NLDS Series Preview and Pick: Reds vs. Giants

NLDS Series Preview and Pick: Reds vs. Giants

NLDS Series Preview and Pick: Reds vs. Giants
By Covers.com

Cincinnati Reds (97-65) vs. San Francisco Giants (94-68)

Regular season head-to-head: The Reds won the season series 4-3. Three of the seven contests were decided by one run.

PITCHING

The Reds’ starting rotation boasts four pitchers with ERAs under 4.00. The five starters were incredibly durable during the regular season, making every start except one. But the real strength of the Cincinnati ball club is its bullpen. Fireballer Aroldis Chapman leads a deep relief corps that registered a league-low 2.65 ERA this season.

Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain had a combined 6-1 record during San Francisco’s unforgettable championship run in 2010 and they’ll be joined by Madison Bumgarner and Ryan Vogelsong down the stretch this year. The bullpen will certainly miss the playoff experience and swagger of closer Brian Wilson, but the group still features some power arms in Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla that should be able to close out games.

Edge: Giants

HITTING

The Cincinnati offense ranked 21st in the majors in runs per game (4.13) and 17th in team batting average (.251) this season. Slugger Joey Votto batted just .227 against Giants pitching this season and also injured his left knee sliding into third base on June 30 at San Francisco, which led to a six-week stint on the disabled list. The Reds still managed to put up runs in Votto’s absence because of other offensive contributors like Jay Bruce (34 homers, 99 RBIs) and Ryan Ludwick (26 homers).

San Francisco has an impressive 30-14 record since OF Melky Cabrera was suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs. Buster Posey has been a monster at the plate, becoming the first catcher to lead the NL in hitting (.336 BA) since Ernie Lombardi in 1942.

Edge: Reds

INTANGIBLES

Cincinnati put up the second best record in baseball, just a single game behind the Nationals. The Reds finished the campaign with 97 victories – their most in the regular season since the tail end of the Big Red Machine days in 1976.

The Giants finished with 94 wins, the most the franchise has had since 2003, when they won 100 games. Cain gets the ball for Game 1 on Saturday. He has surrendered a run in 21 1/3 innings postseason innings, all during the 2010 championship campaign.

Edge: Giants

PREDICTION: Giants in five games.

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