Here we go. It all begins tonight. Here are my thoughts on the series:
1) It’s going to be another long series. With the exception of the Tiger’s sweep of the Yanks, every post-season series (so, 5 of the 6) has gone to the max number of games. This series will end, one way or the other, in San Francisco.
2) Justin Verlander could be Cliff Lee. Verlander is by almost any measure a better pitcher than Cliff Lee. But remember back to 2010. Cliff Lee was absolutely untouchable. He was coming off an incredible 2009 run with the Phillies where he earned a reputation for post-season dominance and nearly helped the Phils repeat all by himself. He backed that up with great performances in the first two rounds of the 2010 post-season.
The Giants were at home. They were starting 2-time Cy Young Award winner, and staff ace, Tim Lincecum. And yet, the Rangers were overwhelming favorites to win game 1. But the Giants wnet out and put a hurting on Cliff Lee in the fifth inning. He left before the inning was over having allowed 7 runs (6 earned).
I’m not saying the same thing is going to happen, but again, if the Giants were going to be Cliff Lee it had to be 1-0 affair with a fluke run, not a drubbing. I think the Giants can get to Verlander in game 1. It’s on the road (for Justin). It’s seven days since he last pitched. He can be had.
3) I fully expect Madison Bumgarner to be a factor. He gets the game 2 nod and something tells me he pitches well.
4) Buster Posey needs to make an impact in this series.
5) The Tigers are doing the Giants a favor by holding Anibal Sanchez back to game 3. I’d have pitched him second if I were the Tigers.
6) These are both flawed teams. The Tigers are using the tried and true method of dominant starting pitching and power hitting. That always plays well in the post-season. But their bullpen and defense are huge weaknesses. The Giants have holes in the lineup. They have a patchwork rotation that can get the job done, but seems a far cry from two years ago. But, they have been opportunistic, relentless, and their bullpen has covered a multitude of sins. Something has to give.
7) On the topic of starting pitching: the Giants have had three strong starts in a row and had 5 strong starts in the Cardinals’ series. Going back to game 2 of the NLCS, it seems Vogelsong started the one-upmanship that has come to define the Giants pitchers when they get on a roll. Overall the picture might not be that impressive, but they just might be in the middle of one of those runs where each guy is out to do just a little bit better than the last guy.
8) I am already worried about Andy Dirks and Omar Infante…those guys can be their Scutaro/Ross types in this series.
9) I wholeheartedly agree with Tim Lincecum being used out of the bullpen. He is a tremendous, series changing weapon in that role. If Zito and Madbum can hold their own, allowing Bochy to keep Timmy in the ‘pen then the Giants have everything they need to shut the Tiger offense down.
10) It will be a long series: Giants in 7.