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— Cubs Baseball for Thinking Fans
Thursday, October 06, 2016
Bring on the Giants
This will be a very unorganized preview, but I wanted to get something up to talk about here. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of previews to read. Most will say something along the lines of the Cubs are the better team on paper, but it’s an even year and the Giants and a proven October winner. Since I don’t believe in that - or curses/jinxes - but realize anything can happen in a short series, I’ll say the Cubs are clearly the better team on paper but the Giants will be a tough match (and a tougher matchup than the banged-up Mets would have been).
First, the season series. Cubs won 4-3, outscoring the Giants 23-17 in those 7 games.
Cueto is lined up to start game 1 and game 5, both against Lester. He’s had plenty of success against the Cubs in his career, although a lot of that came during the down/rebuilding years. The Cubs are lucky to face Bumgarner once, and I think i’ll be interesting to see if Maddon starts both Montero (because he’s Jake’s catcher) and Heyward against him. Personally, I’d sit Heyward, and have Zobrist in RF and Baez at 2nd (Soler in LF). Of course, Baez could easily look just as bad as Heyward (or worse, striking out 4 times). I haven’t seen the Giants rotation yet, but the Cubs should have an obvious pitching advantage in games 2 and 4. The Giants pen has been inconsistent, to say the last, but they have starters than can go deep in games and Bochy really, really, really loves to matchup out of the pen (he used multiple relievers for less than inning almost every game against the Cubs in September).
As a team hitting, the Giants are 4 in BB% at 9.1% (Cubs are first at 10.4%), 2nd in K% at 17.7% (Cubs are 15th at 21.1%), 27th in ISO at .140 (Cubs 7th at .173), and 18th in wOBA at .315 (Cubs 3rd at .333). They’re an average offensive team over all, including baserunning. However, they’re a good defensive team by some measures (2nd to the Cubs in dWAR and DefEff), although IMO their OF defense leaves a bit to be desired. So their FIP was actually slightly better than the Cubs (3.76 vs 3.77), even though their ERA was a bit worse (3.69 vs 3.15) ; bb-ref park factors rated their stadium as slightly hitter friendly this year, though it’s usually considered a pitchers’ park.
Although it’s completely irrelevant, the fact that the Giants were the “best” team in the first half will be brought up ad nauseam this series; although to be honest that bugs me because the Cubs were better than them until early July (with a significantly better run differential) and blew past them again shortly after the break. As will the Giants October success (11 straight playoff series wins), not to mention the even year bullshit. People will also say the Giants are built to win in the playoffs - they’re a high contact team without a ton of quality depth (which is less important come a short series), although most of their best hitters had off years. They are without a doubt a tough matchup, and I am not taking a series win for granted. However, the Cubs still are stronger in just about every facet, and so I’ll say Cubs in 4.
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