1) Lance Lynn’s Stamina:
Lynn hasn’t started since surrendering four runs on six hits and a walk over 5 1/3 innings and earning the win against the Nationals on September 30th. His last four appearances have come in relief, all of which came against the Nationals in the NLDS. The question isn’t about Lynn’s ability as a starter — he was 17-5 with a 3.67 ERA while striking out more than nine hitters per nine innings in his 29 starts. However, Lynn did just pitch four times in a week, so the biggest concern with the young flamethrower is how long he will be able to last in Game 1.
2) Madison Bumgarner’s Recent Struggles:
The 23-year-old gave up four runs on seven hits and a walk while lasting only 4 1/3 innings and taking the loss in the Giants’ Game 2 loss to the Reds in the NLDS. Bumgarner struggled in September, allowing four runs or more in three of his five starts. Against the Cards, Bumgarner went 0-2 with a 4.73 ERA in two starts. However, Bumgarner was 10-3 with a 2.38 ERA and a 4.08 K/BB ratio in 15 starts at home this season, which is where the NLCS will begin. Whether Bumgarner’s dominance at home outweighs his recent troubles will play a huge role in tonight’s game.
3) Matt Holliday:
The Cardinals’ left fielder destroyed left-handed starting pitching this season, hitting .316 with a .401 OBP, 14 homers and 50 RBIs in 48 games. During the regular season, as Holliday went so did the Cards — out of the 157 games Holliday played, in 85 wins he hit .358 with a .436 OBP with 19 of his 27 homers and 74 of his 102 RBIs. In 72 losses, he hit just .216 with a .307 OBP and a .364 slugging percentage. Combining those polarizing splits and Holliday’s success against lefties makes him a huge x-factor in Game 1.