We'll have two LDS games on Tuesday, and in both series a team from the Bay Area comes in down 0-2. Can either the Oakland Athletics or San Francisco Giants rally to advance to the LCS? Our experts discuss that, and other pressing issues, in today's Triple Play.
1. Who has a better shot at winning their LDS, the A's or Giants?
Eric Karabell (@karabellespn), ESPN Insider: At least the Athletics are heading home, where they won 50 games this season, for three games. Plus, the Tigers have not been a good road team. The Giants had their chances at home, including one game in which the Cincinnati starting pitcher left in the first inning, and they managed two runs total. Oakland has looked sloppy. Their bullpen is probably tired. However, they're back in Cali and the Giants aren't. The A's are a better bet.
Jason Wojciechowski (@jlwoj), Beaneball: Oakland. The Giants have to take three on the road from a 97-win team. The A's have to take three at home from a team that finished with a worse record than the Rays and Angels, who are sitting at home. More? The Giants will have to win a Barry Zito start.
Matt Meyers (@mtmeyers), ESPN.com: The A's not only come home, but they are great at home, going 50-31 there this season. For that reason alone, I think they're more likely, but I won't rule out the Giants either. The Reds are not exactly throwing out any pitchers that would frighten you in the next three games.
2. Inspired or stupid: Starting Brett Anderson after not having pitched in three-plus weeks?
Karabell: It's more inspired than stupid, because it shows faith in a veteran that worked hard to come back from Tommy John surgery, and Anderson certainly has upside. In his first four starts this season he permitted two earned runs. Sure, Anderson struggled in his last outing before hurting his oblique, and it was against these Tigers, but he's healthy now. If he struggles, just do what Cardinals manager Mike Matheny did with Jaime Garcia Monday and get him out early, but I like the show of faith.
Wojciechowski: Neither. Anderson is returning from an oblique injury and would have been ready to go in the wild-card game had the A's not won their division. He's one of their top four pitchers, and he's healthy enough to pitch. It's a pretty easy decision for Bob Melvin given that the alternative is rookie Dan Straily.
Meyers: I think it's inspired. Anderson is their best pitcher, and he showed it for the few weeks he was healthy this season. In fact, he's been very good whenever he's been healthy in his career, it's staying on the field that has been the problem.
3. Inspired or stupid: Leaving Tim Lincecum out of the rotation in favor of Ryan Vogelsong and Barry Zito?
Karabell: It's partially inspired. I like Vogelsong for Game 3, since he had by far the best road numbers of this trio, but I don't get Zito's inclusion against a very right-handed Reds lineup. It's not like any of these fellows was Kris Medlen in September, either. Perhaps it's all about Lincecum's 6.43 road ERA this season. Vogelsong and Zito were better. Just have Lincecum warming up at the first sign of trouble each game.
Wojciechowski: Neither (again). The case for Lincecum relies on his 4.22 FIP to Zito's 4.53 along with the Reds hitting better against lefties. However, that FIP gap isn't large and Bruce Bochy might be focused on Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, both lefty swingers. It could come down to Lincecum having an arm and warmup routine that lets him be an asset out of the bullpen while Zito does not.
Meyers: This is stupid. Lincecum has actually been much better in the second half of the season, and I'd feel dumb if I lost this series with The Freak on the bench and Zito on the bump. I could be proven wrong if Lincecum pitches high-leverage innings in the next two games, and I hope Bruce Bochy is aggressive with the way he uses Lincecum.