NL Division Series
Surprisingly, this will be the first playoff meeting between the Giants and the Reds despite a combined 261 years of baseball.
The obvious connection between the two teams in recent years is current Reds skipper Dusty Baker, who managed the Giants from 1993 until 2002, coming within a game of the World Series in 2000.
The Reds cruised into the playoffs, winning 97 games in the regular season, nine better than the second place Cardinals.
Cincinnati features an impressive offence led by 2010 National League MVP, Joey Votto and power-hitting outfielders Jay Bruce and Ryan Ludwick. The Toronto, Ontario born Votto had his season cut short due to injury, but performed as well, if not better than he ever had upon his return to the lineup.
The pitching staff includes four hurlers who threw 200-plus innings. Homer Bailey, coming off a late September no-hitter versus the Pirates, will likely start the fourth game of the series, following Johnny Cueto, Bronson Arroyo and Mat Latos. The bullpen features flame-throwing lefty Aroldis Chapman.
Similar to the Reds, the Giants clinched their division in late September, enabling to team to rest some players and get its rotation set prior to the postseason.
Besides catcher Buster Posey, who is a favourite for National League MVP, the Giants feature a roster that has been in a state of flux all season due to injuries and suspensions. Still, thanks to contributions throughout the lineup, they managed to finish sixth in the NL in runs scored.
The Giants strength however, remains its starting pitching. In Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco has one of the best starting duos in baseball. Former two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum had a rough season, finishing with a 5.18 ERA, but looked better down the stretch, helping the Giants win five of the last six games he started. Lincecum is expected to get the ball from manager Bruce Bochy in the pivotal third game in Cincinnati.
The series may hinge on whether the Reds are able to take one of the first two games in San Francisco against the Giants top-of-the-rotation starters. If they are able to do so, Cincinnati will be tough to beat heading back home with Latos and Bailey looking to close things out.
Tale of the Tape
||SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
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