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World Series Preview, Part 3: Pitching

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In part 3 of the Sidepoints World Series preview, I will take a look at the pitching staffs of the Rangers and Giants.

Texas Rangers Pitching Staff:

Rangers Starters:

The Rangers carved their way here on the back of Cliff Lee, knocking out the top two seeds in the American League in the process.  Cliff Lee, will be the first pitcher to start back to back World Series game ones since Dave Stewart, although Lee will be doing it with different teams. Lee has been absolutely phenomenal this postseason. Lee is having one of the best playoff runs of all time; only giving up 2 earned runs in 24 innings pitched. His 12.75 K/9 strikeout rate is up immensely from his regular numbers and his miniscule 0.75 ERA and 0.58 WHIP are the stuff of legend. Right now teams are afraid to face Lee, whose aura is much bigger than his raw stuff. He is hittable, and if San Francisco can get past the name, they have a chance, but with their lineup, that is asking a lot. Lee relies on pinpoint control and when he is on, he will confuse even the best of lineups as was evident in the Rangers previous two series.

Aside from Lee, the Rangers starting staff has been very good. Their entire staff has posted an ERA of 2.76, which would be lower if it weren’t for some late inning bullpen disasters. Journeyman Colby Lewis has returned from Japan to have a very nice season for the Rangers. His confidence is sky high right now after shutting down the Yankee lineup in the closeout game of the ALCS. He mixes his pitches well, keeps hitters off balance, and has the ability to get a strikeout if he needs one.  CJ Wilson is another talented starter that can be relied upon for a quality start each time he takes the mound. Hitters don’t see the ball well off of Wilson, and if he has good control and his fastball is on, he can be aggressive and dominate a game. If they need a 4th starter, I expect Washington to turn to Derek Holland. Holland gets the nod from me over Tommy Hunter quite simply, because he pitching better right now. Neither will cause any batters too much worry, but both are capable in their own right to eat some innings if need be.

Rangers Bullpen:

The Rangers bullpen can be hit or miss.  During the regular season, it was mostly a hit. They were second in the American League in bullpen ERA. In the playoffs they have had a couple blowups. The Rangers ‘pen has settled down nicely after the meltdown against the Yankees, but they are still reliant on a rookie closer at the back end. He has electric stuff, but is he ready to show up on the game’s greatest stage? If his performance against the Yankees is any indicator, he is. The Rangers have live arms a-plenty, but will need to stay consistent.

Giants Starters:

As good as the Rangers Cliff Lee has been, the Giants Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain have been almost as good. Cain, one of the most underrated pitchers in baseball, has yet to give up a run in two starts. Lincecum’s 2 Cy Young Awards speak for themselves, but he is sporting a 1.93 ERA with an outstanding 11.57 K/9 rate. Beyond their two horses, they rely on Jonathan Sanchez, who outpitches everyone in the league on some nights, and other nights get hit around the yard. The Giants need the Sanchez that showed up against the Braves, and not the one that struggled against the Phillies. If they go to a 4th starter it will be Madison Bumgarner. Bumgarner has gone from highly touted prospect to bust back to prospect all before the age of 21. I think he will be a solid back end of the rotation guy in his career, but the Giants may rely on him to step up and pitch like a frontliner. He allows a lot of baserunners, but Bochy wouldn’t leave him in there too long if things start going south.

Giants Bullpen:

The Giants bullpen is very balanced and depth is not a question. They were second in the National League in bullpen ERA with an impressive 2.99. The back end of their bullpen is held down by the eccentric and power-armed Brian Wilson. Javier Lopez, Jeremy Affeldt and the midseason acquisition Ramon Ramirez from the Red Sox give Bruce Bochy a lot of options for late game scenarios. Ramirez, and Santiago Casillas have struggled as of late, so the Giants hope that they regain their regular season form.

Edge:

Both teams are riding incredibly hot pitching staffs boasting playoff ERAs under 3.00.  The staff aces will be on full display Wednesday with Cy Young award winners Cliff Lee and Tim Lincecum on the hill. The edge has to go to the Giants in this category with the X-factor being Jonathan Sanchez. When he is good, he is incredible, when he is off, things get ugly. In a battle of the bullpens, I’ll take the Giants by a small margin. One thing is for sure, the Giants staff had better be great, because all indications are that their offense will not beat the Rangers if they get down 3 or 4 runs early.

Discussion

2 Responses to “World Series Preview, Part 3: Pitching”

  1. Good pitching & World Series preview. The Giants also have Barry Zito just waiting in dugout/bullpen to contribute at any moment. Worth every million. I mean, he’s got Barry Zito stuff!!!

    Posted by Dubba | October 28, 2010, 11:04 am
  2. At least they let him wear his uniform. http://bit.ly/bIjMNC

    Posted by Jason Marlo | October 28, 2010, 11:18 am

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