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Cardinals now NLCS favorites

The ZiPS projection system favors St. Louis while the Tigers' ALCS chances are shrinking fast

Updated: October 11, 2011, 12:36 PM ET
By Dan Szymborski | Baseball Think Factory
Chris CarpenterRob Carr/Getty ImagesTwo potential remaining starts from Chris Carpenter bodes well for St. Louis.

After a wet weekend and a Nelson Cruz walk-off grand slam, the first in playoff history, the Detroit Tigers return home for Game 3, soggy and down 2-0 in the American League Championship Series. Coming back from a two-game deficit is difficult, but not impossible. However, winning four of five games against the 96-win Texas Rangers is a tall order.

Just how tall is it? If every game was considered an even matchup, a 50-50 shot, the Tigers would have an 18.75 percent chance to come from behind and advance to the World Series. While those odds aren't terrible -- they are much better than Jose Bautista hitting a home run in any given at-bat -- they're hardly what Tigers fans hoped to see going into Game 3. Give Detroit the benefit of home-field advantage, which historically tends to turn 50-50 games into 54-46 games for the home team, and the Tigers receive a slight bump in their odds to 19.7 percent, due to the extra game at Comerica Park.

However, we know that even between two fairly matched teams, games are not 50-50 affairs. The individual starting pitcher has a great effect on the outcome of a game. The Tigers go into a Justin Verlander start having a lot better odds of winning than when Brad Penny or Rick Porcello takes the hill. Using updated ZiPS projections for the rosters, expected lineups, starting pitchers and reliever performance, I calculated an estimated win expectancy for the Tigers for each remaining game (this also includes the home-field advantage) by the odds ratio.