NLCS Preview

This match up doesn’t quite have the story lines the ALCS does, but it will be fun.  These two teams have been the best two teams in baseball since 2010.  The Giants winning the World Series in 2010 and 2012, and the Cardinals winning in between in 2011.  The two are both great, and have constantly proved it, but one of their season ends with this series, and it’s my decision to figure out who’s it will be.

The Giants had one of the more up&down seasons this year.  Coming out of the gate steamrolling everyone in late April and early May, they looked World Series bound.  A massive tailspin followed the hot start, which set the tone for quite a while, until after the Jake Peavy trade, which swung things.  Since August, it’s been a roller coaster.  It was no doubt in my mind they would make the Playoffs, since I know, from being a fan of this team and watching them the past four years, the San Francisco Giants play their best baseball in September and October, and man, they just continue to prove it.

So the Giants find themselves here, playing for a trip to a Series they are no stranger to.  The opponent though, is no easy task, as if any task this time of year is.

So what do the Giants have to do to get there?

Hit the baseball.  Hard, and a lot.  The Cardinals have a good pitching staff, but they fall to momentum and get rattled easily.  If the Giants can pile on runs, they will win the series.  In a column talking about the Giants Wild Card Game against Pittsburgh, I used “Panik” (in reference to Joe Panik, a fan favorite who looks promising for the Giants) instead of panic, and that was golden.  After the column was published, Panik had a great and clutch series, with seven hits and three runs in five games.  The momentum carried the Giants, and the young guys through Washington, and now, it’s something the Cardinals have to deal with.  Have fun.

If how fun this team is on and off the field isn’t enough, the lineup is loaded with P’s.  P’s, the last names of the batters.  For example: Posey, Pence, Panik, Panda (Pablo Sandoval).  That’s the heart of this team, and it’s totally marketable.  Anyways, the Cardinals strong pitching staff has to shut them down, and if they don’t, another NL title won’t be returning to St. Louis.

On the other end, the Giants pitching staff has a clutch and strong Cardinals line up to get by, and it’s start with…

Kolten Wong?

Yep, Kolten Wong.

Now Wong didn’t put huge regular season numbers, or become a superstar, but he has been clutch, and as we’ve seen him do it not only this postseason, but since April.  Wong has done nothing but good things for this club.  For a 23 year old to come in, and just deliver and play wherever and whenever, it’s outstanding.  He has been electric this year, and in Game 3 of the NLDS, he hit a two-run home run, which ended up sealing the game for the Cardinals.  He’s the real deal, and if he continues what he’s done so far, the Giants have a handful to deal with.

That’s one guy on this Cardinals lineup.  Matt Holiday, Carpenter, and Adams are all super dangerous, and can end your night with one hit.  They all have power and the skill.  Adams displayed the clutch trait in Game 4, where he hit a three run HR to win the series (not a walkoff, but was last run scored that night) in the bottom of the seventh inning.  It was a incredible moment, and giving that Clayton Kershaw gave it up, it was incredibly impressive.

The Cardinals pitching is very good.  The rotation featuring ace Adam Wainwirght, has been excellent this year.  The John Lackey trade has produced a ton of momentum and excitement int his clubhouse.  He brings that energy they coveted.  He’s also pitched very well, and giving what they gave up for him, he better be.

Michael Wacha, who broke out in 2013, hasn’t been the Wacha we know this year.  He struggled with injuries, but didn’t pitch well this regular season.  The Cardinals bullpen is excellent.  Pat Neshek is one of the more underrated relievers in the Majors, and closer Trevor Rosenthal is lock down.

Going against a great Giants lineup, no matter who is pitching for the Cardinals, they can’t give up close to anything.  They have to keep the Giants under control.  They can break out.  If they do, they win the series.  If the Cardinals can contain them, and provide the clutch hitting they have displayed so far, they win.

Prediction: Giants in 7

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