How fitting is it that 2 of the 3 teams who were battling it out right down to the final game of the season would face each other in the NLDS? Both of these teams didn’t know their playoff fates until the very last pitch of the 162nd game of their schedules. The Giants haven’t been to the post-season in quite some time, but for Atlanta Braves fans it wasn’t that long ago when the Braves were annual contenders for the World Series. With this being Bobby Cox’s last year could the players rally, emotionally, around him and pull off another series? They’ll certainly need something to rally around because when it breaks down, the lack of rest combined with a couple of key missing players could spell the end of the Braves season.
As is the key with most baseball playoff series, pitching will be the key. The Braves having the grind out the last week or so will be one of the determining factors in this series. Game 1 starting pitcher Derek Lowe was a rock for the Braves this year putting up a respectable 16-12 record. However, with the Braves battling for their playoff lives he pitched on just 3 days rest for his last start. Will he be 100% fresh or will the effects of short rest catch up to him? That’s only the start of problems for Bobby Cox’s staff. His #2 pitcher, Tim Hudson, went on 3 days of rest twice down the stretch to ensure the Braves got to play October baseball. Beyond that, who else will Cox throw to the mound? All signs point to Tommy Hanson being the guy to go in game 3. As a fan of the Braves you can’t feel particularly good about your chances with that line up…especially when you look at who the Giants have. When you look at the stats you may be surprised, but Jonathan Sanchez is the man with the best ERA on the Giants staff at 3.07. Cain is right behind him though and Tim Lincecum is far off those two either. A deadly 1,2,3 lineup of Giants pitchers who are rested vs an uncertain Braves lineup who is working on short rest will be the main story in this series.
The other story line to follow will be the Braves lack of offense due to Prado and Jones being out of the lineup. With them gone, the only one to hit more than 20 homers was Brian McCann. An even more shocking stat is that no one on the team had more than 80 RBIs. Compare this to the Giants who had Posey hitting .305 with 18 bombs and at least 8 different guys hit 10 or more bombs. Oh yeah, did I mention Uribe and Huff both hit more than 20 homers too?
The series odds vary at our recommended online sportsbooks, with the best odds being as follows:
Pitching will be the deciding factor in this series. It’s possible that one of the big 3 for the Giants has a bad game, but to think that it will happen more than once is unrealistic. The Braves had to stretch their pitching staff too thin during their push for the post season and it will prove to be their undoing. This series will be over in 3 for San Francisco.
Series Prediction: San Francisco Giants -159
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Written by: Allan Etmanski