How windy the Windy City?
Who’s going to win Game 4 in Chicago this afternoon?
Hell, I don’t know. Neither do you.
I’d watch the flags, though. Because the only important thing that separates Cubs starting pitcher Jason Hammel and Cardinals starting pitcher John Lackey might be the strength and direction of the wind.
If you look at FanGraphs, Hammel and Lackey ranked 14th and 20th in the National League in xFIP, among 38 qualifiers.
Hammel’s got a significantly better strikeout-to-walk ratio, thanks to his significantly better strikeout ratio (they’re almost even in walks). So what brings them together?
Lackey’s not a ground-ball pitcher, but Hammel’s really not a ground-ball pitcher; at 38 percent, he ranked 35th in the league (again, among 38).
Then again, Lackey (46%) ranked 22nd. There’s a difference, but it’s not huge and neither is the gap between their home runs allowed: Hammel gave up 23 homers in 171 innings, and Lackey 21 in 218 innings.
Quantitatively, there’s just not much difference between these two. And as we saw Monday night, if the wind’s blowing out on the North Side, nobody’s immune except maybe Jak— Oh. Nope, not him, either.
The forecasts breezes between 10 and 15 miles per hour from the west-northwest, but with gusts Which should help the lefty hitters some. But not like the wind helped almost every hitter, Monday.
If my weather and geography are approximately right, the Cubs don’t figure to take great advantage, with Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber the only lefty sluggers in the lineup. Well, plus semi-slugger Miguel Montero. But the Cardinals fare even worseon that front, with Matt Carpenter the only lefty with more than 13 homers this season.
The best news for the Cubs, I guess, is that Lackey’s pitching on short rest. But what about Hammel, who hasn’t pitched in nearly two weeks? Some people think a long layoff is restful, and some think it’s rustful. There’s plenty of data out there; alas, I can’t find any sort of study putting it all together. All we know for sure is that if Hammel pitches well, it’ll be due to the long layoff; if he pitches poorly, it’ll be due to the long layoff. Isn’t baseball analysis easy?