Tigers put best 'Fist' forward in Game 2
October, 25, 2012
By Dan Braunstein and Katie Sharp | ESPN.com
Elsa/Getty ImagesDoug Fister will try to even up the series for the Tigers in Game 2 tonight.
So the National League champs are a lock to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the World Series? Not so fast. As many baseball fans know, momentum is as good as the next day’s starting pitcher. And, based on the numbers, Detroit appears to have the advantage in Game 2 tonight. But that was true in Game 1, right?
Doug Fister Stats to Watch
Fister is making his first career World Series start but has shown the ability to shine in the postseason spotlight, going 2-0 with a 1.75 ERA in four starts on this stage.
Fister has been on a roll since the All-Star break, with an 8-4 record and 2.52 ERA in 17 starts including the postseason. This comes after a mediocre start to the season during which he posted a 4.75 ERA with just two wins in 11 starts in the first half.
An improved fastball has been the key to his turnaround.
Since the break, opponents are hitting more than 100 points lower in at-bats ending in a fastball compared to the first three months of the season.
Righties have fared even worse; they are hitting just .184 against Fister’s heater since mid-July after tagging the pitch for a .338 average and .873 OPS in the first half.
Madison Bumgarner Stats To Watch
Bumgarner, on the other hand, has faded down the stretch. He is 2-6 with a 6.85 ERA in his last nine starts, including 0-2 and an 11.25 ERA in two postseason outings.
The pitch that batters have taken advantage of most is his fastball, which is down a mile-per-hour from where it was before those nine starts.
Bumgarner has been unable to establish his fastball early in the count, which has led to him falling behind more batters and the results have not been favorable.
His fastball first-pitch strike percentage is just 56 percent in his last nine starts, 10 percentage points lower than in his first 25 starts.
Opponents have a 1.118 OPS after reaching a 1-0 count against Bumgarner in his last nine starts, compared to .731 in those situations before.
How important is Game 1? Teams to go up 1-0 in the World Series have won the series 63 percent of the time in major-league history, including eight of the previous nine years.
Game 2 might be even more crucial. According to Elias, 50 teams have taken a 2-0 lead in a best-of-7 World Series, and 40 went on to win the title. The last team to erase a 2-0 deficit in the Fall Classic was the 1996 New York Yankees, who won four games in a row after dropping the first two against the Atlanta Braves.