NLCS Preview: St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Francisco Giants

NLCS Preview: St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Francisco Giants

NLCS Preview: St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Francisco Giants
By Greg Warren
Covers.com

St. Louis Cardinals (88-74) vs. San Francisco Giants (94-68)

Regular season head-to-head: The Giants and Cardinals split a two-game series at AT&T Park in May and split four games at Busch Stadium in August.

Series odds: Giants -120, Cardinals +100 courtesy of sportsbook.ag

PITCHING

Chris Carpenter, who has a 10-2 postseason record with a 2.86 ERA, will get the ball at least twice in this series. But The Cardinals will be without Jaime Garcia against the Giants. The lefty exited after two innings vs. Washington because of a strained rotator cuff and was taken off the roster. That will put more pressure on Adam Wainwright, who was hammered in a no-decision against the Nationals on Friday, allowing six runs on seven hits in just 2 2/3 innings of work, and Kyle Lohse.

Giants’ starters had a 5.16 ERA in the series against the Reds. Tim Lincecum could be the X-factor after pitching exceptionally well out of the bullpen in the NLDS. Manager Bruce Bochy has gone on the record saying he will “revamp” his rotation to include Lincecum against the Cardinals. Relievers Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla held their own in the NLDS and have shared the closer’s role effectively in the absence of the injured Brian Wilson.

Edge: Tie

HITTING

The Giants’ .194 team batting average was the second-worst of any team to win a division series in the Wild Card era. But San Francisco batters had an uncanny ability to come through in the clutch late in the series against Cincinnati. The Giants were 0-for-12 with six strikeouts with runners in scoring position in the first three games and 5-for-15 with two homers in Games 4 and 5.

The Cardinals pounded out 32 runs (6.4 per game) in five games against a solid Nationals’ pitching staff. The new Mr. October, David Freese, is once again proving he’s a fall performer with his .381 batting average this postseason. Carlos Beltran has also been an offensive juggernaut for St. Louis, boasting a .409 average with two key homers. The Cardinals have also been getting an unexpected offensive contribution from infielder Daniel Descalso, who has six RBIs in his last six contests.

Edge: Cardinals

INTANGIBLES

The Cardinals have won their last six elimination playoff games and will play in their seventh NLCS in the last 12 years. St. Louis enters on a high after overcoming a six-run deficit in Game 5 to dispose of the Nationals.

The Giants became the ninth team to overcome a 2-0 deficit in a best-of-five postseason series and first to do it by winning the final three games on the road, rallying past Cincinnati.

Edge: Tie. The past two World Series champions meet to see who gets a chance to compete for baseball supremacy in 2012. Both of these clubs boast rosters full of players that are proven playoff performers.

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