On paper, the Detroit Tigers have the better offense, but since falling down three games to one in the NLCS, the San Francisco Giants outscored the Cardinals 20-1, so they seem to be firing on all cylinders. With Valverde's playoff implosion, the Giants have the edge in the bullpen, but since game four of the ALDS, the starters for the Tigers have pitched well enough to go deep into the game, and Jim Leyland hasn't had to rely on his reliefers. The 2012 World Series will probably come down to the starting pitching matchups. Let's take a look, shall we?
Disclaimer: pitching matchups are subject to change. The Giants have announced their plans going forward, and the Tigers have only announced their rotation through game four. The longer the Series goes, the more likely we can see changes.
Game 1: 10/24 - Justin Verlander v. Barry Zito
Edge: Tigers. Verlander is a beast at the top of his game, and Zito will be facing a lineup with a lot of potent right handed hitters (Miguel Cabrera, Delmon Young, Austin Jackson, Omar Infante, Jhonny Peralta and Avisail García).
Game 2: 10/25 - Doug Fister v. Madison Bumgarner
Edge: Tigers. On paper, these pitchers are very close. MadBum will be facing a ton of right handed hitters, just like Zito in game one, but what will really make or break his performance is if he has really fixed the mechanical flaw that led to him getting shelled by the Cardinals in the NLCS. Even if he has, it will be a tough for him against the Tigers lineup.
Game 3: 10/27 - Ryan Vogelsong v. Anibal Sánchez
Edge: Giants. Another close call on the matchup. The Tigers will benefit more from the DH, but Vogelsong should fare better on the platoon splits than Zito or Bumgarner. This one is more of a coin toss to me, but since it's more likely that the series will be 2-1 after this game, I think the Giants win this one.
Game 4: 10/28 - Matt Cain v. Max Scherzer
Edge: Giants. Scherzer has been lights out in the playoffs. He gives up the long ball more than Cain, but has a better K/BB ratio though. The Giants probably win this one behind their ace.
Game 5: 10/29 - Zito v. Verlander
Edge: Tigers. Zito has been lousy against RHB all year to the tune of a .281 batting average against and a .823 OPS against. Verlander will likely dominate en route to a Tigers win.
Game 6: 10/31 - Fister v. Bumgarner
Edge: Tigers. See game two above. If Bumgarner doesn't right his ship, Tim Lincecum, a two time Cy Young winner who has been ineffective and relegated to the bullpen, might get the start in this game. This is where I see the Series ending, in front of a packed house of disappointed Giants fans.
Game 7: 11/1 - Sánchez v. Vogelsong
Edge: Tigers. Should the Series go this long, it's possible that Cain might pitch on three days rest, but that would be unlikely unless Vogelsong implodes or gets injured. When Anibal was still pitching in the National League, he went 3-0 at AT&T Park with a 0.36 ERA. A repeat performance would certainly be enough to win game seven.
Bruce Bochy is making an interesting decision to start Cain only once in the series, when he could have scheduled two starts by both Cain and Vogelsong. Whether that decision will be a big factor, time alone will tell. Bottom line is that the Tigers have the arms to win the World Series, but probably won't close it out while still in the D.
My pick: TIGERS IN SIX. 'NUFF SAID.