Frankly at this point, I don’t see any reason why I should do this. After all though I was pretty accurate in my analysis in the Wild Card round despite going 2-2 in the 4 series, I laid an absolute egg in the LCS picking both series wrong and not being as strong with my analysis and predictions on what I expected to happen. Nonetheless, this is the World Series. We are the best sports coverage you will find on the web, and frankly, if the Sports Headquarters doesn’t want to cover the World Series, then we shouldn’t consider ourselves a serious blog. So with that said, and with the statement on the record that your probably better off laying money on the team I pick to lose, here is your World Series preview….
Game 1: Wed October 27th, at San Francisco, 7:57 PM ET- Lee vs. Lincecum
Game 2: Thu October 28th, at San Francisco, 7:57 PM ET- Wilson vs. Cain
Game 3: Sat October 30th, at Texas, 6:57 PM ET- Sanchez vs. Lewis
Game 4: Sun October 31st, at Texas, 8:20 PM ET- Bumgarner vs. Hunter
Game 5: Mon November 1st, at Texas, 7:57 PM ET (if nec…)
Game 6: Wed November 3rd, at San Francisco, 7:57 PM ET (if nec…)
Game 7: Thu November 4th, at San Francisco, 7:57 PM ET (if nec…)
Lineups: Slight Advantage Rangers. I’m done underestimating the Giants offense. I don’t know how they do it but they continue to outhit their opponents. Maybe I was naive about the Braves, but no way I expected them to outhit the Phillies last round. Maybe it has more to do with their pitching, but they’ve found ways to produce against Halladay, Hamels, Lowe, and I see no reason why it won’t stop. Nonetheless, I can’t give them the advantage over Texas who was scorching hot against the Yankees and even if you attribute that to the Yankees pitching woes, the Rangers still have a deeper lineup with probably more pop. Josh Hamilton was ridiculous last series. 4 HR in the ALCS against the Yankees and in the middle of that lineup, with Nelson Cruz hitting the way he has been, Ian Kinsler having a strong ALDS and then cooling off but capable of shining again, and Elvis Andrus on fire at the top of the lineup, the Rangers lineup presents a ton of problems right now. Both teams have been winning with the long balls all postseason, due in large part to the postseasons of guys like Nelson Cruz and Cody Ross. In hitter-friendly Ballpark at Arlington, and the big outfield of AT&T Park, expect the long flies and gappers to be a regular theme this series. The Rangers have been very difficult on the bases for both the Rays and the Yanks. Buster Posey, known for having a pretty strong arm will be tested early and often in this series against the likes of Andrus, Kinsler, Hamilton, and Borbon (if/when he plays). The lack of the DH in Games 1,2, and potentially 6 and 7 means Vlad won’t play every game as Ron Washington has already said Vlad will likely only start one of the first two games. He has had a quiet postseason but woke up in Game 6 against the Yankees and is never an easy out, certainly a bat the Rangers will miss. The Giants have been shuffling their lineups a bit this postseason so we’ll see how Bochy handles the DH when the series shifts to Texas, and whether or not he goes away from defensive liability but big stick Pablo Sandoval at 3rd base against the speedy Rangers who could attack Sandoval with the bunt.
Pitching Rotation: SLIGHTEST of advantages to Giants. Cliff Lee is the best pitcher in the series. I don’t care what Lincecum, Cain, and Sanchez have done. Until this guy gets beat, I’m not picking against him. C.J Wilson is a very good #2 for them and has pitched very well in two of his 3 starts this postseason. Colby Lewis was great in both games against the Yankees and may be a wildcard in Texas’ pocket. I think the depth of the Giants is why I give them the advantage. None of their 4 starters have really been hit hard in any starts. Sanchez pitched pretty well in Game 2 against Philly, and then his temper and inability to keep his cool was really the reason he didn’t last longer in Game 6 vs. Philly. As always, control will be the key for him. Cain and Lincecum have handled their 1st postseason go-arounds very well and have been very strong in just about all of their starts. Even Madison Bumgarner to this point pitched well in his start against the Braves, and well as both a starter and reliever in the Phillies series. To this point there has been very few issues with the Giants starting pitching unlike the Rangers who still may not be able to count of Tommy Hunter for a big start. As I said, there’s really no wrong answer here. Texas has the best pitcher and good enough #2 and 3′s. San Fran in my opinion has more depth. Pitching should be at the highest of levels this series.
Bullpens: Slight Edge Rangers. Before the playoffs started, I would have said San Francisco. Brian Wilson I believe is more trusty than Neftali Feliz who to this point really hasn’t had a close save that he’s needed to convert while Wilson (though he did blow a save in game 2 vs. Atlanta), has been reliable all year for San Fran and has been pretty solid all postseason, converting a 5 out save to close out the NLCS. The Giants middle relief, specifically Casilla, Romo, and Ramirez was good all year but had its issues in the NLCS. It got to the point where it seemed like Javier Lopez (this guy sucked on the Sox, no idea where this came from) and Brian Wilson were the only trusty relievers and that was largely the reason why Lincecum probably pitched in the setup spot in Game 6. The setup guys had worn their welcome for that series. On Texas’ side, no need to dismiss Game 1 against the Yankees. They were far from perfect in their series too. But after that game, between Holland in Game 4 in NY, Rapada’s ability to come in as a one-out specialist, and the veteran Darren Oliver in there who I’ve seen do well in these spots before, I just have more faith in the Rangers bullpen to get the ball to the closer than I do San Fran’s right now. If the middle relief of the Giants can return to form this series, then the edge probably goes to SF who like I said already has the better closer IMO, but the way things have gone recently, you have to give the edge to Texas right now.
Series Analysis: Again, I’ve been wrong on both teams all postseason so what can I really even tell you now that’s going to make a difference? Texas to me has to win Cliff Lee’s starts. I think he’s the most dominant pitcher in the series and the Rangers have to find a way to manufacture runs against Lincecum when those two match up. As I said earlier, I don’t think the starters for Texas after Lee are as reliable as the starters for San Fran after Lincecum. And last round I said if the Giants wanted to win the series, they had to beat Halladay in Game 1 and put some doubt in Philly’s mind and I think they did that. The Phillies seemed rattled after Game 1 only being able to go back to SF with a split. In this series, Cliff Lee already stole Game 1 at TB, stole home field back from NY in Game 3, and will be looking to steal home field tonight. By knocking Texas off tonight, and giving yourself a chance going back to Texas up 2-0, you put the pressure on C.J. Wilson who has had his own issues with control to deliver basically a must win game in Game 2. 11 of the past 13 WS champs won Game 1. That’s a telling stat. At this point these are the two best teams in baseball and beating the other team 4 times in 6 games is a tall task if you lose Game 1. I’ll be interested to see how the Giants handle Hamilton in this series. Lincecum and Cain are two young confident pitchers who may wish to take the challenge of Hamilton on. Though if he carries over his hitting from the ALCS, I’m sure Bochy will take the Girardi approach and limit any chances for Hamilton to hurt them. Also, it will be interesting as it is every year with the AL manager in the WS to see how Washington handles the pitcher’s spot when he comes up to bat. Specifically if we see a 2nd and 3rd, 2 out situation in say the 6th with Lee coming up. Does he go to the bench or does he leave Lee in for pitching? Frankly, I’m highly enthused for this series as I’m happy my Yanks-Phils prediction in the LCS and before the playoffs didn’t come through. I think these are two fin teams to watch and I expect a great series from both. And honestly, is there anyone on either team that you would be angry to see win? I can’t think of anyone.
Series X-Factor: The Bullpens. Same thing I ranted on earlier so this will be short. The starters are going to be hits (Cliff Lee, Lincecum, Cain) or 50/50 (all the other starters). I don’t expect many games to be more than 2-3 run games unless Texas’ offense just proves me wrong and goes off again this series. The middle reliefs of both teams (I’m looking at you Casilla/Romo/Ramirez and O’Day/Oliver/Rapada/Holland) will be huge in this series getting the ball to each team’s closers, especially if they come in for long relief if a starter falters (looking at you Tommy Hunter.) We know both teams thrive on the long ball, and nothing starts a rally faster than walks that turn into RISP and home runs. The better bullpen in my opinion will end up being the key factor in determining who hosts the world series trophy this year.
Series Prediction: Bet the Giants people because I’m taking Texas in 6. I’ve been wrong twice on these teams but I’ve at least conceded I was close to taking Texas both times. I had no intention of taking San Francisco in either series so why start now? And I’m done picking against Cliff Lee. This guy is just too good and the Rangers have the feel of one of those college basketball teams who seem to be on a magical run. All the story lines:Washington’s coke incident, Hamilton’s recovery from substance abuse, Cliff Lee almost being a Yankee then Texas snagging him, Ryan saving the team from bankruptcy, etc. it just feels like its Texas’ year. I have a sneaky suspicion your looking at Ian Kinsler as WS MVP. Don’t ask me why as its probably dumb to pick anyone but Lee who should start at least twice, but I just have a feeling Kinsler’s going to be on fire like he was in the ALDS. Nolan Ryan and the Rangers win their first ring for the organization, and the Cliff Lee to NY, Cliff Lee to BOS, Cliff Lee staying debate begins to rev up the day after the World Series concludes.
Its been another great baseball season. A sport I always have positive feelings about and best of luck to both fan bases. There are no bad guys in this series. So lets enjoy a fresh take this year in the Fall Classic!