MLB Playoff Schedule 2012: Best Matchups of the Division Series
Every year October brings lots of excitement as the MLB playoffs get underway. This year is no different as the addition of a Wild Card team into the playoffs made the final weeks of the season that much more exciting.
As things gear up for the Divisional Series, with the two Wild Card games being played tonight, here is a look at some of the best matchups of the Division Series. Whether your favorite team is in or out of the playoffs, here's the top matchup from each series. These are matchups that are worth kicking back and watching.
Cueto vs. Cain
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Game 1 of the Reds vs. Giants series looks to be a pitchers' duel as Johnny Cueto takes the mound against Matt Cain. While both teams feature great pitching staffs, the Cueto-Cain matchup features two guys who have been two of the league's top pitchers this season.
Cueto (19-9, 2.78 ERA) has dominated opponents on his way to a possible Cy Young Award this season. Giving up only 205 hits in 217 innings this season Cueto became the first Reds pitcher since 1988 to win 19 games in a season. After stumbling briefly losing back-to-back games at home in September, Cueto appears to have regained his dominant form.
Cain (16-5, 2.79 ERA) gained notoriety around the league after pitching a perfect game on June 13 against the Houston Astros. Cain's 14 K's in his perfect game helped him start to emerge as the ace on a Giants pitching staff that features top tier pitching that does not always get the respect it should because of their location.
Look for the consistency and ability of Matt Cain to work effectively with catcher Buster Posey to help the Giants take the first game at home over the Reds. While Cueto has been good this season on the road, Cain has been better at home.
Craig Kimbrel vs the Washington Nationals
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Braves (yes, the Braves will defeat the Cardinals) closer Craig Kimbrel has been nothing short of dominant this season, recording a league-high 42 saves. Over the course of the past few weeks, Kimbrel has not only been nearly impossible to hit but lowered his overall ERA to 1.01.
Kimbrel comes in the postseason after being nearly perfect in September. He converted all 10 save attempts he was given while going 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 13 scoreless appearances. Kimbrel has hands down been the one of the most dominant closers in the majors and has been almost unhittable all season.
The Nationals come into the post season after putting up the leagues best record in the regular season. The Nats also had the fourth most hits in the MLB, getting offense from all parts of their lineup. Rookie sensation Bryce Harper became a household name early on after his much heralded appearance, but Harper was not the most effective National at the plate this season.
Washington's success offensively came due to several players led by Ian Desmond, Adam LaRoche, and Ryan Zimmerman. While much of the Nationals success has been credited to Nationals pitching staff, their offense has been stellar as well.
When the games reach the late innings, look for Kimbrel to make a big impact when he is on the mound.
Dempster vs the Yankees
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
The biggest news at the trade deadline this year revolved around Ryan Dempster. Once the Rangers won the Dempster sweepstakes they set their sights on another World Series title. Dempster finished the season 12-8 with a 3.38 ERA, and is looking to transfer his dominance over from the NL to the AL. Without much postseason experience in the past few seasons, Dempster will be ready to go whenever the Rangers hand him the ball against the Yankees.
Out from the other dugout comes a team that has been very offensive all season long. Even though the Yankee outfield at times was different from day to day the offensive power was there all season. Offensively for the Yankees power can be seen all throughout with names like Cano, Jeter, Rodriguez all leading the way.
Anytime you can look down the lineup card and see as many future Hall of Famers as the Yankees have, it's an intimidating sight. Do not expect Dempster to be shaken though. The right-hander wants to achieve that elusive world series championship and is ready to pitch in the playoffs again after several seasons with the Cubs.
Cabrera vs. the A's Pitchers
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
It would be a crime to even slightly discuss the 2012 MLB Playoffs without mentioning Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera dominated opponents all season long on his way to winning the first triple crown since 1967.
By putting up a .330 avg, with 44 HR and 139 RBIs, Cabrera quickly made fans forget about his legal woes and endeared himself greatly to Tigers supporters. As he dominated pitching staffs across the American League, Cabrera became one of the most feared hitters in the Majors.
The A's pitching staff really came on in the second half of the season helping the A's create a magnificent run into the playoffs. Led by Grant Balfour and Jarrod Parker, who has emerged this season, the A's are going to be searching for solid and consistent play from their pitching staff as they hope to keep Cabrera under control if they want to have any chance at taming the Tigers.