Alas, we’ve reached the apex of the playoff mountain, so to speak. After the Around The Foghorn previews and predictions in the Division and National League Championship series (if you need your lotto numbers, just ask Stuart or I – cause we pwned that shit) we conclude with the Fall Classic.
Stuart and I look at the Giants’ second World Series birth in three years and try our best to continue our predictions hot streak. Hopefully we shook up our Magic 8ball’s enough because nobody likes an “ask later” response.
- Biggest Giants advantage for the series:
Stuart - That bullpen has been lights out for the Giants, and I hope they have enough gas left in the tank to keep down a potentially very powerful Tigers lineup.
Bryan – The left handed arms. The Tigers have been very sub-par against lefties this year and with Zito and Bumgarner most likely going twice in the series, not to mention three tough lefties in the ‘pen, the Tigers will certainly get their fill of southpaws. Along with that, the Giants should find some advantage in the fact that for potentially four games, the Tigers pitchers will be forced to bat – potentially twice in Justin Verlander starts. There could be rally situations where Jim Leyland has to decide between a pinch hitter or leaving Verlander in the game – not an easy decision.
- Biggest Giants weakness for the series:
Stuart - The 4-5 spots in the lineup. Posey and Pence had trouble getting it going, and Pence won’t have every ball hit his bat three times to score for the Giants. It’s amazing San Francisco got the contributions they did from the other parts of the lineup, but with baseball being a game of mostly failure, you cannot expect Posey and Pence’s absence to be picked up forever.
Bryan – It has to be the lineup protection that Stuart mentioned above. Statistically, it’s almost impossible that the Giants are where they are, yet, they’ve managed but you can only ride that streak of luck so much. Hunter Pence has been abysmal since he’s been a Giant and with a struggling Posey, those 4/5 spots need some serious improvement if the Giants are going to win their second World Series title in three years. In addition to that, the Giants lack of a DH (Nady? Huff? Theriot? Ugh) should be a woeful spot in the middle parts of the series played in Detroit.
- How does your Giants’ World Series pitching rotation go?
Stuart – Mine goes Zito, Bumgarner, Vogelsong, Cain, with Lincecum as a super-reliever. He had his chance to prove to the world he was ready as a starter, and he was not. Meanwhile, Bumgarner and the Giants say a flaw has been fixed, and they know their players better than I do, so I give him the call for the second game.
Bryan – Mine also goes Zito, Bumgarner, Vogelsong and Cain. If I’m the Giants, I’m relying heavily on my left handed arms and pitching Zito (odd as it is to say) and Bumgarner over a combination with Lincecum in it, especially given the Tigers’ ability to hit right handers, is the better statistical option. Nothing against Tim – he’s just not himself.
- What Tigers player must the Giants contain to win the World Series?
Stuart – The Tigers have so many hitters that have done well in this Postseason and with any team that makes the Fall Classic, you’re not going to ride on the back of one player to get there. My number one pick though is AL MVP-candidate and 44 HR basher Miguel Cabrera.
Bryan – Obviously, you hope to contain the beef of any lineup, which would be Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera, but I think the Giants need to be extra wary of Austin Jackson. While not exactly a speed demon, the Tigers outfielder is a catalyst for that powerful lineup. Keeping the ducks off the pond for the big bats is a recipe for success that the Giants need to roll with.
- What Giants player must the Tigers contain to win the World Series?
Stuart – There are a number of Giants, like the Tigers, that are actually hitting the ball well. Can Marco Scutaro keep up his insane pace of hitting? It’s hard to see how he can’t, but the pitching should be better, so I’m going to say the Tigers need to contain Pablo Sandoval to keep the rallies stifled (surprise!).
Bryan – Generally, you’d say Buster Posey, given his abilities – but Buster Posey has all but contained himself in the postseason, so yet again, I’m going with Angel Pagan. Much like Austin Jackson, Pagan is the sparkplug for his respective offense. When Pagan is on base, it makes life so difficult for the opposing pitcher – not only due to his speed, but with Marco Scutaro, Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey behind Pagan – getting on base early in the inning usually results in a run. We’ve seen how streaky Pagan can get – it only takes one moment and he can carry a team for five, six, seven days. Containing him is crucial for the Tigers.
- Name a player from each team who you feel will make an unexpected, big, contribution in the series:
Stuart – Brandon Belt turning on a 98 MPH fastball inside could be a foreshadowing of some great things to come, or it could be the usual one HR in every full moon. Still, I expect him to contribute. Anibal Sanchez has been a name floated around by Marlins beat writers telling to watch out for him, and I believe they could be on to something there.
Bryan – For the Tigers, no doubt Anibel Sanchez. The former Marlin has destroyed the Giants in his career with a lifetime ERA of 1.98 and a WHIP of 0.88 in five career starts versus the Giants. Thankfully for the Giants (assuming he goes in Game 4), he’ll avoid pitching at AT&T Park where he holds a career 0.36 (!!!!!!!!) ERA in three starts. For the orange and black, I’m going with the pitchers – on the offensive side of the ball. The Giants will have a nice advantage with pitchers who can handle the bat and as we saw in the NLCS, pitchers who can handle the stick can play a considerable role in the outcome.
- Prediction – who takes the series and in how many games? Who’s your series MVP?
Stuart - Giants in 6, with Pablo Sandoval getting the MVP award this time around.
Bryan – I wish I could say I felt as confident in this series as I did the past two, but I don’t. That said – I can’t pick against the Giants. I think they get to Verlander once in the series (as much as one can get to him) and take it in 6 with Buster Posey finally snapping out of his offensive funk, picking up the MVP hardware.