Earlier today in a tweet, I posed this hypothetical:
If Braves lose, does Bochy pull Sanchez early and use a bunch of scrub relievers? I think he has to. Looking good for Padres right now...
At that moment, the Braves were losing 2-1.
As I write this, though, the Braves are winning 8-2. Which makes that mostly moot. But I did get a number of replies, and a couple of the common points deserve a response, I think ...
First, some (presumably) Giants fans don't believe Bruce Bochy's got any "scrub relievers." Well, it's true that the Giants didn't call up a bunch of Triple-Aers when the rosters expanded. But they do have a nine-man bullpen, and I would imagine that Bochy's not particularly worried about saving the arms of Chris Ray, Ramon Ramirez, and Javier Lopez for the Division Series. His key guys, though, have been working real hard lately. And even with the playoffs not starting until Wednesday, I suspect he'd love to give some his guys an extra day (today) off.
The second common response was that the Giants should really want to win this game, regardless of what happens in Atlanta today, because winning today means not having to face the Phillies in the first round.
OK. I get that. But I'm not sure the math on this thing is quite as dramatic as you might think. Sure, nobody wants to face the Phillies and their Big 3 pitchers, whether in the first round or any other. I'm wondering, though: If you have to play the Phillies, don't you want to play them in as short a series as possible? The more games you play, the more the odds favor the better team. And the Phillies are obviously the better team.
If you're the Giants (or the Padres), your best shot is probably to win the West, then hope somebody's lucky enough to somehow knock off the Phillies. And you beat the Reds, of course. Setting up a (roughly) even matchup . But your second-best shot is to catch lightning in a bottle, maybe get lucky in a game or two and grab three wins from the Phillies in the Division Series before anybody figures out what's happening.
That first shot is probably better than the second. But I don't know the difference is worth fighting real hard for.