If you just look at the surface numbers this game should be a mismatch.
Gaudin has posted a 2.39 ERA on the year in 64 innings, 1.10 ERA the L3 starts; Kennedy has a 5.42 ERA on the year over 108 innings, 5.68 ERA his last 3 starts. As one would expect consensus betting trends clearly show preference to the Giants.
Ian Kennedy is having a very, very poor year compared to the previous few seasons. The question becomes has he lost ability? If not, the question becomes why is he performing so poorly? Interpreting his data, he has experienced some decline in skill set, but certainly not massive. In his breakout 2010 year he posted .21 K/9 better and .08 BB/9 better compared to this year. His BA allowed is up, but same level as 2012, a year he posted a 4.02 ERA.
For Kennedy the answer as to why he has been so bad is a perfect storm. His K rate is slightly down, his BB/9 is slightly up, his HR/9 is up, his LOB% is a career low, and his BABIP has not been favorable. While he is not as strong as he was in previous years Kennedy is still a guy that can be trusted so long as the situation is right. The Giants have the second slowest bats in baseball; they thrive on off speed and sink on power. Kennedy is a power pitcher that utilizes a very small % of off speed pitches. Adding an advantage for Kennedy, playing at San Francisco, Kennedy has got hurt with the long ball all year and AT&T Park is one of the hardest in baseball to leave the yard in. Kennedy’s teams have compiled an 8-1 record in his last 9 starts at spacious AT&T. Scutaro, Posey, and Belt have had success vs Kennedy, the 3 of those players are hitting .385 in 52 Plate Appearances. As for Belt, Crawford, Sandoval, Pence, and Torres 108 Plate appearances, .222 BA, 29 strike outs to 7 Walks.
On the hill for the Giants is Chad Gaudin, going back to that 64 innings of 2.39 ERA ball I originally mentioned. 33.1 of it came as a starter, the rest as a reliever; it is much easier to post great numbers as a reliever, still, he has a 2.70 ERA as a starter. So what exactly is going on with Gaudin? Essentially the exact opposite of what’s happening to Kennedy. Gaudin has been slightly better in just about every area, most importantly BABIP and LOB%, BABIP just missing a career best and LOB representing a career best. Like Kennedy he is also a Fly Ball pitcher playing at AT&T, so that helps. Regardless of location, regardless if Gaudin has a career year, he will regress; it’s just a matter of when and how much.
Previously to this starting stint Gaudin was known to be a righty killer during most of his career, the numbers certainly back that up with his splits. His WHIP differential from right to left since 2012 is a whopping .85. That’s a top 10 differential since 2012 with over 400 pitchers measured.
This year alone look at the numbers. Vs R 8.77 K/9 and 1.62 BB/9 .170 BA allowed Vs L 6.12 K/9 and 5.76 BB/9 .265 BA allowed Arizona will stack you with Lefties, add another with Eaton back, if Chavez can play, Gaudin might face 6 of 8 positional players hitting left handed with two other stud right handers filling the gap. At minimum he will face 5 left handed hitters. The R/L is so critical with Gaudin because he is already limited to fastball/slider with a little added sinker. When he faces lefties he basically junks his slider and it’s fastball over 65% of the time. He is already a predictable pitcher, making him even more predictable and also being his first multiple start of the season seems like a good spot to see a regression from him. On the year Arizona has faced him one time starting and once in relief for a total of 6.1 innings and a 4.27 ERA.
Playing at AT&T low scoring outputs are much more common and I don’t want to include the Bull Pens here. So I’m going with the 5 innings +.5 Run Line. Play On Arizona 5 Inning RL +.5 (-135) Pitchers Must Start Kennedy vs Gaudin