Nobody does postseasons better than Madison Bumgarner, but Mets ace Noah Syndergaard is certainly no slouch. With two of the premier pitchers in baseball dueling, Wednesday's NL wild-card showdown (8 p.m. ET on ESPN/Watch ESPN) could be one for the ages.
Go inside the numbers and matchups that will decide Wednesday night's game, then vote on which team will win at the bottom of the page.
Inside the pitching matchup
When Bumgarner is on the mound: One thing we know about Bumgarner is that he'll be unflappable on the mound at Citi Field. He owns a 0.60 ERA on the road in his postseason career while appearing in seven games. Remarkably, the Giants won all seven of those games.
Bumgarner is essentially the same pitcher he was back when he dominated the 2014 postseason. He throws his four-seamer up in the zone, usually middle-in to right-handed batters, though it wasn't quite as effective this year as in the past. Back in 2014, batters had a .275 wOBA against it; this year, it was .323, with a swing-and-miss rate that dropped from 27.6 percent in 2014 to 22.4 percent in 2016. Bumgarner's average velocity on the pitch dropped from 92.0 mph to 90.8.
His cutter/slider -- Bumgarner calls it a cutter -- remains a deadly weapon, as batters hit .221 against it and have trouble elevating it. What makes it so effective in part is that Bumgarner manipulates the speed on it, throwing it from 85 to 89 mph. Bumgarner's third pitch is a curveball that he throws about 15 percent of the time, about equally to lefties and righties, often with two strikes, and he'll bury it at the knees or below. Batters hit just .130 against it, with a strikeout rate of 51.6 percent.
If there's one worry, it's that Bumgarner struggled a bit down the stretch, unlike in 2014, when he was red hot. In his final nine starts this season, he posted a 4.66 ERA and allowed eight home runs. -- David Schoenfield
When Syndergaard is on the mound: Syndergaard stormed out of the gate in April, allowing two runs in his first three starts, and his ERA remained under 1.00 as late as mid-June. Terry Collins was pretty conservative in his usage of Syndergaard, who pitched more than seven innings just three times and 43 fewer innings than Bumgarner.
Syndergaard's game revolves around his high-octane fastball, which averaged 97.9 mph, the highest velocity by any starter in the majors (1.9 mph faster than Yordano Ventura's). He throws it about 60 percent of the time with command, on the outer half of the plate to left-handers and the outer half of the plate to righties. The fastball itself isn't all that unhittable -- batters hit .283/.327/.411 against it, and Bumgarner had a higher swing-and-miss rate with his fastball -- but it helps set up Syndergaard's slider. That pitch had the third-highest swing-and-miss rate of any starter's slider (behind only those of Jose Fernandez and Max Scherzer), and batters hit .167 against it with one home run in 180 at-bats ending with the pitch (Corey Seager was the hitter).
Syndergaard throws the slider about 21 percent of the time (he threw it only 2 percent of the time last year) while also mixing in a curveball and a changeup, which he throws primarily to lefties. Syndergaard had a small platoon split, with lefties hitting .262/.324/.389 against him versus .228/.258/.322, and the Giants can roll out a lineup with six left-handed batters. -- Schoenfield
Player in the spotlight
Asdrubal Cabrera has been one of the hottest hitters in the majors since his return from the DL on Aug. 21, hitting .343/.410/.650 with 10 home runs and 28 RBIs. Almost all of that damage came against right-handed pitchers, however, as the switch-hitter had just 18 PAs against southpaws in that stretch. With much of the Mets' power coming from the left side (Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda), Cabrera and Yoenis Cespedes might be relied upon to do the damage. -- Schoenfield
What will decide the game?
How the Mets handle MadBum's best stuff: Bumgarner is well known for his nasty fastball/slider combo. He throws those two pitches 81 percent of the time to right-handed hitters. That plays into the hands of two of the Mets' most prominent hitters, who had great numbers against those two pitches from lefties -- Asdrubal Cabrera (.375 BA, five doubles, two HR in 80 at-bats ending with those pitches) and Yoenis Cespedes (.370 BA, five doubles, five HR in 54 at-bats). Cespedes had the fourth-highest OPS (1.081) of anyone with at least 100 plate appearances against lefties this season. -- Mark Simon, ESPN Stats & Info
Choosing sides: Who will win?
Sure, the Mets have a challenge facing Bumgarner. But they have a tested answer in Syndergaard, who finished the regular season with a better ERA than Bumgarner's (2.60 vs. 2.74) and earned the Mets' lone win in last year's World Series. And let's not forget the decided advantage the Mets have in their bullpen if they can get Bumgarner's pitch count up. Mets closer Jeurys Familia set a franchise record with 51 regular-season saves, while the Giants nearly had that number of blown saves. What's more, the Mets enter the postseason as one of MLB's hottest teams. Their 27-13 record is the best in the majors since Aug. 20. -- Adam Rubin
I won't even resort to the even-year argument. Let's stick with the more tangible facts, such as Bumgarner's 2.14 ERA in almost 90 postseason innings. The Giants' offense is built for contact, which should help against Syndergaard. The Giants' bullpen isn't as bad as it appeared. It was left exposed because of a September batting slump. That ends now. -- Mark Saxon
Where the series stands
Unlike last year, the Mets have one ace to ride this postseason, and they're rolling him out here. You know what Bruce Bochy is hoping for: a complete game, similar to the one Bumgarner delivered in the 2014 wild-card game against the Pirates. After a rough finish for the Giants' bullpen, you get the feeling Bochy will live or die with Bumgarner in this one. -- Schoenfield