San Francisco Giants
The site of the 2010 NLCS shifts to San Fran, as the San Francisco Giants take on the Philadelphia Phillies in an absolutely pivotal Game 3.
RHP Roy Oswalt kept his undefeated string intact in the City of Brotherly Love over the weekend, taking care of the Giants in a dominating performance in Game 2. The hero of the day was SS Jimmy Rollins, who belted three hits and drove in four runs. If the Phils go on to win this series, there is a good chance that Rollins, who was dropped to No. 6 in the batting order, could win NLCS MVP.
LHP Cole Hamels tossed a five hit shutout in the third and final game of the NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds last week in his best career postseason start ever. The southpaw K'd nine men and was completely dominating against one of the better teams in baseball. It marked his sixth win since August 29th, and he has allowed two runs or less in eight of his L/9 outings. Hamels is a heck of a No. 3 pitcher by any standards, as he had a 3.06 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP this season. Opposing batters hit just .237 against him, over 35 points lower than what they did last year when he was being called upon as the No. 2 pitcher of the staff. Hamels has a 4.67 career ERA against the Giants and is 4-2 to show for eight starts.
The decision to move LHP Jonathan Sanchez up to No. 2 in the rotation is one that might ultimately come back to bite manager Bruce Bouchy in the behind. The southpaw was knocked around in Game 2, and now he gives way to RHP Matt Cain in Game 3. Cain might have his ego beaten up just a bit after being taken down in the rotation, but he is going to be involved in arguably the most important game in his young career on Tuesday afternoon at home. The righty scattered seven hits in 6.2 innings of work against the Atlanta Braves in Game 2 of the NLDS, and he only allowed one unearned run in the process. However, his bullpen let him down, and the G-Men were beaten 5-4. Cain only went 13-11 on the season, but he did pitch four complete games, including two shutouts, and he had a fantastic 3.14 ERA. Perhaps the problem that Cain has is that he has never beaten the Giants. The right hander is only 0-3 with a 6.23 ERA against the men from Philly.
The Giants were a great home team this year, while the Phils were certainly up and down on the road for the majority of the season. We tend to believe that these pitchers are on an even keel, and though we think that the Phils have the better lineup, it is clear that scratching together a few runs could be enough for Cain and a very strong bullpen to get the job done. You can bet that this time around, San Fran won't let one of its top arms down if he puts it in front.
MLB Free Picks: San Francisco Giants +105