Before every game of the ALCS and NLCS, FindTheBest will break down the pitching matchup to see which team has the edge on the mound.
The common refrain is that Tim Hudson had a resurgent season for the Giants this year. But in truth, an encouraging first half gave way to a highly concerning second half.
Though a strong first few months before the All-Star break (2.87 ERA in 119 innings) helped Hudson earn his fourth All-Star berth, he crashed back to earth after the Midsummer Classic with a 4.73 ERA. Opposing hitters batted .302/.340/.451 against the 39-year-old over that span, including a disastrous final month (8.72 ERA in five September starts).
Hudson did rebound in his NLDS Game 2 start, silencing the Nationals through 7 1/3 innings with just one earned run on seven hits, no walks and eight strikeouts.
John Lackey matched Hudson in his Game 3 Division Series start against the Dodgers (7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K), doing exactly what St. Louis hoped he would when they acquired him in one of the more understated swaps during this year's jam-packed trade deadline.
Lackey was merely decent in 10 regular-season starts for St. Louis (3-3, 4.30 ERA), but the Cardinals obtained him for what he's done in October, not August or September. And though his overall numbers have declined since departing the Angels, his postseason resume remains one of the most impressive around. The 35-year-old has thrown more postseason innings (111 IP) than any other active pitcher and has two World Series-clinching victories under his belt (Game 7 in 2002 for the Angels, Game 6 last season for the Red Sox).
Tuesday's matchup doesn't hold quite as big of stakes as those classics, but if Lackey can be at his playoff best, then the Cardinals can steal Game 3 at AT&T Park, putting them right back in the driver's seat of the NLCS.
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