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Check out our breakdown of the NL Divisional Series between the Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants.
Cincinnati Reds (97-65) vs. San Francisco Giants (94-68)
Regular season head-to-head: The Reds won the season series 4-3. Three of the seven contests were decided by one run.
Series odds: Reds -140, Giants +120
The Reds’ starting rotation boasts four pitchers with ERAs under 4.00. The five starters were incredibly durable during the regular season, making every start except one. But the real strength of the Cincinnati ball club is its bullpen. Fireballer Aroldis Chapman leads a deep relief corps that registered a league-low 2.65 ERA this season.
Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain had a combined 6-1 record during San Francisco’s unforgettable championship run in 2010 and they’ll be joined by Madison Bumgarner and Ryan Vogelsong down the stretch this year. The bullpen will certainly miss the playoff experience and swagger of closer Brian Wilson, but the group still features some power arms in Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla that should be able to close out games.
The Cincinnati offense ranked 21st in the majors in runs per game (4.13) and 17th in team batting average (.251) this season. Slugger Joey Votto batted just .227 against Giants pitching this season and also injured his left knee sliding into third base on June 30 at San Francisco, which led to a six-week stint on the disabled list. The Reds still managed to put up runs in Votto’s absence because of other offensive contributors like Jay Bruce (34 homers, 99 RBIs) and Ryan Ludwick (26 homers).
San Francisco has an impressive 30-14 record since OF Melky Cabrera was suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs. Buster Posey has been a monster at the plate, becoming the first catcher to lead the NL in hitting (.336 BA) since Ernie Lombardi in 1942.
Cincinnati put up the second best record in baseball, just a single game behind the Nationals. The Reds finished the campaign with 97 victories – their most in the regular season since the tail end of the Big Red Machine days in 1976.
The Giants finished with 94 wins, the most the franchise has had since 2003, when they won 100 games. Cain gets the ball for Game 1 on Saturday. He has surrendered a run in 21 1/3 innings postseason innings, all during the 2010 championship campaign.
Check out our breakdown of the AL Divisional Series between the Oakland Athletics and Detroit Tigers.
Oakland Athletics (94-68) vs. Detroit Tigers (88-74)
Regular season head-to-head: The Tigers won the season series 4-3.
Series odds: A's +125, Tigers -145
Oakland’s young pitching staff is no doubt the backbone of the ball club. The A's are set to make history by fielding an all-rookie starting rotation this postseason. Travis Blackley, A.J. Griffin, Tom Milone, Jarrod Parker and Dan Straily are all likely to make their postseason debuts after impressive rookie campaigns. Oakland’s bullpen has been equally as impressive, posting a 2.94 ERA, the fourth-best mark in the league.
Nobody wants to face 2011 MVP Justin Verlander multiple times in a short series. With AL strikeout leader Max Scherzer factoring into the equation and feeling good after a return from shoulder fatigue, the Tigers have a potent one-two punch at the front of the rotation. Closer Jose Valverde has converted all four of his career save opportunities in the postseason.
The A’s, whose 14 walkoff victories lead baseball, won their seventh game this year after trailing by four or more runs Wednesday over the Rangers in the AL West clincher. Oakland’s .238 team batting average was one of the worst marks in the league, but its hitters ranked seventh in the majors with 195 home runs, 32 of those coming off the bat of OF Josh Reddick..
Tigers’ first baseman Miguel Cabrera became the first Triple Crown winner in 45 years, finishing the season with a .330 batting average, 44 home runs and 139 RBIs. But he isn’t the only big bat Oakland pitchers should be worried about. Slugger Prince Fielder eclipsed the 30-home run mark for the sixth consecutive season, while racking up 108 RBIs.
Oakland came from 13 games back to capture the AL West title and become the most improbable $59.5-million payroll division winners you’ll ever see. Two of the four teams in MLB history to previously come from 13-or-more games back went on to win the World Series.
The Tigers also had to come from behind to clinch a division title and have been hot down the stretch, going 15-7 over their final 22 games.
The A's look to build on their 8-2 record in Jarrod Parker's last 10 road starts. Oakland is the pick (+170) according to Dunkel, which has the A's favored by 2. Dunkel Pick: Oakland (+170). Here are all of today's picks.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 6
Time Posted: 7:00 a.m. EST
Game 905-906: Cincinnati at San Francisco (9:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Cincinnati (Cueto) 15.119; San Francisco (Cain) 15.960
Dunkel Line: San Francisco by 1; 6
Vegas Line: San Francisco (-125); 6 1/2
Dunkel Pick: San Francisco (-125); Under
Game 907-908: Oakland at Detroit (6:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Oakland (Parker) 17.061; Detroit (Verlander) 15.133
Dunkel Line: Oakland by 2; 8
Vegas Line: Detroit (-200); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Oakland (+170); Over