World Series Preview
By Joe Fries On October 25, 2012 @ 1:55 am In Baseball | No Comments
The San Francisco Giants will host Game 1 of the 2012 World Series on Wednesday against the American League Champion Detroit Tigers.
Tigers’ ace, Justin Verlander, will start that Game 1. Verlander has been nearly flawless this postseason, posting a 3-0 record and a 0.74 ERA. The Giants will counter with resurgent left-handed veteran Barry Zito.
The Tigers were expected to be late season contenders after adding Prince Fielder to an already potent lineup this pas offseason. They got off to a rough start to the 2012 campaign and were looking up at the Chicago White Sox for the majority of the season. The Tigers hit their stride late in the season and took over the AL central in the midst of Miguel Cabrera’s historic triple crown season.
The Giants faced a bit of adversity of their own throughout the 2012 season. All-Star Game MVP, Melky Cabrera, provided a huge spark for the Giants in the first half of the season but was issued a 50-game suspension for a positive drug test. They also lost their beloved “let’s get weird” closer Brian Wilson to a season-ending elbow injury.
In the NLDS, against the Cincinnati Reds, the Giants lost the first two games of the five-game series at home. Their backs were quickly against the wall and found themselves having to win three games in a row in the opponent’s ballpark—somehow, they did.
In the NLCS, the Giants faced a similar situation. Down 3-1 in the best of seven, the Giants had to win three in a row to keep their hopes alive—again, somehow they did. Both series were taken to decisive, do-or-die, scenarios—and the Giants came out on top.
The Tigers, however, are well rested after sweeping the New York Yankees in demoralizing fashion. In the ALDS, against the red-hot Oakland A’s, the Tigers won the first two in Oakland but lost the next two at home, which forced a decisive Game 5. Fortunately, they had the comfort of Justin Verlander toeing the rubber that night and came away victorious.
That brings us to the World Series. Who has the advantage?
The Tigers have been more consistent at the plate and the Cabrera-Fielder combination is the most feared duo in baseball. The Giants have been streaky but are currently swinging the bats well. Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence are nice compliments to MVP-candidate Buster Posey, but the Tigers have run-producers from top to bottom. Cabrera and Fielder aren’t the only dangerous bats in the Tiger lineup. Austin Jackson, Delmon Young, and company can put runs on the board in a hurry. Advantage: Tigers.
The Tigers have the best pitcher in baseball in Verlander, but their fate lies with the other guys in their rotation. Max Scherzer has developed into a formidable number-two starter if he can command the strike zone. Doug Fister and Anibal Sanchez have been solid behind the two flame throwers at the top of the rotation.
The mysterious downfall of Tim Lincecum has opened the door for Matt Cain to be the ace of the Giants staff. Ryan Vogelsong and Barry Zito were impressive in the NLCS. If Lincecum can resurrect the old Tim Lincecum, it might be a different story. With Verlander, though, clear advantage to the Tigers.
If there is one area that the Tigers are feeling a bit uncertain, it is their bullpen. Animated closer Jose Valverde has been getting shelled this postseason and Tigers manager Jim Leyland has explored other options.
The Giants bullpen has been very tough. Even with the loss of Wilson, the Giants haven’t missed a beat at closer with Sergio Romo and a cast of veterans who get outs. Advantage: Giants.
The coaching matchup is even. Both managers have won the World Series once and are well respected, veteran managers. Giants and manager Bruce Bochy won the World Series just two years ago with much of the same personnel. They have faced defeat twice and have still come out on top. After such a dominant ALCS, the time off may have hurt Detroit’s rhythm. Advantage: Giants.
Prediction: Tigers in six.
Joe Fries is a sports writer and golf pro living in Indiana. You can follow him on Twitter @The7thFreezer.
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