June 28, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (28) bats against the Cincinnati Reds during the sixth inning at AT&T Park - ©Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE

San Francisco Giants & Cincinnati Reds Game 1 NLDS Playoff Preview

Across the Bay Area and Midwest today sit a mass amount of people, stomachs in knots as their teams open both the National League and American League Divisional Series’. The Giants’ cross-bay rivals are set to open their series in Detroit against the Tigers while the Reds and G-men are set to play the second half of Saturday’s double-header – first pitch scheduled for 6:37 PM locally.

Last evening, Bruce Bochy and company announced their NLDS roster which included the addition of a twelve man pitching staff, but we still sit clueless as to who the Cincinnati Reds will include on their roster as Dusty Baker refused to give out the information early. The Reds brought 28 players to San Francisco – 15 position players and 13 pitchers, meaning three members of the traveling party will be left off the roster.

Whomever the Reds do decide to include, they’ll be facing one hell of a challenge as both clubs will throw out their aces in Game 1 – Matt Cain for the Giants – Johnny Cueto for the Reds.

Cain struggled in his two starts against the Reds this season, giving up eight earned runs in just 13 innings to a tune of a 5.54 ERA. Cueto on the other hand was decent in his lone start against the orange and black, giving up three earned runs in six innings – though the Giants did put ten men on base in Cueto’s six innings despite only plating three of them.

For Cain, two Reds he’ll need to be wary of are outfielders Ryan Ludwick and Jay Bruce, both of whom have historically hit the Giants’ horse well. Ludwick holds a career .364 average with 3 HR’s in 22 AB’s versus Cain while the powerful Bruce has equally impressive numbers – a .462 average in 13 AB’s. If there is a saving grace, Cain has handled the majority of the Reds’ lineup other than those players well – especially Brandon Phillips and Drew Stubbs who’ve struggled heavily against the Cainsaw.

Flipping the script onto Reds starter Jonny Cueto, a few Giants – especially Buster Posey and Angel Pagan – have hit the Reds ace extremely well. The sample size is small for most Giants, but Pagan and Posey have combined to go 7 of 11 against the Game 1 starter, while Marco Scutaro and Pablo Sandoval have struggled in their past encounters, combining to go 2 of 15. Hunter Pence, who should be most familiar with Cueto from his time in the NL Central has a decent .276 average in 29 AB’s – though it’s either hit or miss as Pence also has 11 K’s in those 29 AB’s.

With a 6:37 local start time, shadows shouldn’t be very prevalent, though it’s possible they could linger for an inning or two which should only help the guys on the mound as AT&T is not a fun place to hit with shadows bouncing off the batter’s eye.

Here’s to a healthy series for both clubs and may the best team win.

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Tags: Cincinnati Reds MLB Playoffs San Francisco Giants

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