Skip to content

NLDS Preview: Giants vs. Reds

Oct 6, 2012, 8:30 AM EDT

Buster Posey AP AP

You can’t predict baseball, but you can at least lay out the parameters. So let’s take a look at what the Giants and Reds have in store for us in the National League Division Series.

The Teams

San Francisco Giants (94-68) vs. Cincinnati Reds (97-65)

The Matchups

Game 1 Saturday in San Francisco: Johnny Cueto vs. Matt Cain
Game 2 Sunday in San Francisco: Bronson Arroyo vs. Madison Bumgarner
Game 3 Tuesday in Cincinnati: Undecided vs. Mat Latos
Game 4 (if necessary) Wednesday in Cincinnati
Game 5 (if necessary) Thursday in Cincinnati

Analysis: You have to like the Giants’ chances in Game 1, as Cain has a 2.62 ERA at home dating back to 2009. Only eight pitchers have been better during the same timespan. I’m not crazy about Arroyo going in Game 2, but Bumgarner allowed four earned runs or more in five out of his final seven starts. And that would worry me a bit if I was a Giants fan.

We know who the Reds will put out there for the first three games, but Bruce Bochy hasn’t announced who will start Game 3 because he has left open the possibility that Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong will pitch in relief at some point during the first two games of the series. It’s likely that Homer Bailey will start Game 4 for the Reds and while he was excellent down the stretch (including a no-hitter against the Pirates on September 28), he had a 5.16 ERA in 17 starts at home this year. Meanwhile, his 2.32 ERA on the road was the best among qualified starters. But enough of my second-guessing.

The Storylines

  • The Reds took the season series 4-3 while outscoring the Giants 28-21.
  • It’s critical for the Giants to get at least one, maybe both, of the games at AT&T Park, as the Reds finished tied with the Cardinals and Nationals for the best home record (50-31) in the National League.
  • This might surprise you, but the Giants actually outscored the Reds (718-669) during the regular season. Of course, Dusty Baker relied on Drew Stubbs (.277 on-base percentage) and Zack Cozart (.288 on-base percentage) out of the top two spots in the order for the majority of the season. Oh, and the Reds only got 111 games out of Joey Votto. To be fair, Brandon Phillips has batted primarily out of the leadoff spot since Votto returned from the disabled list. He’s no on-base machine, but that’s still a pretty significant improvement for the top of the order.
  • When Melky Cabrera was suspended for testing positive for synthetic testosterone, there were plenty of folks who were ready to write the Giants off as a potential playoff team. But they went 30-15 over their final 45 games. Buster Posey has led the charge in his first season back from a devastating ankle injury, winning his first career batting crown* while emerging as one of the favorites for National League MVP, but Marco Scutaro and Angel Pagan have also been pretty good. Hunter Pence somehow managed 45 RBI in 59 games after coming over from the Phillies, despite batting just .219/.287/.384 with a .671 OPS. Pablo Sandoval finally showed some pop down the stretch, so perhaps he’s finally back on track from hamate bone surgery. Still, relying on Gregor Blanco and Xavier Nady in left field has to catch up with the Giants at some point, doesn’t it?
  • What are we going to get from Lincecum? He finished the season with a 5.18 ERA, the fourth-highest among qualified starters. And while he had better results during the second half (3.83 ERA), he walked 40 batters in 89 1/3 innings, including 22 in 35 innings in September. He had a 6.43 ERA on the road this season while allowing 16 homers in 84 innings, so a start at Great American Ballpark could be good news for the Reds.
  • Joey Votto doesn’t have a home run since June 24, but he batted .316/.505/.421 with eight doubles and a 20/28 K/BB ratio over 105 plate appearances after returning from knee surgery. While the Reds would sure love for him to provide some power alongside the likes of Jay Bruce and Ryan Ludwick, he’s still one of the toughest outs in the game. It says something when you lead the league in walks despite missing two months.
  • The Giants were fourth in the National League this season with 118 stolen bases (that number includes 13 from Melky Cabrera) while the Reds were 14th with 87 swipes. It’s fair to expect the Giants to be a bit more active on the basepaths, but remember that Ryan Hanigan threw out attempted basestealers at a major-league best rate of 48 percent this season.
  • Buoyed by strong performances by Aroldis Chapman, Sean Marshall and Jonathan Broxton, Reds relievers finished first in the majors this season with a 2.65 ERA. And that’s despite losing closer Ryan Madson to Tommy John surgery during spring training. Meanwhile, the Giants were eighth in the National League with a 3.56 bullpen ERA. Bruce Bochy has relied on multiple relievers out of the closer role since Brian Wilson had Tommy John surgery, including Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo, Javier Lopez and Jeremy Affeldt. I don’t think this matchup is as stark as the numbers would have you believe, but I would rather be on the side with Chapman assuming he’s over his recent shoulder fatigue.

Prediction

Boy, this is a tough one. I really think this has the chance to be the most competitive division series matchup. If the Reds can get one of the two games in San Francisco, they should have the advantage coming home. And I think they’ll pull it off. The Reds might be the best all-around team in the entire playoffs.

REDS WIN THE SERIES 3-2

Latest Posts
  1. Doug Fister to begin minor league rehab assignment Sunday

    Apr 24, 2014, 11:03 PM EDT

    Doug Fister AP AP

    Out since spring training with a lat strain, Nationals right-hander Doug Fister is on track to join the Nationals in early May.

  2. Chase Headley exits game with calf strain

    Apr 24, 2014, 10:02 PM EDT

    Chase Headley AP AP

    Chase Headley’s walk year is off to a tough start.

  3. Manny Machado could join the Orioles as soon as next weekend

    Apr 24, 2014, 9:17 PM EDT

    Manny Machado AP AP

    Get excited. One of baseball’s most exciting young players is close to making his return.

  4. Report: Alfredo Simon being sued for alleged sexual assault

    Apr 24, 2014, 8:32 PM EDT

    Alfredo SImon AP AP

    The alleged incident took place last April while the Reds were in Washington, D.C.

  5. A.J. Griffin still feeling discomfort in elbow, will go for second opinion next week

    Apr 24, 2014, 7:46 PM EDT

    A.J. Griffin AP AP

    A.J. Griffin was shut down during spring training with right flexor tendinitis and still isn’t feeling right.

  6. Darren Oliver joins Rangers’ front office as special assistant to GM

    Apr 24, 2014, 7:01 PM EDT

    darren oliver getty Getty Images

    Darren Oliver retired last fall after 20 seasons in the majors and now he’s joining the front office of the team who originally drafted him.

  7. Shane Victorino activated from disabled list

    Apr 24, 2014, 6:14 PM EDT

    shane victorino getty Getty Images

    Shane Victorino has been sidelined since spring training with a hamstring strain, but he’ll make his season debut tonight against the Yankees.

  8. What the heck is pine tar anyway?

    Apr 24, 2014, 5:25 PM EDT

    More You Know

    And knowing is half the battle? Wait, that’s another thing.

  9. Ivan Nova will have Tommy John surgery

    Apr 24, 2014, 4:48 PM EDT

    ivan nova yankees getty Getty Images

    Ivan Nova is the latest pitcher to need Tommy John surgery.

  10. Neftali Feliz is on the minor league disabled list

    Apr 24, 2014, 4:20 PM EDT

    Neftali Feliz AP

    Demoted back to the minors at the end of spring training, Rangers right-hander Neftali Feliz is now on the Triple-A disabled list with what the team is calling arm soreness and inflammation.

  11. Frederich Cepeda becomes the first non-defecting Cuban to play in a major league in decades

    Apr 24, 2014, 4:10 PM EDT

    Cuba

    A hated policy preventing Cuban players from playing in other countries is now gone.

  12. Michael Pineda suspended 10 games for “foreign substance”

    Apr 24, 2014, 3:13 PM EDT

    Pineda Pine Tar AP

    Michael Pineda has been suspended 10 games by MLB after being ejected from last night’s start against the Red Sox for “possessing a foreign substance on his person.”

  13. Michael Pineda and The Obviousness Factor

    Apr 24, 2014, 2:42 PM EDT

    michael pineda pine tar

    Joe Posnanski says not to overlook The Obviousness Factor when it comes to Michael Pineda and pine tar.

  14. HBT Daily: Michael Pineda, pine tar and what Major League Baseball should do about it

    Apr 24, 2014, 2:29 PM EDT

    HBT Daily Logo

    Kay and I talk about what everyone is talking about today

  15. Mariners demote Erasmo Ramirez to Single-A

    Apr 24, 2014, 1:49 PM EDT

    Erasmo Ramirez AP

    In addition to sending Nick Franklin back to the minors following a six-day call-up the Mariners have also dropped right-hander Erasmo Ramirez from their starting rotation and demoted him all the way down to Single-A.

  16. An usher at Progressive Field claims he was fired for not supporting a ballot measure to fund stadium upgrades

    Apr 24, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT

    Progressive Field

    You got your politics in my day job! You got your day job in my politics! Heeeyyyy . . .

  17. Doc Gooden calls B.S. on people saying pine tar is just to help pitchers get a grip on the ball

    Apr 24, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    gooden

    Current pitchers all say they use pine tar to help their grip. A pitcher who has no incentive to lie about that sort of thing says it’s total B.S.

  18. Must-Click Link: A map of baseball nation

    Apr 24, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    Image (1) us%20map.gif for post 4243

    This is a great afternoon-killer.

  19. Justin Ruggiano out 3-4 weeks with hamstring injury

    Apr 24, 2014, 11:45 AM EDT

    Justin Ruggiano Cubs AP

    Cubs outfielder Justin Ruggiano has been placed on the disabled list after injuring his hamstring trying to chase down a fly ball in yesterday’s loss to the Diamondbacks.

Featured video

Pineda ejection wrong message from MLB
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. I. Davis (3657)
  2. K. Farnsworth (2931)
  3. M. Harrison (2851)
  4. I. Nova (2702)
  5. D. Robertson (2640)
  1. M. Minor (2579)
  2. A. Eaton (2577)
  3. O. Taveras (2544)
  4. S. Choo (2531)
  5. M. Perez (2494)