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World Series Preview, Part II

I didn’t even think about it when previewing the offenses for the little series the Giants and Rangers are playing starting tomorrow, but I left out the DH position, which is just a huge oversight. I’m not really sure who will do the duties for the Giants, but the way I see it the options are Pat Burrell, Aubrey Huff, Pablo Sandoval, Jose Guillen or Aaron Rowand. I sure hope it’s not Guillen. No matter who they put in, though, Vladimir Guerrero (.300/.345/496) will have the edge because any of the first three are playing anyway and would need to be replaced by inferior players.

Edit: I didn’t realize that Jose Guillen cannot be on the World Series roster. Whoops. Scratch that option. Good.

Now on to the pitching. I’ll break this down starter vs. starter and then the bullpens as a whole.

Tim Lincecum (16-10, 3.43 ERA, 212.1 innings, 231 k, 76 bb) vs. Cliff Lee (12-9, 3.18 ERA, 212.1 innings, 185 k, 18 bb): This is an incredible matchup in a postseason full of incredible matchups. It is fully possible that Tim Lincecum can completely dominate this Rangers lineup. Vladimir Guerrero in particular seems to be a very poor matchup against Timmy. While the two pitchers are very different in their styles, I think they’re about each other’s equal. Having said that, I now fully expect a 19-14 final in the first game.
Advantage: Push
Matt Cain (13-11, 3.14 ERA, 223.1 innings, 177 k, 61 bb) vs. C.J. Wilson (15-8, 3.31 ERA, 204 innings, 170 k, 93 bb): Originally I thought this was almost as even a matchup as the Lincecum/Lee battle, but now that I think about it, I think Matt Cain has a slight edge. There’s been a lot of talk in the last few days about how is numbers don’t match up to his peripherals, but that’s been the case for five years. At some point, we might have to accept that he is this good. Wilson concerns me as he’s in unchartered territory innings wise. He was the Rangers closer last season and now he’s pushing toward 230 innings. His high walk totals concern me a bit as well. Wilson’s good, but I think Cain is just a touch better.
Advantage: Giants
Jonathan Sanchez (13-9, 3.07 ERA, 193.1 innings, 205 k, 96 bb) vs. Colby Lewis (12-13, 3.72 ERA, 201 innings, 196 k, 65 bb): This matchup comes down to command. Both of these pitchers will get you to swing and miss, but Jonathan Sanchez just walks too many hitters. He’s a good young pitcher, but his numbers are not indicative of his true talent level. Colby Lewis had a career revelation in Japan and has come back to the U.S. as a legitimate 2/3 on a World Series team. I’m just worried that Sanchez will walk the house and be out after two as he did in the NLCS. He has the stuff to dominate, but the Rangers lineup is too good to be wild.
Advantage: Rangers
Madison Bumgarner (7-6, 3.00 ERA, 111 innings, 86 k, 26 bb) vs. Tommy Hunter (13-4, 3.73 ERA, 128 innings, 68 k, 33 bb): The thing that concerns me about Tommy Hunter is his inability to miss bats. He doesn’t walk many, so that makes up for it, but it’s hard to get by striking out less than five per nine innings. Bumgarner is going to be a fantastic pitcher, but he might be wearing down as the season gets longer and longer, so it’s tough to be sure what you’ll get from him. This matchup might be a moot point as if either team is down 3-0 or 2-1 and feels a lot of pressure, they might bring back their ace on short rest.
Advantage: Push

The bullpens 
Rather than list each individual player, the bullpens are actually pretty evenly matched. The Giants do it with experienced guys while the Rangers rely on young arms to get the outs. Brian Wilson (1.81 ERA, 48 saves, 74.2 innings, 93 k) is an amazing closer and probably slightly better than young Neftali Feliz (2.73 ERA, 40 saves, 69.1 innings, 71 k). The setup men are roughly equal as this is the area where the Rangers actually go with experience with Darren Oliver. Both bullpens can get the strikeout when they need and both have a nice balance of lefties and righties. With the starting pitching in this series, I’m not sure how much the bullpen will matter in games 1, 2, 5 and 6, but it could play a role in the other games.
Advantage: Push

Managers
Every button that Bruce Bochy has pushed in this postseason has seemed to work. I’m a bit concerned about his tinkering, though. He has a good team, one that fought back from many games down in the regular season to secure a playoff birth and has now beaten the team to beat. His use of Mike Fontenot has a chance to really hurt him in the World Series as, despite his struggles, Pablo Sandoval is still the better player. Ron Washington has also taken a bit of heat for his decision making and somewhat head scratching moves he’s made. He has more talent to work with, though, on a day-to-day basis, so a lot of his decisions are made for him. He’s already said that Guerrero will play the outfield on one of the first two games in San Francisco. I recommend the second game so he doesn’t have to watch Vlad flail against Lincecum. Overall, I think Ron Washington is more a manager of people than a tactical manager, which might cost his team at some point in this series.
Advantage: Giants

Prediction
This has a chance to be one of the best series since the last time the Giants were in it in 2002. These two teams are pretty evenly matched, though I think the Rangers have the edge in talent if ever so slightly. Usually in a tightly matched series, I err on the side of the American League team as they’ve had a tougher battle throughout the season and are a little more battle tested. I’ll go with the Rangers in 7 in this series bringing the first World Series title to Texas.

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