Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Your 2012 Giants: Game 1 of the World Series!!!

Wow, the Giants win the pennant and they are in the 2012 World Series, getting home advantage due to the good performances from a number of Giants players, including Melky, Cain, and Sandoval.  However, the Tigers having Verlander pitching games 1 and 5 probably evens up that advantage, as the Giants burned Vogelsong and Cain needing to win the last two games, leaving Zito and Lincecum as the starters with enough rest to start game 1 with regular rest.

In fact, if the Giants hope to pitch both Vogelsong and Cain twice in the series, they would need to start Vogelsong with only 3 days rest, not his usual 4-5 days.  Bochy had noted the poor results for starting pitchers who were given less days of rest as a reason not to push Vogelsong for game 5 (Cain too for a start as well).  Vogelsong has never pitched on 3 days rest.

Well, that is all moot now, Bochy has named the playoff rotation:  Zito in game 1, Bumgarner in game 2, Vogelsong in game 3, and Cain in game 4, with Lincecum out of the bullpen.  If that holds, that means Zito in game 5, Bumgarner in game 6, and Vogelsong in game 7, presumably with Cain also available out of the pen in game 7, if necessary.

In any case, it's Verlander against Zito.  Not really what Giants would want to see in Game 1.  Or is it?

Game 1:  Verlander vs. Zito
Justin Verlander:  Six years ago, Verlander was a rookie starting in Game 1 of the World Series against the Cards. Then, he was a young pitcher running out of gas. Now, he comes into the Fall Classic opener known for being as strong in the ninth inning as the first.
Barry Zito: Many Giants pointed toward Zito's brilliant performance in Game 5 of the NLCS as the turning point of the series, giving San Francisco its second Fall Classic berth in three years. Zito allowed six hits and struck out six in 7 2/3 shutout innings.
Verlander has one start in AT&T, but back in 2008.  He had a nice start, 6.0 IP, giving up 5 hits and a walk, with 7 strikeouts, giving up 3 runs/2ER.  That is his only career start against the Giants.  He does have some experience against some Giants players, and he mostly dominated.  Scutaro batted .200/.231/.320/.551 in 26 PA; Huff .399 OPS in 18 PA; Pagan 2 for 5, triple; Blanco 0 for 2, 2 K's; Pence 1 for 3, 1 K; Nady 1 for 2, 1 K.

Justin had an amazing season, 79% DOM and 3% DIS, plus three DOM starts in the playoffs.  Surprisingly, Leyland used him for 121, 122, and 132 pitches in the post-season.  During the season, when he was used for over 120 pitches, in those 7 starts, he had a 3.38 ERA, with more hits than IP, whereas he had a 2.64 ERA for the season.  Of course, he has had 7 days of rest since that start, so perhaps that 132 won't hurt him as much as not pitching in a real game for that long.

He was equally great against RHB and LHB:  .222/.278/.315/.593 vs. RHB, .213/.264/.344/.608 vs. LHB. We do have more LHB so that helps.  Also, Verlander pitched much better at home, with a 1.65 ERA, than on the road, with a .3.57 ERA.

Zito has a career 2.91 ERA in his career against the Tigers, but the vast majority of them were when he was with the A's.  He also had a bad start against them in 2008, when he still had not gotten over his contract, and not pitching normally (for the Giants) yet.  He did have a start against them in 2011, going 6.0 IP, with 5 hits and 2 walks, only 1 strikeout, but 0 ER.  He pitched that game on short rest, so that is there for context, but that was a 3 PQS start.

Based only on games over the last four seasons, when he was relatively the way he is now, only Fielder have a lot of PA, .181/.182/.455/.636 in 11 PA, 1 HR, 4 K's.  Other hitters had minimal PA, no hits.  Over his career, Fielder is .167/.211/.389/.599 in 19 PA, Infante .300 OPS in 20 PA, Peralta .214/.294/.429/.723 in 17 PA, Laird .583 OPS in 16 PA, Cabrera .650 OPS in 10 PA.  Only Delmon had any success, 2 for 3.  So Zito has had pretty good success against the Tigers in the past, for the most part.

ogc thoughts

Zito starting was a mild surprise but was pretty much expected, but Bumgarner starting game 2 was a shock, but a good shock.  The Giants feel that they have fixed his mechanical flaw and, probably, felt that Lincecum would pitch better out of the pen.  I guess it also helps that the Tigers were vulnerable to LHP during the season, with a 26-25 record against LHP, but 62-49 against RHP.   So we got lefthanders going for the Giants in the first two games at home.

Despite the seemingly insurmountable odds that Verlander will outpitch Zito and gain a game 1 victory, the Giants seem to have a chance.  The Tigers have done poorly against LHP.  The Tigers were also only 38-43 on the road.  Meanwhile, Verlander has both the 132 pitch game and the 11 days between starts to deal with, as well as his much poorer performance on the road than at home.  Also, the Tigers lose Andy Dirks from their lineup, who, while he didn't do anything in the playoffs, hit very well in the regular season for them, as they will play Delmon in LF since there is no DH in the NL home games, of which games 1, 2, 6, and 7 are in SF.

Of course, Verlander has been aces in these playoffs, as well as during the season.  Still, he was equally good during the 2011 season, and he had a DIS start in the 2011 playoffs, so there is the potential for that.

Just as there is potential for Zito to have a DIS start, given his up and down starts.  But he had a nice start in his last start, is starting at home, where he has had a 3.73 ERA from 2009-2012.  And he has had a great history against the Tiger's hitters.  Still, he is what he is, so you never know.

But the Tigers are very vulnerable against LHP.  Their RHB hit .274/.322/.441/.763 vs. RHP (29 AB/HR) but only .256/.332/.410/.741 vs. LHP (38 AB/HR).  Their LHB hit .275/.334/.427/.780 vs. RHP (34 AB/HR), but only .246/.323/.367/.690 vs. LHP (48 AB/HR).  On top of that, AT&T Park is hard to hit in for any hitter, and especially so for LHB hitting homers there.

I would also note that ESPN pointed out that Gerry Davis (if I recall right) is the umpire for game 1, and that Zito has a 5.05 ERA in 6 starts with Davis behind the plate.  They noted that he's a hitter's umpire.  However, in his one start with Davis this season, Zito went 6.0 IP, giving up 5 hits and 2 walks, striking out 6, a 5 PQS DOM start.  Also, they neglected that Verlander himself had a 6.57 ERA in 2 starts with Davis behind the plate, so it could be bad for Detroit too, maybe even worse, as he had a really bad start with Davis in 2011.

Given all that, I have to think that the Giants actually have a good chance against the Tigers in game 1.  Not that they will necessarily win, but Zito look poised to have a good enough start, with Detroit's issues with LHP, while Verlander is vulnerable on the road, and is dealing with both getting used for 132 pitches, as well as resting for 11 days.  And then there is the umpire factor, especially with Lincecum in the bullpen (he actually had a 2.84 ERA with Davis) ready to take over if necessary; who would the Tigers go to?  That's a lot better considering what any reasonable person's initial thoughts should be once learning that it is Verlander vs. Zito.

Another plus is the Giants bullpen over the Tigers.  Their closer right now is Coke, who had a 4.00 ERA during the regular season.  He had a great 8.5 K/9 and 2.59 K/BB ratio, he gave up 71 hits in 54.0 IP.   But he's never been that good during the season previously, and at age 29, he probably didn't learn anything new, and his career ERA is 4.05, and his K/BB was much lower.  In addition, who knows how much they can get out of Valverde right now.  And their bullpen only has one reliever with an ERA under 3.00, whereas the Giants only have one reliever over 3.00, Mota (assuming he makes the roster this time).  Tiger's bullpen was 10 in the AL, showing how weak that they have been during the season.  They have won during the 2012 playoffs because they have gotten 8 DOM starts in 9 games, and as good as their rotation is, they aren't that good.

And that brings me to the rest of the announced starters.  I've covered how we have a chance to win with Verlander-Zito.  Game 2 is Fister-Bumgarner, and Bumgarner had a much better PQS during the season, with 66% DOM and only 13% DIS, while Fister was 52% DOM and 20% DIS.  However, of course, Bumgarner has not been his normal self during the playoffs, making that matchup iffy.  However, he admitted in an interview that he was getting tired by the end of the season, and into the playoffs, and now he is both rested and has figured out his mechanics.  But Fister wasn't that great during the end of the season himself.  He ended up with 3 DIS starts out of his last 8 starts.  He also does not strike out that many batters, making him prone to get BABIPed in starts.  So despite all the negatives, given he's a lefty and the Giants seem confident that they have fixed his mechanics, but mostly, for me, it is that he last started a game on Oct. 14, which means 11 days rest for him, and as we saw in 2010's World Series, when he's healthy and rested enough, he can pitch miracles.

Game 3 has Sanchez-Vogelsong.  We all know and love Vogelsong's performance so far in these playoffs.  Sanchez is actually the Tigers second best starter by PQS with a 68% DOM and 13% DIS, very similar to Vogelsong's 65%/13%.  However, he's also not a big strikeout pitcher, and Vogelsong is more of a strikeout pitcher, with 18 K's in 19.0 IP so far in the playoffs, 8.5 K/9, Anibal was at 6.7 K/9, similar to his seasonal 6.9 K/9.  But when Vogelsong is on - like his has been during the playoffs, 1.42 ERA - he is very dominating, as evidenced by his league leading ERA throughout much of the season until he hit his bad stretch.  And remember, K/9 is a key stat according to Baseball Prospectus's research.

Game 4 has Scherzer-Cain.  We all know and love Cain, and he delivered in his last start.  Scherzer has had a nice playoffs too.  And his PQS was good too, 67% DOM and 13% DIS, and Cain had 63% and 0%.   But Scherzer was having some sort of problems late in the season, two starts he was removed by the game for a DIS start but his numbers were not bad enough to warrant that, so he must have been having some sort of physical issues.  This should be a tough game, but I'm fine with Cain handling this game.  And the way Vogelsong has been pitching, he deserves to get to pitch games 3 and 7 for us.

So the matchups look good given the above, we'll see if they splits show the same.  ESPN, however, noted that the team that had the most rest had lost the World Series in the last 3 series, and 5 of the past 6 World Series.  It appears that rest has hurt teams more than it has helped them.

Let's see what happens in game 1.  I also have been wondering if having two hitters who can hit pitches out of the strikezone well, like we do with Panda and Pence, helps against top pitchers like Verlander.  Plus, Posey is usually good, no matter who is pitching, but appears to be tired, as he hasn't been hitting much, despite the poor pitching we have faced, the Giants have faced 8 DIS starts and only 3 DOM starts.

Go Giants!


  1. Alright. This is going to be great. Let's just recite the Barry Zito creed real quick: Never Trust Barry Zito. Keep the ball down. Pitch to contact. Get a lead. Let the curve ball come out with confidence. Win. If not, have Timmy ready and keep the game close Bochy.

    Verlander is the best pitcher in baseball. The Giants tend to play up to standards with good pitchers and down to standards with bad/new pitchers. We'll see, maybe he is rusty, maybe he wants to blow them away with his heat. Sandoval sure squared him up in the all-star game. And Barry Zito had that gritty rain delay game against the Tigers.

    Its the world series. Anything can happen. And something will, it never goes to plan.

    Personally, I would always want to be the hot team that has to keep on playing over the team that cleaned up and rested. Sure, the pitching matchups aren't the greatest. But we can't worry about that. It would be nice to have Cain for 2 games, but I'd rather have everybody rested personally.

    Giants defense and bullpen are very superior to Detroits. Gotta watch that longball though, the Tigers can rake. Keep their hitters off balance. I think the key, as always, is the table setters. We need to keep them off the bases so Cabrera and Fielder have limited RBI opps. So Austin Jackson's performance is going to be huge. And our side, its still all about Pagan and Scutaro. Hope Posey, Pence and Panda can roll. Panda is looking great. Pence hopefully shook off something with that game 7. Posey just needs to stick to his strike zone and not chase, things will swing back. Too good a hitter.

    Go Giants! Its going to be awesome!

  2. Agree with Shankbone's comments.

    Detroit has 2 great players: Verlander and Cabrera.

    They have a mighty swinger but one which doesn't hit well overall: Fielder.

    They have a couple of non-Verlander pitchers who can look good against an old and unmotivated Yankees team.

    Despite all, the Giants definitely can win this. Ironically the Giants' inability to hit home runs in turn mightily stresses defenses - and so the collapses by the Reds and St. Louis are not nearly so surprising or lucky. I think the same holds for Detroit: a mediocre defense at best. Throw this mediocre defense into AT & T, and I see an error (or one that should be scored as one) every 5 innings. Pagan gets at least one triple due to a poorly played right field wall-ball. Pence hits 2 home runs in the series - because Detroit doesn't really do breaking balls. Posey breaks out of his post-season funk.

  3. I should note Detroit's defense isn't just mediocre - it is terrible. This didn't really come out against their 2 playoff competitors: both the Yankees and the A's are home run hitting teams.

    The Giants, to say the least, are not.

  4. The Tigers and the Giants scored about the same number of runs this year, the Tigers having a few more, but the discrepancy is, one would think, the result of the DH in their games. I don't see that they have an advantage at the plate, then. The Series looks to come down--logically, that is--to pitching and defense, not to "firepower." In a short group of games, of course, logic is a slender reed to lean on.

  5. Forgot about another thing that is Epic: this is the first time the Tigers and Giants are facing each other in the World Series, one of the last original AL teams that the Giants have not faced in the World Series.

    The only original AL team that they have not faced are the Baltimore Orioles (who were originally the Milwaukee Brewers -!!!- in 1901!)

  6. Also, Sandoval's 3 homers got to tie some record that hasn't happened that often, I would think.

    OK, stole this from DrB: Pablo Sandoval!! How about that? Ties a WS record with 3 dingers in 1 game! The other guys to do it? How about Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols?

    Who was the one to suggest that the Giants should sit Sandoval for Arias? (Not you Shankbone!) I also recall someone wanting to trade Pablo in the off-season.

    Sandoval is a keeper, you deal with his down times, so that you can get these times.

  7. Zito ends with a PQS 3, but he was one out away from a 4 (or one less hit if Bochy had took him out one batter earlier, but the way he was pitching and with that score, you have to give him the opportunity to get that last out; or one more K).

    Close enough, more than good enough, what a great start on his part.

    And Lincecum striking out that last out! What a weapon coming out of the pen!

  8. From the Chron's Splash: http://blog.sfgate.com/giants/2012/10/24/pablo-sandoval-joins-baseball-greats-three-homers-in-game-1/

    ESPN’s Buster Olney says Sandoval is the first player to homer in his first three World Series plate appearances, which makes sense.

    As several people have noted on Twitter, the only other three-homer game in this ballpark was by Kevin Elster of the Dodgers – in the first-ever regular-season game played at AT&T (then Pac Bell) Park in 2000.

    [Which, of course, means that he's the first Giants to do it ever in the park. EPIC!]

    1. OK, Olney screwed up, I finally realized that he probably should have gotten SOME AB's in 2010, so I checked and he had 3 AB's in 2010. Still, looks like a first for AT&T for a Giants player.

    2. http://blogs.mercurynews.com/giants/2012/10/24/san-francisco-giants-panda-monium-pablo-sandoval-slams-three-home-runs-in-world-series-opener/

      From ESPN: Pablo Sandoval: First 1st-inning homer by a Giant in World Series since Mel Ott, 1933


    3. ESPN playing TV shots of every HR hit by the four hitters, realized that he looked a bit like the Babe in size, though not when running.

      Ugh, ESPN crying about Pablo hitting 3 HR when he only had 12 during the season. HELLO! He had two seasons of over 20 HR plus his rate this season was over 20 HR if he played a whole season.

      John Kruk noted that Verlander was overthrowing throughout the game. That suggests that he was ampped up, for whatever reasons, whether tensions pitching World Series or too much rest or whatever.

    4. Obviously they are just waiting for him to break another hammate... wait a second...

  9. Fox: First time since 1983 (Orioles) that one Cy Young winner relieved another (Lincecum relieved Zito)

  10. Thinking about it, I would imagine that a Cy Young facing another Cy Young is pretty rare too.

    And that three Cy Young pitchers pitching in a game has to be a first time, I would think.

  11. Giants win!!!

    Zito, Panda, and Lincecum! Scutaro too!

    Giants up 1-0!

    Go Giants!

  12. Forgot to mention another thought that crossed my mind: Detroit starts Delmon Young in LF - a big downgrade on BOTH offense and defense relative to their regular LF, based on 2012 stats - which showed that their manager appeared to be deferring to Delmon's veteranness, not making the move to win.

  13. Soothsayer moments only come once in a while... I will look this one up and relish it! I had a feeling. Lets celebrate a little, and then get back to business, and respect the baseball gods. Bumgarner has a tough road to row tomorrow.


    1. I know, really, right?

      As someone once commented here: something like, you are often wrong, too pessimistic but these are good to read. :^)

      Woo Hoo!!!

      Eh, I don't think the baseball gods were involved, unless they had a hand in assigning Gerry Davis as the home umpire. :^)

      OK, it does seem a bit like the fates having a hand, all these factors pointing to Zito doing well and Verlander not so well, and Tigers not playing LHP that well (meaning hitting), then Pablo tying history like that.

  14. This Giant team is awesome. Well done Pablo and Zito. And those two catches from the White shark patrolling LF, fantastic. If Pence can stop the poor swings at outside pitches look out. Great game

  15. ESPN noted that the team winning the first game has won the World Series almost every time for the past 9 seasons.

    OHHH! Pagan hit a grounder down third base line and it bounces off the bag, much like the oddities that were happening in the playoffs.

    Also, Zito had an RBI, fourth time in a row that a Giants pitcher had an RBI. And we didn't even need one of them! They were all blowouts!

    1. The important thing to me on that Pagan hit was Scutaro came up, battled it out, and then put it right up the middle. He is amazing in this regard. He has a sense for the knockout blow. That put Verlander on further tilt, and then up came the Panda... for the second time. Those moments are huge in the postseason. But as much was made early on about our BABIP with RISP, it is interesting to me that the 2nd half of the year (to generalize a bit), the Giants have been huge. I credit a lot of things, but foremost in my mind is Scutaro. Just goes up looking for a hit, and I think it has rubbed off big time on the whole team.

    2. It's really impressive how Scutaro never tries to do too much. What consistency!

      Pence needs to adjust for the outside pitches. Tigers are following the same blueprint as the Cards.

    3. Thanks for the additional comments!

      That is true, that was pretty good on Scutaro's part. That just shows how the Saber-theory that you want to put your third best hitter batting second works well for scoring runs, as that gives the middle of the lineup opportunities to drive in runs, plus he also drives in runs himself. Particularly nice combo when Pagan is hitting as well.

      That is very true about the Giants second half, that coincided with Scutaro joining the team, their runs scored average jumped up a bunch. Also, Pence had been great for us in RISP during the regular season, he just hit poorly in non-RISP situations. I'll take that. But Scutaro, to your point, drives that, totally, I agree.

  16. Also, Scutaro extended his hitting streak to 11 games in the playoffs, tying a record (not sure if Giants or NL or MLB)

  17. Barry Zito. Stopper.

    Of course Panda deserves every bit of attention, but if Blanco doesn't make those grabs, this game is completely different. Great job there Gregor, you'll get the bat going, but just keep on with the defense.

    Oh, MLB network has Pablo on talking about his home runs! This is awesome.



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