San Francisco and Cincinnati will send their best hurlers to the mound Oct. 6 in Game 1 of the NLDS but the Giants have the best pitcher of the two and he will carry them to victory in this contest.
Matt Cain finished the regular season with a 16-5 record, a 2.79 ERA and almost 200 strikeouts. Six of those 16 victories came over his last eight games of the year, which is something Cain's adversary Johnny Cueto cannot claim.
While the Reds ace did win his final three starts of the season, he also lost his previous three before doing so. In those three losses, Cueto posted at least four earned runs in each contest and didn't even make it to the fifth inning in two of them.
Perhaps the most embarrassing of those stats for the career-long Red, however, is the fact those poor outings came against the likes of Houston, Miami and Philadelphia.
Meanwhile, Cain has been defeating the likes of notably offense-heavy teams in Colorado and Arizona. In fact, only the Dodgers have earned victories against the Giants when Cain has taken the mound since early August.
San Francisco hasn't been noted for their offense in quite a long time, and Barry Bonds isn't suiting up for the team in this game. Still, they've been quietly productive this year. The Giants actually bested the Reds in runs scored, RBI and team average during the regular season.
With home-run threats Joey Votto and Jay Bruce on the three-time All-Star's to-do list, Cain may have a tall order himself but his team's underrated offense has the ability to get to home plate as well.
Cueto is a fine pitcher and actually owns a better ERA and more wins than Cain on the year, but he hasn't played against very dangerous competition in awhile now. Along with the aforementioned losses, Cueto hasn't played a team above .500 since the Dodgers back on July 3.
Given Cain's level of competition and success heading into yet another playoff appearance, he has the edge over his Reds adversary in this contest. The pitching advantage will ultimately be the reason the Giants take Game 1 of this NLDS.