Wednesday, October 24, 2012

World Series Preview 2012

The San Francisco Giants and Detroit Tigers meet
in the playoffs for the first time ever.

I'm gonna be honest. I don't even think I should be covering this article. But guess what? I'm going to do it anyways because how often does your team go to the World Series?

The Detroit Tigers are back in the World Series after facing the improbable odds. The Tigers were supposed to run away with the AL Central this year after the signing of Prince Fielder. But as any baseball fan saw this year, that's not the way it happened. Everyone except Miguel Cabrera started the year cold after their early season sweep of the Boston Red Sox. They couldn't hit, then when they started to hit they couldn't pitch, and back to not being able to hit. It was a vicious cycle that allowed the Chicago White Sox to lead the division for the majority of the year. But never count Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, Max Scherzer, and Prince Fielder out. Eventually they put pitching and hitting together with the help of a great trade (Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante for Jacob Turner), and with just a few games left the Detroit Tigers overtook the White Sox for the lead of the AL Central.

The San Francisco Giants share a similar story. They flew under the radar for most of 2012 while going through some controversy. They lost Melky Cabrera, who had been having an MVP season, to suspension after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Leave it to this resilient team to not let that affect them, and after the suspension they went from one game back in the NL West to 8 games up after a 30-14 run. The team is led by the likes of Pablo Sandoval, mid-season addition Hunter Pence, Matt Cain, Ryan Vogelsong, and Tim Lincecum. The team that won the World Series in 2010 is much different than this one. That team was led by pitching, and this team has won games by its hitting. The Giants have come back from a remarkable 6 elimination games this postseason without even a single hiccup. This team is going to be an incredible challenge, because they have the talent and intangibles all great teams have to have.

Let's take a look at the series game by game.

Game 1: Tigers @ Giants
Can Justin Verlander keep up his
dominant postseason?
Verlander vs. Zito
This is the most make or break game for the Tigers. The Giants are coming in swinging hot bats after their 3 game comeback vs. the Cardinals. But hold on a second, Verlander is on the mound. I'm gonna give this one to the Tigers, but it is definitely a must win.

Game 2: Tigers @ Giants
Fister vs. either Ryan Vogelsong or Tim Lincecum
The Tigers send out a well rested Doug Fister who's been pitching great in the post season, while the Giants try to figure out which tired arm to throw out there. Vogelsong is on short rest and the Giants have Lincecum to come out of the bullpen like he has in much of the postseason in long relief. I really think the Tigers will have to hit whoever the Giants throw out because I can see Fister giving up maybe two or three runs. I'll give this one to the Tigers.

Game 3: Giants @ Tigers
Matt Cain will play a crucial role if the Giants want to keep
 momentum going against the Tigers.
Possibly Matt Cain vs. Anibal Sanchez
With the additional travel day for more rest, Matt Cain will be on his usual time in between starts. I am not sold on Anibal Sanchez at all as a Tigers fan and think this game will be a blowout victory for the Giants. The key will be to keep it close and not lose all momentum (if the series goes as I'm expecting).

Game 4: Giants @ Tigers
Madison Bumgarner? vs. Max Scherzer
Homefield advantage hasn't mattered much up to this point, but this is quite possibly the biggest toss up game thus far. This pitching matchup is all about who can return to regular season form, as both pitchers have had struggles in the post-season. I'm going to give it to the more talented pitcher in Scherzer if the Tigers bats in Miguel, Prince, and Jackson can get it going. I'm also going to predict a big hit from someone like Andy Dirks of the Tigers to win it late. This could be the Series' most crucial game.

Game 5: Giants @ Tigers
Whoever's ready to go for the Giants vs. Justin Verlander
I've never been a huge fan of the 2-3-2 system in the World Series, but it makes sense with the travel times. I also think it benefits the away team much more than the home team. Good news for the tigers because if they can steal 3 out of the first 4 games, Verlander will be back on the mound looking to close out the series at home. If not, this series is completely up for grabs. I predict the Tigers will win with Verlander giving a complete game, 120 pitch, one run performance.

Game 6: Tigers @ Giants
After the travel day, (I'm assuming Vogelsong) vs Fister
If the series goes this far, I'm going to give the edge to the Giants back at home. I see them taking game 6 if they can ride their momentum back to San Fran. Possibly a big hit in this game from the Kung Fu Panda.

Game 7: Tigers @ Giants
Sanchez vs. Cain
This is the same matchup as game 3, but I think it could end up a little differently. Anibal Sanchez is definitely a wild card, but I think he will have a better performance. I see the game being at 2-2 when somebody needs to make a big hit. Could it be Hunter Pence at home? Buster Posey? Or will it be someone like Delmon Young or Jhonny Peralta? I'll give this game to the Giants if it goes that far, but don't rule out the possibilities of Justin Verlander coming in for this game on three days rest. That man wants a title so bad.

Key Players for the Tigers:
-Justin Verlander (Can he carry the team to two victories by himself?)
-Miguel Cabrera (The leader and slugger of the team will need to take advantage of his limited chances to drive in runs.)
-Most importantly, Jose Valverde (The Tigers will have to be able to trust him to close out a few games because I don't think Phil Coke can do it all by himself.)

Key Players for the Giants:
-Tim Lincecum (The most important player for the Giants. Which Tim Lincecum will show up, 2-time Cy Young winner, or earlier this season Tim Lincecum?)
-Madison Bumgarner (If he can return to his early season form in which he had 16 wins, the Giants will be dangerous.)
-Hunter Pence (He will have to be on the basepaths a ton if the giants want to have a shot against Verlander, Fister, Sanchez, and Scherzer. Justin Verlander is not nearly as effective from the stretch.)
Prince will be cheesin' if he wins his first World Series
and first Tigers World Series since 1984.

My Prediction:
Tigers in 5

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