Thursday, May 9, 2013

Series Preview: Giants

Welcome to San Francisco, where the people are odd, the wine is great, and the broadcasts start at ridiculously late hours back here in Atlanta. The middle series of this road trip could prove to be the most exciting with two teams tied for 2nd place in the NL. The Braves have had some playoff history with the Giants when they lost in the first round of the NLDS, the same year the Giants went on to win the World Series in 2010. As such, we always have extra incentive to beat the Giants whenever the opportunity arises.

Game 1: Teheran (1-0) v. Vogelsong (1-2)
Game 2: Hudson (4-1) v. Cain (1-2)
Game 3: Maholm (4-3) v. Bumgarner (3-1)
Game 4: Medlen (1-4) v. Lincecum (2-2)

The matchups look like a playoff series don't they? That was my first thought when writing them down. We'll see how things play out, but I wouldn't be shocked to see the Giants again in the playoffs this year against the Braves. Game 1 pits Teheran and his rookie record against the struggling Vogelsong. Teheran is unbeaten in his 5 starts with a 4.50 road ERA. Vogelsong has given up 12 runs in his last two games with an 8.47 homer ERA. Looks like a simple matchup right? Wrong. The Braves have had issues putting away starters with high ERAs this season. Vogelsong also has a 2.30 ERA against the Braves in his last two starts against us. The two guys who will be key against Vogelsong are Freeman and Justin, both of whom have .300+ averages against the guy.

Game 2 gives us another chance to see Tim Hudson keep his winning ways rolling. Tim has won his last two games in dominant fashion. However, his road games haven't had the same panache as his home starts. In fact, Huddy's road ERA is over 5.00 and his opponents are hitting .288 against him. That means we have yet to see if Tim can carry over the recent successes to his away games. He'll have a good chance against the Giants, since their lineup has a paltry .560 OPS against him lifetime. On the other side, something has been wrong with Matt Cain, but whatever it was got corrected within the last week. From a series of starts where Cain didn't win a single game, he's polished off two victories in a row with one winning decision. Cain's home ERA is a shocking 6.88 in 3 games with a very unusual 2-1 K/BB ratio for him. Cain is much more used to a 3-1 ratio at worst, meaning his command simply wasn't there. The bad news is that nobody on the Braves lineup hits Cain well. This sets up to be a low scoring game that could come down to extras.

Game 3 features two pitchers who are winning when they can get any run support. Maholm is 4-0 in games where the Braves score 2 runs or more. He's 0-3 in the other games. It's hard to win when your team puts a goose egg on the board. Bumgarner's similar magic number is 3 runs. He's 4-0 when the Giants score 3 or more, and 1-2 when they score less. Obviously the key to these types of games is scoring early. Maholm will really have to watch out for Angel Pagan and Hunter Pence with their OPS approaching 1.000. Bumgarner will have to watch out Freeman and Justin, who also have extremely high OPS numbers against him. Justin specifically has a 1.524 OPS against Bumgarner, which is ridiculous.

The final game has two struggling guys trying to find their way in the world. Kris Medlen has looked a lot like Medlen-y (I made that up) than he did in 2012. Lincecum aka The Freaky Franchise has an ERA of 4.75, a pedestrian 2-2 record, and he's given up 5 earned runs apiece in his last two starts. The difference between the two is the Giants have won 5 of Lincecum's starts with solid run support, while Medlen has been getting under 3 runs on average since April 21st. Medlen hasn't faced the Giants before in a starting role, so this will be interesting to see how he adjusts to a very hot and cold lineup. Lincecum has struggled with several hitters on the Braves, including CJ, McCann, and Schafer. Oddly he's dominated our traditional power guys, Freeman and Justin. We may need some love from the B-Squad to win this one.

In a battle of the CPA v. my gut yesterday, my gut and the Braves won. The CPA moves to 16-11 on the season, and we look to see who will emerge in Game 1 of this series as the victor.

Game 1 Prediction: Braves 4 - Giants 2

Vogelsong has been off with his command, the Braves have been extremely patient at the plate lately. Look for the Braves to take their walks in this game, and then try to capitalize on their chances with a couple timely homers. Freddie Freeman is my pick for a guy who could have a big day against Vogelsong in a Braves win.


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