By the Numbers
A look at the team numbers might tell you that the Giants aren’t really a great team. Their pitching has been middle of the pack at best, ranking 7th or lower in ERA, ERA+ and FIP. They have, however, managed to keep from hurting themselves with walks (2nd in WHIP and 3rd in K/BB).
The offense is just as hard to get a read on. They’ve managed to hit 132 home runs over the course of the season, good for 7th in the NL. Their OPS ranks 6th in the league, but their OPS+ (when adjusted for ballpark) is good enough for 4th. In other words, they haven’t been the most consistent offense, but they still have their weapons. Just ask the Pirates.
Coming into the series, the Giants certainly can’t be ignored. They just took down one of the hottest teams in the National League, and they carry more than enough experience (two World Series titles in the last four years; 7-0 in elimination games) to pose a serious threat. The Nationals will need to use their own momentum if they want a chance to move on to the next stage of October.
- Buster Posey – In the month of September, Posey hit .393 and slugged .607 with four homers and eighteen driven in. He’s the big bat in the Giants lineup, and easily the one the Nats have to be most wary of.
- Jake Peavy – Having surrendered only five earned runs in his past five starts (31.1 innings), Peavy is the favorite to start Game 1 opposite Strasburg.
- Brandon Belt – Belt’s swing is apparently back: in the last series of the season against the Padres, he hit .500 while slugging .917. That being said, it was against the Padres.
- Hunter Pence – September was not kind to Pence, who managed a pathetic .165 in 100 plate appearances. Washington will certainly try to keep that cold streak going, as Pence can be dangerous on the base paths.
- Gregor Blanco – As Nationals fans can certainly attest, it’s frustrating when your lead-off hitter can’t hit. Blanco is that problem for the Giants; he’s hitting just .213 from the number one spot this season.
The teams will always tell you that they don’t care who they play, but of all the possible matchups that could have materialized from the postseason race, the one against the Giants would appear – by the numbers, at least – to be the most appealing for Washington. In seven head-to-head meetings over the course of the season, the Nationals went 5-2 against the Giants and outscored them by eleven runs.
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The Nationals accomplished this by pounding San Francisco’s pitching into oblivion. However, if they want to succeed against the Giants in October, Washington will have to use a different formula for success. The Giants were the ones supplying the fireworks in their win over the Pirates, so the Nats will need the rotation at its best.
Fortunately, that hasn’t been a problem lately. In fact, in the last 13 starts for the Nats’ usual rotation (that’s Strasburg, Fister, Gio, Zimmermann, and Roark), their record is 13-0. Yes, you read that correctly. No, that isn’t the team’s record in those games. It is the starters’ record.
The series should be a good one, but if Washington can keep up their fantastic pitching, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be able to move on. In my opinion, the Nats drop one in San Francisco but take the series, 3-1.