Well, ladies and gentlemen, the magic number is one, and the Padres are coming to town. With the postseason scent filling out nostrils, it is time to take inventory, which provides good information and fun speculation. First, it is necessary to recall what we know as facts, as much as there can be in sports.
Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum are studs, 'nuff said. The offense isn't great, but we are truly operating under the "New Hero Everyday" system and the long ball, and it's just barely working. Heck, Nate Schierholtz drove in the winning run Tuesday night and Pablo went yard for the first time all month, the 16th the Giants have hit in their last seven games. Ah, and the bullpen is as lights-out as the Padres were earlier in the season.
When combined, it is safe to assume that in a potential postseason series, the Giants could beat any team in the first two games. However, what allows for success in the postseason is the legitimate chance to compete with a third starter. Looking at potential third starters in the National League, we have Cole Hamels for the Phillies, Tommy Hanson for the Braves, Johnny Cueto for the Reds, and Jonathan Sanchez for our Giants.
With the exception of Cueto, we are looking at three pitchers with potential and numbers that would warrant a spot at the top of the rotation for many a club.
So, let's compare some numbers. For our purposes, I will present W-L, ERA, WHIP, AVG against, IP, and Ks.
Hamels will walk in with 12-11, 3.09, 1.19, .239, 206.2, 209, posting a 1.93 ERA in September.
Hanson presents with 10-11, 3.41, 1.16, .238, 197.2, 167, posting a 2.04 ERA in September.
Sanchez owns 12-9, 3.15, 1.22, .205, 188.1, 200, posting an unreal 1.17 ERA in September.
Remember everyone, these are guys projected to be starting THIRD this postseason.
This will be the deepest class of starters the National League has seen in years, possibly decades. And if you were to ask each team who they want, each would stick with their man. A postseason MVP, a Rookie of the Year candidate, and a pitcher who has thrown a no-hitter. So, can we just find out why Sanchez is the key already? Well, fine, just ask nicely.
Well, if you aren't already seeing what I am getting at, I need to work on my delivery. With the likes of Lincecum, Cain, Halladay, Oswalt, Hudson, Lowe, and even Bronson Arroyo in the mix, the first games are gonna be a pitching bloodbath—if there is such a thing. It will come down to the third pitcher, especially since the Phillies picked the eight-day schedule.
If one team can establish dominance on the third day, it could mean the difference between a 3-0 stranglehold and a one-game lead (down 2-1 to up 2-1).
The most electric of these options—the man with the most upside—is Jonathan Sanchez. Heck, he threw a no-hitter on a day he wasn't even supposed to pitch. Ever since the change-up became a reliable pitch, he has earned the name "Dirty Sanchez."
The sign that Jonathan Sanchez has turned a corner is that he can show up without a live fastball and questionable command and still turn in a win. He walked four of the first eight batters he faced and still only gave up two runs in six innings and earned a win last time out. And just look at that September ERA...unreal.
He is leading a staff that has posted a sub-two ERA for the month. And the Major Leagues are only hitting .147 against him this month.
Simply put, if Jonathan Sanchez can maintain the dominance he has held this month, he will not be beat. The knock on Sanchez his whole career has been the consistency, but he has finally proven he can string together dominant starts. If Dirty Sanchez shows up, postseason foes could be looking at a really, really, ridiculously tough series.
Should we be worried about H20? Or even H2L? No, they should be worried about a Freak, a Shotgun, and a Dirty, Dirty Sanchez.