World Series Preview
Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 15:10
After a wild NLCS against the Cardinals, the Giants have earned the right to face off against the American League Champion Detroit Tigers in the World Series, which is slated to begin Wednesday night in San Francisco.
It seems like it has been forever since we last saw the Tigers, who routed the Yankees in Game 4 of the ALCS to complete the sweep of the feeble Bronx Bombers. Attest it to Tiger pitching, but with the way the Yankees were swinging the bat, or lack thereof, the ALCS was never really in doubt for the Tigers. Due to the sweep, the Tigers have been looked upon as the proverbial powerhouse and favorite in the World Series regardless of whom their opponent was going to be.
The Giants on the other hand, had a much more difficult road leading up to this point. They had the tall task of facing a Red-hot Cincinnati ballclub in the NLDS. After losing Game 2 9-0 and facing elimination, they rallied to win in extra innings in Game 3, and eventually took the series. They then mounted another comeback against the Cardinals in the NLCS after facing a 3-1 deficit. All in all, the Giants have won 6 straight elimination games this postseason.
Facing so many elimination games, the Giants’ starting rotation has seen its fair share of innings. Being forced to use Ryan Vogelsong and Matt Cain in Games 6 and 7 against the Cardinals has put the San Francisco in a rough spot for the beginning of the World Series. The earliest we will see Giants ace Matt Cain is Game 3 in Detroit, but it could end up being Game 4. That leaves Games 1 and 2 up to veteran Barry Zito, and either Tim Lincecum or Madison Bumgarner. For a team that prides itself on its pitching, this is not an overwhelmingly assuring rotation. Zito, despite an incredible Game 5 performance against the Cardinals, is no lock on the mound and his opponent, Justin Verlander is nothing but automatic. Bumgarner has been vastly disappointing this postseason, which can most likely be attributed to fatigue and Lincecum is nowhere near the same pitcher that won two Cy Young awards. So there is definite doubt in the Giants starting rotation, without even mentioning the lineup they are about to face.
The Tigers lineup is virtually about as deep as it gets, and is anchored down by Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera. Without a doubt, Detroit has the most dangerous 3-4-5 hitters in baseball in Cabrera, Prince Fielder, and ALCS MVP Delmon Young. The scariest part is that Prince Fielder has put up very subpar numbers in the postseason, batting .211. That being said, for as notorious as they are known to be, the Tigers offense has not been very dominant this postseason. Excluding Game 4 of the ALCS and Game 5 of the ALDS, they failed to tack on runs in ballgames, putting heavy stress on a bullpen that is nothing to write home about.
Whenever a team has to make a change at the closer position in the middle of a World Series run, it is not a positive thing. Jose Valverde has given up 7 earned runs in his last two appearances, and forced Jim Leyland to turn to lefty Phil Coke for save situations in the ALCS. Coke does not matchup particularly well with the Giants heading into the World Series. Right-handers batted nearly .400 off Coke this year, and the Giants ranked fifth in the league in batting average against left-handed pitchers.
On the other side of the field, Giants manager Bruce Bochy has the benefit of having one of the most effective bullpens in the National league to his full disposal. This may end up helping the Giants, as Bochy has the tendency to have a short leash on his starters. The Giants definitely have the advantage in close games when it comes down to pitching. Filling in for Brian Wilson, Sergio Romo has been lights out.
While the Giants specialize in pitching and defense, the bats really showed up toward the end of the NLCS against the Cardinals. Unlike their AL opponents, the Giants have been able to take the lead and then build on it, and the performances have come from surprising places. Buster Posey, who is likely the NL MVP, has been silent and Hunter Pence has mostly struggled. The Giants offense thus far has started with Marco Scutaro, who had an historic LCS. He was the first player to have 6 multi-hit games in an LCS. Scutaro has been the source of the Giants energy and it looked like Pence, Posey, and Pablo Sandoval fed off that energy in Game 7. It is hard to believe that Posey and Pence will remain as quiet as they have been. However, facing the best pitcher on the planet may hurt their chances.