You may not think Jeremy Guthrie and Tim Hudson amount to appointment television. You may not harbor warm feelings for the chaos that produced a World Series between two sub-90-win teams. You can’t deny, though, that we baseball fans are deeply blessed. Tonight, we get the best of all possible climaxes, after a long and occasionally anticlimactic season: a Game Seven in the World Series.

Last night’s all-Royals blowout notwithstanding, the Series to date has been entertaining and taut, even if the final scores of most games have been ugly. Only Games One and Six truly seemed to get out of hand; the others have remained at least compelling throughout, if not perfectly suspenseful. And even the 10-0 bashing Tuesday night was sort of a blessing in disguise. It leaves us in a position to see both pitching staffs at their freshest, with the whole season on the line and just the one game left to win.

That means a Johnny Wholestaff game for the deep, fire-balling Royals, and it means Madison Bumgarner in relief (!). With both lineups announced and with a pretty good idea of who will be available, and for how long, I thought I would run through how I would manage the likely reliever parades, batter for batter, barring externalities.

This might seem silly. How can you predict what the situation will be when each batter comes up? Is it really possible to peg, in advance, when Pitcher X should replace Y? I would argue that it is, in this case. There’s an objective, and often, an obvious answer to which pitcher has the best chance to get each batter out in any given game. The only reason we usually have to hedge so much is that we need to keep other games—last night’s game, tomorrow’s game, the game three weeks from now—in mind. That’s out the window now. So, with the starters locked in and the cavalry ready, here’s how I would march them out.

First, for the Royals:

Batter First Time Second Time Third Time Fourth Time Fifth Time
Gregor Blanco Jeremy Guthrie Danny Duffy (cont’d.) Brandon Finnegan (cont’d.) Kelvin Herrera (cont’d.) Greg Holland (cont’d.)
Joe Panik
Buster Posey James Shields Wade Davis Greg Holland
Pablo Sandoval
Hunter Pence
Brandon Belt Danny Duffy Brandon Finnegan Jason Vargas
Michael Morse
Travis Ishikawa Kelvin Herrera
Brandon Crawford

And for the Giants:

Batter First Time Second Time Third Time Fourth Time Fifth Time
Alcides Escobar Tim Hudson Tim Hudson (con’td.) Madison Bumgarner (cont’d.) Yusmeiro Petit (cont’d.) Santiago Casilla (cont’d.)
Nori Aoki
Lorenzo Cain
Eric Hosmer Madison Bumgarner Jeremy Affeldt
Billy Butler
Alex Gordon Tim Lincecum
Salvador Perez Yusmeiro Petit Sergio Romo
Mike Moustakas Javier Lopez
Omar Infante Santiago Casilla

A few notes on what I’m saying, and why:

  • First of all, this is a normative set of suggestions. It’s not prediction. I know these managers aren’t quite this creative (or dotty, as the reader may distinguish for themselves), and I know Wade Davis won’t come in before Kelvin Herrera.
  • The Giants leave themselves open to some manipulation by having a run of six batters where five are left-handed. The Royals should pounce, by having their two very strong lefty middle/long relievers shred their way through those stretches the first two times through the order.
  • Neither team has a significant switch-hitter, really. No one I would change these plans for, anyway. Neither manager need worry that his plans will be one-upped by the other guy going to a tremendous bench bat.
  • My boldest call: having James Shields go through the heart of the Giants’ order the second time through. I’m fairly convinced that the game will be decided the second time through that San Francisco lineup. Either that deep Giants batting order will score three or four runs over those nine batters, or they’ll be shut out, and the game will go to the club that wins that jump ball. Guthrie isn’t good enough to get more than a few outs for Ned Yost tonight. The sooner Yost figures that out, the better off the Royals will be.

This is just for fun. You can’t predict baseball. It would be a bore if you could. This game should be something magical. Enjoy, baseball fans, and root for a close game throughout. We only get these last nine (or 10, or 12, or 18) innings, before winter bowls us over.

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