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NLDS Schedule 2012: Game Times, Matchup Comparisons and More for Both Series

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NLDS Schedule 2012: Game Times, Matchup Comparisons and More for Both Series
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The St. Louis Cardinals settled the matchups for the National League Divisional Series  by beating the Atlanta Braves. Both series offer great pitching and just enough offense to keep the games interesting.

The Washington Nationals secured home-field advantage on the final day of the regular season. This gave them an extra day of rest and sent the Cincinnati Reds to San Francisco to face the Giants.

The Nationals finished their regular season at home and had one of the top two playoff spots wrapped up for a week. They were ready to leave town and just needed to wait for the Cardinals to beat the Braves in the Wild Card Game, so they knew where they'd be heading. 

The Reds (97-65) and Giants (94-68) are back in the playoffs after missing postseason play in 2011. Cincinnati will attempt to improve on its 2010 performance when it was swept by the Philadelphia Phillies. San Francisco fans no doubt remember that postseason well, as its campaign ended with a 4-1 World Series win over the Texas Rangers.

 

Full NLDS Schedule

Sat. Oct. 6:

Cincinnati at San Francisco

9:37 p.m.

Sun. Oct. 7:

Washington at St. Louis
Cincinnati at San Francisco

3:07 p.m.
9:37 p.m.

Mon. Oct. 8: 

Washington at St. Louis

4:37 p.m.

Tues. Oct. 9:

San Francisco at Cincinnati

5:37 p.m.

Wed. Oct. 10:

St. Louis at Washington
San Francisco at Cincinnati

TBD
TBD*

Thurs. Oct. 11:

St. Louis at Washington
San Francisco at Cincinnati

TBD*
TBD

Fri. Oct. 12:

St. Louis at Washington

TBD*

*If necessary

 

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Reds vs. Giants

Starting Lineups

Reds

Pos.

Avg.

 

Giants

Pos.

Avg.

Brandon Phillips

2B

.281

 

Angel Pagan

CF

.288

Zack Cozart

SS

.246

 

Marco Scutaro

2B

.306

Joey Votto

1B

.337

 

Pablo Sandoval

3B

.283

Ryan Ludwick

LF

.275

 

Buster Posey

C

.336

Jay Bruce

RF

.252

 

Hunter Pence

RF

.253

Scott Rolen

3B

.245

 

Brandon Belt

1B

.275

Ryan Hanigan

C

.274

 

Gregor Blanco

LF

.244

Drew Stubbs

CF

.213

 

Brandon Crawford

SS

.248

 

Starting Pitchers

Reds

 

Giants

Johnny Cueto (19-9, 2.78)

 

Matt Cain (16-5, 2.79)

Bronson Arroyo (12-10, 3.74)

 

Madison Bumgarner (16-11, 3.37)

Mat Latos (14-4, 3.48)

 

Tim Lincecum (10-15, 5.18)

Homer Bailey (13-10, 3.68)

 

TBD

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
The Giants need Tim Lincecum, who was 3-1 with a 4.63 ERA in September, to stay hot.

 

Prediction

This series provides a solid matchup for the Reds. They have a quality three-man rotation and one of the best bullpens in baseball. The Giants are a bit weak offensively and will struggle to score runs.

The Reds aren't exactly an offensive juggernaut; they were in the bottom third in MLB in runs scored. San Francisco has a one of the better pitching staffs in baseball, but not quite to the quality of Cincinnati.

The Reds will likely steal a game or two in the latter innings. 

I see the series going the same direction as their regular season matchup. The two teams split in San Francisco and the Reds took two of three games in Cincinnati.

Should the Reds trot Cueto out to the mound for Game 4, that will be the final meeting in this series. However, they may let Bailey take that start and try to keep Cueto fresh for the NLCS.

Saving Cueto is a risky proposition, but I see Cincinnati trying to do just that and winning Game 5.

 

Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
Ryan Zimmerman needs to help power the Nationals' offense.

Nationals vs. Cardinals

Starting Lineups

Nationals

Pos.

Avg.

 

St. Louis

Pos.

Avg.

Jayson Werth

RF

.300

 

Jon Jay

CF

.305

Bryce Harper

CF

.270

 

Carlos Beltran

1B

.269

Ryan Zimmerman

3B

.282

 

Matt Holliday

LF

.295

Adam LaRoche

1B

.271

 

Allen Craig

1B

.307

Michael Morse

LF

.291

 

Yadier Molina

C

.315

Ian Desmond

SS

.292

 

David Freese

3B

.293

Danny Espinosa

2B

.247

 

Daniel Descalso

2B

.227

Jesus Flores

C

.213

 

Pete Kozma

SS

.333

 

Starting Pitchers

Nationals

 

Cardinals

Gio Gonzalez (21-8, 2.89)

 

Adam Wainwright (14-13, 3.94)

Jordan Zimmermann (12-8, 2.94)

 

Jaime Garcia (7-7, 3.92)

Edwin Jackson (10-11, 4.03)

 

Chris Carpenter (0-2, 3.71)

Ross Detwiler (10-8, 3.40)

 

Kyle Lohse (16-3, 2.86)

 

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Kyle Lohse helped propel the Cardinals into the NLDS but will he be a factor in the series?

Prediction

The Cardinals have the National League’s best hitting lineup in the playoffs. They don’t have the power of the Nationals (159 home runs vs. 194), but their team average of .271 is 10 points better.

The Nationals will win with pitching, though. They will start with Cy Young candidate Gonzalez and follow with Zimmerman. They could leave St. Louis with a 2-0 lead, allowing them ample flexibility to attempt to set up their rotation for the NLCS.

Nationals coach Davey Johnson has been hesitant to release his rotation, in part because it would have been different had they faced the Braves. John Lannan was the wild card; Atlanta hasn't performed well against left-handed pitchers this season, but the Cardinals have done quite well.

If Lohse doesn't take the mound in Game 3, he might not pitch at all. Penciling Carpenter in for that matchup is surprising.

I can't see Mike Matheny taking that chance. Lohse will win Game 3 for the Cardinals and Carpenter will be asked to set up Wainwright for Game 5.

The Nationals won't let that happen, though, winning the series in four games.

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