Tuesday October 14th, 2014

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.

NLCS Game 3: John Lackey (Cardinals) vs. Tim Hudson (Giants)

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.

FindTheBest is a research website that's collected all the data on the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants and put it all in one place so you don't have to go searching for it. Join FindTheBest to get all the information about baseball players, pitching statistics, and thousands of other topics.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.