National League Wild Card Game: San Francisco Giants at Pittsburgh Pirates
Date/Time: October 1, 8:00 p.m. ET
MLB Betting Odds From 5Dimes Sportsbook
Probable Starters: SF: Madison Bumgarner (0-0, 0.00) v. PIT: Edinson Volquez (0-0, 0.00)
Moneyline: San Francisco -110
The Pittsburgh Pirates were victorious at PNC Park in last year’s Wild Card Game over the Cincinnati Reds as a hellaciously-loud crowd got to Johnny Cueto, who was uncharacteristically wild and shaken. The Pirates took a 2-1 league in the National League Division Series, but couldn’t get the all-important third win and the season ended in early disappointment. The Pirates are back for another crack and they’ll take on a San Francisco Giants team that has not made the playoffs since 2012, when they won their second World Series in three years. The Giants have made it to the World Series in three of their last four playoff appearances.
Madison Bumgarner will make his seventh career postseason start in this win or go home game. Interestingly, Bumgarner has struggled in the first two rounds of the playoffs, just to pitch great in the World Series. Bumgarner is 1-1 with a 5.23 ERA in the NLDS round and 0-1 with a 7.84 ERA in three NLCS starts. The wild card game is a different animal with no tomorrow, so Bumgarner will have to be sharp. He was sharp most of the season with an 18-10 record and a 2.98 ERA. Over his final 13 starts to end the season, Bumgarner was 8-3 with a 2.29 ERA and a 91/11 K/BB ratio.
Edinson Volquez was down and out as a Major League pitcher. The Pirates took a low-risk shot on him following a 9-12 season with a 5.71 ERA in 2013. Fast forward and here’s Volquez pitching the biggest game of the season for the Pirates. Volquez posted the lowest BB/9 of his career en route to a 13-7 record and a 3.04 ERA for the Pirates. Volquez benefited from the Pirates’ fielding scheme with a lot of shifts and advanced scouting reports as a ground ball pitcher. He felt comfortable pitching to contact and it showed. He posted the lowest strikeout rate of his career, but a lack of deep counts helped his walk rate. Volquez has one career playoff start and he allowed four runs in 1.2 innings.
Bumgarner is 1-3 with a 3.24 ERA in four career starts against the Pirates. He gave up five runs on six hits in his lone start against the Pirates this season. The Giants are 20-13 in Bumgarner’s 33 starts for a profit of 3.69 units.
Volquez is 2-2 with a 5.72 ERA in his career against the Giants. He did not face them in 2014 and he had a 6.08 ERA in five starts against them in 2013. The Pirates are 18-13 in his 31 starts for a profit of 5.31 units.
Free MLB Pick: San Francisco Giants
The biggest difference in last season’s game is that the Pirates had seen Johnny Cueto a lot. They have limited exposure to Bumgarner and unfamiliar lefties have a major advantage over hitters. Even though Volquez has been a different pitcher statistically, one has to wonder how Volquez will fare in this pressure-packed environment. He does not have extensive postseason experience and Bumgarner has a big edge there.