Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Giants @ Braves: Series Preview

Sweeping the Mets? Sweet. Sweeping the Giants? The would be epic and unlikely. We're only 2.5 games out of first place, and the top spot is in our sights. Meanwhile, the Nationals complain about having to shut down Strasburg after 160 innings. I have to chuckle. On to the games!

Game 1: Jurrjens v. Zito
Game 2: Minor v. Vogelsong
Game 3: Hudson v. Bumgarner

Game 1 is going to be the toughest test in my book. Zito is a rough lefty who has dominated our entire lineup top to bottom. Even Matt Diaz has a bad record against him, and he hits every southpaw well. Our best chances are Prado and Dan Uggla, who both seem to find holes against Zito occasionally. However, I wouldn't expect big production by our team here. We'll probably have to win this game with 2-3 runs. Which means...JJ is going to have to be pretty lights out, and we'll have to do the little things to manufacture some offense. This also means he'll have to dodge Pablo Sandoval, who hits Jurrjens at a .444 clip. However, JJ is 3-0 in his last four starts, so I think he can go after a team that typically doesn't produce huge run totals. I mean after all, we're talking about a Giants team that won games against a terrible Astros club 3-2 in the 12th.

Game 2 is our lefty v. their veteran stud. Minor has been deft at doing just enough to win, but he doesn't inspire anybody with his command. Honestly, with Minor on the mound you've needed 7 runs to get the job done. Luckily that's happened 5 times over the last 2 months. Unluckily, it didn't happen 6 times. Score or die, when he's on the hill. The bad news is that Vogelsong has been amazing this season. With a 2.36 ERA, Vogelsong hasn't given up more than 3 runs since April 26th. The good news is that after winning 8 in a row, Vogelsong has lost 2 of his last 4. That means he may have cooled off in time for us to take advantage. We'll have to do what nobody else has done since April, though, to get a win with Mike on the mound.

Game 3 looks like it should be a low-scoring duel, but don't be fooled. Sure, Huddy holds the entire Giants lineup to less than .220 during his career, and Bumgarner has a 11-5 record with a 3.14 ERA. The good news for our side is that Bumgarner's numbers on the road are wildly different than his numbers at home. At home, the Bum is a 1.81 ERA 7-1 pitcher, but on the road he's a 4.43 ERA 4-4 pitcher. The bad news is that Hudson has been terrible at home with a 5.40 ERA and a 3-3 record. Both of these guys will be pitching on the opposite sides of their splits, which could lead to a high scoring event. Should that happen, it swings to our advantage, since the Braves rarely lose games with 5+ runs.

This series will hinge on whose starters go deep into games. Both bullpens are good, but they are both nowhere near the talent of the starting rotation going in these games (with the exception of Minor). A series win here would be huge against a division leading team from the NL West. Let's go make it happen with the bats!

Go Braves!

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