World Series Preview: Pitching Will Be the Difference

After nearly seven months of thrilling baseball, the fall classic is finally upon us. Only two teams remain on the quest for a World Series title, and just four wins separate them from making history. It’s the match-up we’ve all been waiting for. Well, not exactly.

Let’s be honest; who really predicted that the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers would be playing in the World Series? Not me. My prediction that the Rays would be champions looked bad right from the start. They lost the first two games of the ALDS at home. It would have been borderline crazy to think that a team that had never won a playoff series (Rangers) and a team that hadn’t made the playoffs since 2003 (Giants) would beat out the two most dominant teams in baseball for the last couple years (Yankees and Phillies). As unlikely as it might have seemed back in April, they have proven to be the best of the National and American Leagues in 2010.

Game one will feature Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee, a duo that has combined for three Cy Young awards since 2008. What a way to start the World Series! The Giants pitching has been extremely impressive throughout the postseason, shutting down one of the best lineups in the game (Philadelphia). From the starting pitching of Lincecum, Cain, and Sanchez all the way through to the intimidating closing of Brian Wilson, the Giants leave opposing hitters confused and off balance at the plate. On the other hand, Cliff Lee has pitched eight innings in all three of his postseason starts, collecting an incredible 34 strikeouts during that time. Behind Lee, Colby Lewis has pitched very well with a 1.45 ERA, but C.J. Wilson and Tommy Hunter haven’t looked quite as sharp, combining for just one win and 13 earned runs in five games.

Offensively, this series appears to be a major mismatch on paper. The Rangers have five guys who are batting above .300 (Cruz, Kinsler, Andrus, Molina, & Moreland) while the Giants have just one (Cody Ross). Texas has twice as many homeruns and RBIs as San Francisco, and with Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz, their lineup is scary to say the least. With four homers and eight RBIs this postseason, Cody Ross has powered the Giants, who are experts when it comes to hitting with runners in scoring position. If Ross and the unflappable rookie Buster Posey continue their dominance, it may just be enough for the Giants to win.

With Elvis Andrus, Ian Kinsler, and Josh Hamilton, the Rangers have the clear edge on the base paths. They have stolen 15 bases in the playoffs while the Giants have stolen on three. Base-running could be a major factor in this series because with so many aces on the mound, runs will likely need to be manufactured. Both teams are solid defensively, and I don’t expect that to change now.

Although it may sound crazy, I’m picking San Francisco to win the series in seven games. I think they have the best all around pitching in baseball and pitching is what wins championships. They are masters of one-run games, and I expect them to force the Rangers to play a few close ones. Texas is one of the most aggressive teams in the league at the plate, and their offensive will be silenced if they continue to be impatient. Once you get past Cliff Lee, the Rangers pitching becomes much more vulnerable, and the Giants will take advantage of that. Their timely hitting will continue, and San Fran will win its sixth World Series. Also, don’t disregard the fact that the National League finally won the all-star game. Home field advantage is more important than many people think, especially for the Giants.

The 2010 World Series will not include the dominant franchises of Philadelphia and New York, but make no mistake about it; the Giants and Rangers deserve to be here. They have overcome all odds and are now just one step away from being crowned champions. These two smaller market teams have forced us to expect the unexpected. It may not be what everyone was hoping for, but I assure you that this series will not disappoint.

Tags: Brian Wilson Buster Posey CJ Wilson Cliff Lee Cody Ross Colby Lewis Elvis Andrus Ian Kinsler Jonathan Sanchez Josh Hamilton Matt Cain Nelson Cruz Tim Lincecum Tommy Hunter World Series

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