Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Why Jake Peavy is Starting Tonight

With the Padres closing out their season series against the Diamondbacks tonight, it seems obvious for Bud Black to pull out all the stops. With that in mind, Jake Peavy is taking the mound on three days' rest, a move that increases the Padres' chances of winning the game by around 15 percent, far more than a trivial sum against their closest rivals for the NL West crown. Given the value of a win against the D-Backs, this was clearly the right move, and I salute Black for it.

There's another important issue at work here: tiebreakers. As some of you may know, when two teams in the same division are tied for the division lead and wild card lead, the division title is decided by these tiebreakers, in order:

1. Head-to-head record (Diamondbacks lead 9-8)
2. Record against NL West opponents (Padres lead 33-23 to 27-29)

There are more, but these are the only two we'll need--If the Diamondbacks catch up that much in intradivisional games, they should run away with the division title. Basically, the winner of tonight's game captures the tiebreak and gets to host the NL Central champ for the division series rather than facing the Mets without home-field advantage. That's a big deal, especially if the Cardinals sneak into the playoffs.

For those of you who bet futures, make sure you factor this in when assessing each team's odds to capture the NL West and Wild Card.

If you have a dog in this fight, make sure you tune in. This is one of the biggest regular-season games you'll see this year.

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