CINCINNATI - The Reds and Giants will be a series in the NLDS that will see a lot of low-scoring games, and whoever comes out on top will be determined by who can string a few hits together.
On paper, the Reds appear to have a slight advantage in the series.
Here's how the teams match up, by the numbers:
The Giants have an advantage in the average category, but a significant amount of that is thanks to now-suspended batting title contender Melky Cabrera, who left in August with a .346 average prior to the suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. Without him it gets knocked down to .263, which still beats the Reds, who have a .252 average throughout the season.
But average hasn't been the Reds' game all year; it's been timeliness of the hits they do get, and the big hits. The Reds have a slugging percentage advantage with .412 vs. the Giants' .398, and the amount of home runs and doubles the Reds have piled up gives them the big-hit advantage that can change games in an instant. But the question mark is getting runners on to score big, and the Giants' on-base percentage (.328) surpasses that of the Reds (.316).
On paper, the Giants have the advantage at the plate, but with the Reds game-changing-hit ability, it's a toss up of whose bats come alive.
What does swing the offensive production in San Fran's favor is the Reds' anemic September. The team comes in to the playoffs batting just .230 as a team. That puts a lot of pressure on the pitching, and unless they can find a way to pick their bats up, the Giants have a significant advantage. San Francisco has been hot coming into the postseason, batting .297 as a team in September.
|Bullpen ERA|| |
Pitching has been the story for the Reds all year, but unfortunately for them, pitching has been the story for the San Francisco Giants the past five-plus years. With plenty of postseason experience on the San Fran roster, including a World Series championship, the Reds are in for several pitching duels.
This year, the Reds have the better staff on paper with an ERA of 3.36, a WHIP of .98 and a batting average against at .247, but the G's aren't far behind with a 3.67 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and .248 batting average against.
The pitcher the Reds should fear the most is Madison Bumgarner, who threw a 1-hitter against the Reds in June. If Mat Latos matches up with him, who traditionally has great success at AT&T Park and against the Giants, it could be who goes to the bullpen first, in which the Reds have an significant advantage (2.66 bullpen ERA vs. 3.50 for the Giants).
The Reds get a slight advantage in the pitching category, but the wild card here will be Tim Lincecum, and which version of the former Cy Young winner shows up. He is having the worst season of his career with a 5.18 ERA, but has the stuff to pitch a 9-inning shutout if he finds his control. The Reds can only hope his bad season continues, as they are scheduled to face him in Game 3 when the series comes back to Cincinnati.
Fielding is a toss up with the Reds' fielding percentage at .985 and the Giants' at .981, but the Reds definitely have the more solid defensive 8, especially in the outfield. And in the running game, the Giants have more stolen bases than the Reds with 118 vs. 87, but the stolen base-differential is +10 for the Reds and -11 for the Giants, showing the Reds' pitchers better ability to hold runners on at first.
Season Match Ups
The Reds went 4-3 against the Giants this year, a good sign for this series, and those games were all played when Melky Cabrera was still in the lineup. What's a little unnerving is the fact that only one Reds starter was charged for a loss in the Reds' three losses, which means the traditionally strong bullpen struggled against the Giants.
But these games happened at a time when Aroldis Chapman was taking a break from the closer position after suffering a few rough starts in a row, and the roles of many of the Reds' relievers were being shifted every which way, so it shouldn't be read into too much.
By the numbers, this series will have a lot of 2-1 and 3-2 ball games, seemingly in the Reds favor due to their better bullpen and ability to get the big hit when it's needed.
First pitch Saturday in San Francisco is at 9:37 p.m. (EDT)
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