Tuesday, October 5, 2010


There's been some clamoring (as much as possible with limited audience lol) for a Braves-centric NLDS preview... here it is...


Lowe vs. Lincecum - Game 1
Hanson vs. Cain - Game 2
Hudson vs. Sanchez - Game 3
Lowe (or Beachy) vs. Lincecum (or Bumgarner) - Game 4
Hanson vs. Cain - Game 5

Well there it is... this is the absolute most critical part of this series... The Giants have built their entire season around exceptional starting pitching to the tune of the NL's best team ERA (3.36) and the most K's by any pitching staff by a healthy margin... One positive for Atlanta is in this type of short series, the sudden dearth of pitching depth that has befallen the Braves will be removed as a major factor, because I feel strongly that there's little chance Bobby will throw Beachy in this series due to Lowe's experience in the playoffs and his experience on 3 days rest... Who has the edge? Let's look at it... Derek Lowe has been tremendous lately (NL Pitcher of the Month in Sept. going 5-0 with a 1.17 ERA in his last 5 starts), and one of the main "selling points" on his massive contract was that of a playoff workhorse who's been there before... The bad news? Lincecum has a sub-3.00 ERA all-time vs. Atlanta... and he's, well, Tim Lincecum... The Game 2 matchup is interesting as well... Hanson pitching in a good park for him (flyball pitcher in spacious park) but in his first career playoff outing, and on the road... he has a better career (and 2010) ERA on the road than at home though, and that bodes well... Matt Cain has put together yet another sparkling season (3.14 ERA for the year) and is even better in his home ballpark... Game 3 is a bit of a wild matchup... Jonathan Sanchez is a hit-or-miss type guy... he's capable of great things (i.e. his 205 k's on the year) as well as the occasional (or not so occasional) blow-up where he can't seem to find the plate (4.5 walks per 9... that's bad)... he'll oppose Tim Hudson who has been the Braves stalwart all season long, and put together a gutty performance in game 162 on 3 days rest to clinch the playoff spot... I feel good about that matchup... Last thing here... Game 4? I can't see Bobby throwing Brandon Beachy unless there's an injury or Lowe throws 150 pitches in Game 1... Bobby is a guy who loves vets... and as decent as Beachy has been... I just can't see it... SLIGHT (i.e. gun to my head only) Advantage: Giants


C - McCann vs. Posey - Push
1B - Lee vs. Huff - Huff
2B - Conrad vs. Sanchez - Sanchez
SS - Gonzalez vs. Uribe - Uribe
3B - Infante vs. Sandoval - Infante
LF - Diaz/Melky/McLouth vs. Burrell/Ross - SF
CF - Ankiel vs. Torres - Torres
RF - Heyward vs. Guillen/Ross - Heyward

That's alot to digest... and there are some debatable matchups there (i.e. vs. LHP, I'd take Diaz over anyone SF can put in Left field, etc.) but with the Braves decimated as they are, I'm not sure this is the advantage that it would've been earlier in the year... For those of you that may be wondering about the McCann/Posey push... you may have been under a rock but Buster Posey has been the best hitting catcher in baseball (yes, over Mauer too) since his arrival in late May... the push may even be generous to Atlanta, but McCann has a proven track record that Posey doesn't have, and Posey will be facing all RHP in this series.. Elsewhere... I'm done with the Kung Fu Panda... he's been awful this year... and the .320+ hitting Infante gets the nod... the guy to watch for me in the series? Andres Torres... 26 steals in only about 500 PA's this season, and the Braves absolutely need to keep him off the basepaths... it'll be about situational hitting by all accounts here... neither team has the "pop" you'd expect from a playoff team, but whoever hits better with RISP... wins... Slight Advantage: San Fran


Closer - Wagner vs. Wilson - Wagner (slight)
The rest - Venters/Kimbrel/Moylan/Dunn/Farnsworth vs. Romo/Affeldt/Mota/Casilla/Ramirez - Braves

Playoff baseball is all about bullpens... and this is a heckuva matchup... Brian Wilson has been ridiculous this year (1.81 ERA, 48 saves, 1.18 WHIP, 11.2 K's per 9) for the Giants... and he's matched by the ageless Billy Wagner (1.43, 37 saves, 0.87 WHIP, 13.5 K's per 9)... as good as Wilson has been, Wagner has been better... the Save category isn't necessarily indicative of how the pitcher has pitched through the season... it's simply an indicator of how many close games a team plays... Wagner has been superior in every statistical category, and has the benefit of playoff experience that Wilson can't match.... The rest of the Pen? Advantage Atlanta and I don't think it's close... Romo and Casilla have been wonderful for the Giants all year (both with sub-2.20 ERA's) but the rest of the depth is mired in the 4.00 ERA range and they don't the dominant-type strikeout arms that Atlanta can pull out... Kimbrel and Dunn provide electric arms on the right and left sides (17.4 k's per 9 and 12.8 k's per 9 respectively), and Venters has been splendid until recently... "experience" isn't really there on either side with the exception of Wagner for the Braves or little-used Farnsworth (ATL) or Mota (SF)... Advantage: Atlanta

I thought about doing an "intangibles" category or a "managing" category.. but it's all subjective, and needless to say, Bobby Cox's in-game managing isn't exactly what he's famous for... so I'll say this... I certainly believe there's something special about playing for Bobby Cox in this final days... I really do... but not to the point where I'll give the Braves the nod because of it... I'm already a mess thinking about these games and they don't begin for 48+ more hours at time of posting here... but one thing is for sure, it's good to be relevant and back in the playoffs again... I'm going to stick by my previous "Giants in 4" prediction against my heart...but Go Braves

1 comment:

T said...

Timpressive analysis..