Wednesday, October 24, 2012
World Series Preview
The road to the World Series didn't go quite as expected for the Giants or the Tigers.
San Francisco believed it would rely on its rotation much as it did when it won the World Series in 2010. Detroit thought it could bash its way to a pennant behind Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder.
Neither the Giants' rotation nor the Tigers' attack were disappointments, but both clubs needed a boost elsewhere to become the last two teams standing.
A look at the area in which each club was lifted, as well as where it remains most vulnerable.
The drop-off from Justin Verlander to the rest of the rotation remains considerable but that's only because of Verlander's dominance. He has taken his game to another level in the post-season. His rotation mates have done their best to keep up. Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer all dazzled in the Division Series sweep of the Yankees. Jim Leyland is so confident in the other three that he isn;t planning on calling on Verlander on short rest in the World Series. At least, not yet.
Verlander and Scherzer lessen the importance of defense because of all their strikeouts. They finished first and second in the majors, respectively. But anyone who watched the Cardinals bungle up the NLCS knows how defense can turn a series. The Tigers don't need to make highlight plays all over the field. But they had trouble handling what they were able to reach in the regular season when they allowed the second-most unearned runs in the majors.
They are stocked with strong arms: three lefties and, in Sergio Romo, a reliable closer. If that's not enough, they have Bruce Bochy calling the shots and he's considered the best at using his bullpen. When contrasted to the unsettled closer situation in the Detroit bullpen, San Francisco's relief situation looks even stronger. The Giants' bullpen is strong enough that the team's starters can work five innings and feel good about turning over the game to relievers. Tigers starters need to go seven innings to leave with the same kind of confidence. "If this comes down to a battle of bullpens, the Giants have a decided edge," a scout says.
The Giants finished last in the majors in home runs, in no small part because of their spacious home park. They were especially lacking in the power department against right-handers, and the Tigers' rotation is nothing but right-handers. Against righties, the Giants averaged a home run every 66.8 at-bats, by far the worst ratio in the majors. The lack of the long ball, however, did not hurt them much in the regular season. The Giants hit 60 fewer homers than the Tigers but scored only eight fewer runs during the regular season.