MLB Playoffs 2012: Keys to Victory for Tigers and Giants in World Series
The Detroit Tigers and San Francisco Giants are two teams in very different situations as the World Series is set to begin on Wednesday.
The Tigers are as rested as a team could possibly be. Their sweep of the New York Yankees gave them ample time to sit back and relax, waiting for the National League Championship Series to end.
The Giants had to use all their bullets just to get by the St. Louis Cardinals, but they have made it to their second World Series in three years.
As we look at storylines for the series, here are the keys to victory for both the Tigers and Giants in the 2012 World Series.
Starting Pitching Advantage; With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
One of the best things about clinching a series early is that you can set your rotation however you want. The Tigers didn't have that luxury after the Division Series against Oakland that required five games, but it didn't matter because the Yankees couldn't hit anything.
What will play a bigger role in determining this series?
Now, Jim Leyland has his perfect rotation set for the Fall Classic. Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer will be the starters.
In addition to setting his rotation, Leyland gets to watch as Bruce Bochy scrambles to put one together. Barry Zito will be the Giants' Game 1 starter. After that, what does he do?
Does Madison Bumgarner, who has allowed 10 runs in eight innings this postseason and had an ERA over five for the month of September, get the call in Game 2? Or do you go with Ryan Vogelsong on short rest?
Game 3 is where things go back to normal for the Giants, as Matt Cain is likely going to be back on the mound. Still, the Tigers could steal two games in San Francisco with the starting pitching advantage in both games.
Perhaps great power is an overstatement, as the Tigers have good power in their lineup. Cabrera and Fielder are great power hitters, but there is little depth after them. Delmon Young was third on the team with 18 homers.
Still, their 163 home runs hit in the regular season dwarfs the paltry 103 that the Giants hit. Park factors didn't help the Giants, but they are a team built on making contact and advancing runners, not driving the ball.
Considering the strength of the Tigers' rotation is missing bats, this could be a very low-scoring series for the Giants.
San Francisco Giants
Speed As a Weapon: Force The Tigers To Make Plays With the Glove
What the Giants lack in punch they make up for with smart, fundamental baserunning. They don't have a lot of burners on the roster, though they did finish fourth in the National League with 118 stolen bases, but they need to take advantage on the bases when they can.
Of course, to steal bases, you actually have to get guys on base. Other than Marco Scutaro and Pablo Sandoval, that has not been a strength for the Giants in the postseason.
But the biggest asset the Giants have that can help them overcome the starting pitching disadvantage in the first two games is the ability to put the ball in play. San Francisco forced the Cardinals to make plays in the field, they couldn't do it, and the Giants reaped the rewards.
The Tigers are a much worse defensive club than the Cardinals, though to be fair, a lot of the Cardinals' errors were just mental mistakes that don't often happen.
If the Giants are able to avoid high-strikeout totals against pitchers like Verlander and Scherzer, they can take advantage of the severe lack of range the Tigers have at first base, shortstop, third base, left field and right field.
This series has to turn into a matchup of bullpens, at least in the first two games, for the Giants to salvage a split in San Francisco. They have the arms to dominate out of the 'pen, but if the game is 7-0 Tigers in the third inning with Verlander on the mound, you're odds don't look very good.
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