World Series – Game One
Detroit Tigers -163 at San Francisco Giants +153 (Total: 7)
Justin Verlander vs. Barry Zito
The debate as to which is better, “rest” or “rust” takes its purest form in this season’s World Series matchup. The Tigers will have had a full week off after dispatching the Yankees in humiliating fashion. Meanwhile, the Giants have barely had time to process the improbability of what they have accomplished winning the National League pennant and they are already back on the field. So which is better?
Well, history, at least recent history seems to favor the hustle and bustle of the tested team who struggled to get here. Three of the last four times a team that was pushed the distance met a team that swept their series in four game, the team that went seven emerged victorious. It might seem counter-intuitive; assuming the team that won in a sweep is the better team, or at least playing better baseball, but perhaps there are some more important factors at work. If so, it is hard to argue with the mojo of the San Francisco Giants.
Most will contend that the mojo of the Giants will be immediately quelled by the dominance of Justin Verlander, and it is entirely possible. However, I love the Giants to win the series at +150. Two reasons. The first, Jim Leyland has been reluctant to pitch Verlander three times in a seven game series. In fact, he has never pitched him on short rest in the Playoffs. That means he is slated to pitch games one and five, and then possible some scramble relief in Game Seven if needed, but that’s a far cry from the assumed three wins a Game One, Four and Seven trifecta provides.
The second reason I like the Giants in this series? Here’s an interesting stat for you: the Tigers are 24-12 in games started by Justin Verlander. Admittedly excellent. The Giants? 23-11 in games started by Barry Zito, technically a BETTER winning percentage than Detroit. It feels wrong, and the line reflects the improbability of this stat being true… but it is. The Giants are every bit as successful this season with Zito on the hill as the Tigers are with Verlander.
The last reason I like the Giants (aside from magic, as evidenced by Hunter Pence’s thrice bat-hitting “double” in Game Seven) is that they are defensively superior to the Tigers. The Giants defense up the middle is as good as any in the bigs, and with up to four games being played in spacious hitter-friendly AT&T Park, this bodes well for the Bay Area squad.
It is certainly possible that Verlander slams the door tonight, but it is a pretty steep price to pay once you dig into the stats and get past some of the name value of the two starters. I am taking the Giants tonight at +153 and in the series overall at +150. Even if the Tigers win tonight (they are supposed to win with their ace against SF’s #4) I still like the value of San Fran. However, if they do pull out a win tonight at home, you will never see anything close to as high as +150 the rest of the series, as they become the FAVORITE with a win and Verlander out of the way.
Free Pick: San Francisco Giants to WIN +153