: 120. I feel like this is a great way to get into the value of each respective pitcher to their team (VORP leaves something to be desired for me). Sabathia is the clear winner here by 11, but let's not forget the fact that Beckett was only 11 behind in 40 fewer innings. On his pace, he would have collected 141 total in the amount of innings Sabathia pitched.
- FIP (THT): Sabathia: 3.27, Beckett: 3.22. Hold on to your hats, Sox fans, because I'm not sure a difference of .05 is a significant difference in this measure.
- WHIP (THT): Sabathia: 1.14, Beckett: 1.14. Wash, clearly.
- P/PA (THT): Sabathia: 3.7, Beckett: 3.8. Same as FIP. Not sure the difference here is enough to be significant in one game.
- K/BB (MLB.com): Sabathia: 5.65, Beckett: 4.85. This is a significant difference, but let's think about why. Sabathia's BB/9 of 1.38 beat everyone in the AL (qualified candidates) except his teammate Paul Byrd. Beckett has the edge in K/9 with 8.7 over Sabathia's 7.8. However, I think against us that Sabathia has a definite edge here. We're a team that walks a lot, and he was the second best pitcher in the AL at limiting walks, his Game 1 ALDS performance aside. Beckett is more of what you'd call unhittable with his .245 BA against vs. C.C.'s .259 (still a good number).
- Individual Matchups (B-R.com): Look for Bobby Kielty to start against Sabathia somewhere: 1.030 OPS in 32 PAs. "Being" has been "pretty good" as well, with a 1.895 OPS in 23 PAs. Even with C.C. being a tough lefty, Papi's record isn't entirely discouraging (.816 OPS in 19 PAs). Everyone else is either predictably bad or extremely SSS. Against Beckett: Travis Hafner has destroyed him with a 1.694 OPS in 12 PAs. Jason Michaels has had success: 1.255 OPS in 11 PAs, and Kenny Lofton has a very respectable .381 OBP in 22 PAs.
- Verdict: None. I've said it before, the things that really seperated these two this year are number of wins and number of innings pitched. I like to think home field will work to our advantage and give the Sox the edge here.
- Game 2: Fausto Carmona v. Curt Schilling
I'm not going to go into all the numbers I did with the first matchup. This is a rising ace vs. fading ace matchup, and I think this one might come down more to who wears the brass balls than anything else. Also, I kind of enjoyed all those C.C. and Beckett numbers because I think they showed just how close the two are on a per game basis. Okay. I guess we could go into a few of the stats that might end up making a difference.
- BB/9: Carmona: 2.55, Dr. Curtly: 1.37. I like this one (obviously). Not just because the Big Schill has been so effective at limiting walks, but also because pitchers who allow a couple of walks per game are the best kind for the Sox to exploit.
- K/9: Carmona: 5.73, Dr. Curtly: 6.02. This is a small difference, and really serves to highlight how different a pitcher Schilling has had to become. This is his lowest since that year he HBP'd everyone in Little League (story not guaranteed to be true).
- H/9, BA against: Carmona: 8.33, .248, Schill: 9.83, .275. Wow. Ol' Curt has been hittable this season. Not good. Not good at all. I guess it would be to his advantage for the Indians to be looking for a walk, but assuming they're well-prepared for this game, they'll probably come out swinging.
- .SLG against: Carmona: .352, Schill: .445. Again, edge goes to Fausto, and it ends up being very significant.
- Individual Matchups: Extremely SSS against Carmona, so I'm not going to discuss Sox hitters here. Who should Schill be worried about? Eh, mostly SSS here as well, at least amongst players with good results (Victor Martinez: 9 PAs, 1.556 OPS), (Hafner: 9 PAs, 1.000 OPS). He's held Lofton to an OBP below .300 in 28 PAs.
- Verdict: Again, I'm kind of hoping for home cooking and intangibles to be a factor, though in this case, they'll have to provide more than an edge: they'll have to bridge the gap between an extremely young and talented starter vs. an old starter who is relying more on intelligence and (cliche alert) guile than anything else.
By Allen Chace