Couch Side’s National League Championship preview/predictions
NLCS preview: Cardinals v. Giants – After another improbable playoff comeback, the St. Louis Cardinals are at it again, defying odds and expectations to be in the championship series against the other most recent World Series winner. San Francisco survived the Division round against Cincinnati by winning three straight games on the road, and now open at home to the cardiac Cardinals, so who will win?
The starting pitching matchups for the first few games should look like this.
• Game 1: Lance Lynn v. Madison Bumgarner
• Game 2: Chris Carpenter v. Ryan Vogelsong
• Game 3: Matt Cain v. Kyle Lohse
• Game 4: Barry Zito/Tim Lincecum v. Adam Wainwright
Lance Lynn last pitched to Jayson Werth in NLDS game 4, when Werth deposited a center cut Lynn fastball into the Nationals bullpen. He didn’t start a game last series, after spending the entire season in the rotation, so manager Mike Matheny may treat this as a pseudo bullpen by committee game. If Lynn struggles early, he won’t hesitate to bring in the flamethrower Trevor Rosenthal or Mitchell Boggs. From the Giants perspective, they get the home/road advantage with Vogelsong pitching in AT&T Park.
Like most of the Giants pitching staff, they benefit from a big outfield in San Francisco, which most importantly affects home run to fly ball ratios. Vogelsong and Bumgarner should have a slight edge, and it helps that they have some fantastic outfield defense with Gregor Blanco and Angel Pagan to assist.
The giants have the probable MVP in Buster Posey, and he’ll have plenty of opportunities to tee off, Hunter Pence is now the defacto emotional leader of the team, and Sandoval looked good in the Reds series. The Cardinals offense is very right handed, and I suspect in late game situations, Bruce Bochy will employ Sergio Romo and his sweeping slider to dispose of Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina, David Freese, Allen Craig, and possibly Pete Kozma. The Cardinals can do the same with fireballer Jason Motte to take out the tough Giants right handed hitters.
The Cardinals starting rotation could still potentially shut down the Giants offense, Chris Carpenter might be the Jack Morris of our generation in terms of his postseason badassness. If I had my druthers, I would take the Giants pitching over the Cardinals pitching.
Giants in 6
MVP: Hunter Pence