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Tuesday, October 04, 2016

NL Wild Card Game Preview

Well, the day that most Giants fans have been anticipating since late August when we pretty much knew the NL West was out of the picture has arrived. And sure, it's a team sport and there will be numerous factors at play, it really all comes down to two people: Madison Bumgarner and Noah Syndergaard.

First off, both pitchers going have had very strong seasons, as we know by watching MadBum all year what he's been up to, but young Noah Syndergaard has matched him nearly number for number despite the amount of innings pitched. Sydergaard strikes out a ton of batters, doesn't walk many and doesn't give up the long ball, mostly because he brings a nasty sinker that can hit the upper-90's when he's on along with an array of other above average pitches. The Giants, however, are no strangers to facing big pitchers in big games and certainly won't be intimidated by any stretch traveling into New York and what will be a rowdy Citi Field. In fact, I think the Giants thrive on these underdog type scenarios. Not saying they're the underdogs necessarily, most people over at Yahoo Sports have the Giants walking away from this one victorious but they're gonna have to figure out a way to get to the young Mets' righty early, or else their in for trouble.

One area in which the Mets have the clear upper hand is in the bullpen. The Giants' pen have been dreadful in the second half and although multiple factors have been at play, the bullpen has been the epicenter of their second half meltdown. They just couldn't manage to keep leads after the 7th inning of ballgames or else we're not even talking about this game and talking about an upcoming NLDS vs. the Washington Nationals.

For MadBum it's not going to be anything new, and we all know he thrives on the big stage like this, but Bumgarner hasn't quite been the dominant MadBum we're used to recently. Not that he's been bad but he's carried an ERA around 4 for the last two months of the regular season and gave up 8 runs over his two starts to end the season. Nevertheless, I expect Bum on his game tomorrow, and it wouldn't surprise me to see him help himself at the plate. In fact, I could see it being a 0-0 game into the middle innings and having an unlikely person from either side put the first run(s) on the board like a big hit from one of the starters or a big defensive mishap that opens the door for the opposing team. I can definitely see a game where runs are scored late in the game and that's when it could be decided, which would be bad news for the Giants. They're best case scenario is to have MadBum get it at least to the 8th inning with a lead, therefore Boch won't be forced to go to the pen often at all. If we're seeing the bullpen in the 6th inning (even if it's happening with the Mets as well), the odds sway heavily in New York's favor.

The Giants have the experience and the big game pitcher, however their bullpen is a crap-shoot and they could be without their starting third basemen. The Mets have the home field advantage, which is big in a one-game playoff like this, and are coming in on a roll, having won four of their last five ballgames to close things out (and pitching terrifically in the process). Lets not forgot that this is pretty much the same team that represented the NL in the World Series last season too, so their bunch is far from timid in the October spotlight. One positive for MadBum and the Giants though is that most of the Mets' big "thumpers" (Curtis Granderson, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jay Bruce and Lucas Duda) are left-handed, but two of their other top hitters, Jose Reyes and Yeonis Cespedes, both feast on lefties and have been hot.

All that said, this is such a tough one to predict, and I don't know that I can make a guess as to who will win this ballgame, I think it's that even. The Mets are hungry and finished strong, they also came within three victories of a World Championship last fall. These Giants sort of just wound up in the postseason based on their incredible first half because if you just saw their second half alone, you'd think they'd have no business being in the playoffs whatsoever. Being completely objective and based on the lineups being thrown out by both squads, I'd say the needle leans ever so slightly in the Mets favor, but until I see him fail, I can't bet against MadBum in October. So I say the Giants squeak it out, 5-4. Either way, I think it's going to be a tight, 1-run game that's going to undoubtedly have us all on the edge of our seats through the ninth inning.

We'll be back tomorrow with the reaction and I gotta say, even with the three championships the last 7 years, and covering the team through all it's success, I'm just as nervous for this game as I've been for any other early round playoff elimination game. As well all know, if the Giants do make it through, they're in pretty good shape for five and seven game series', just because of that starting pitching and the way they're all throwing the ball. Of course, they get the best team in baseball if they do make it through tomorrow, but let's just take this one day at a time! Good luck getting any sleep tonight Giants faithful!
The Giants Baseball Blog


  • At 11:20 PM, Anonymous Giants Faithful Since '82 said…

    No way Mets beat Bum! Not in October, I don't care if "Thore" or whatever they call him can throw a 98 MPH sinker and can be like Kevin Brown in his prime out there, the Giants are studs in October and I will never bet against them!


  • At 11:58 PM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…


    Let's not forgot that the Mets were in the 'Series last year, and aside from a few of their top starting pitchers, have pretty much the same bunch of guys going out there tomorrow. They're not going to be scared of going against MadBum or the Giants, especially behind a guy who's their version of MadBum. In a 7-game series where the Giants starting pitching depth would outshine the NY's, then I think the Giants would take it, hands down.But, in a one-gamer where both starters can be equally effective and with that Mets lineup who has a handful of guys who can hit the 3-run, game-changing home run and the Giants really don't have that type of personnel, then I think it evens things out a bit.

    So long as the Giants can avoid that big home run and big inning then they should be OK. The Mets don't really sustain rally's and score that way, they get a runner or two on and knock one out. The Giants have the Brandon's, Buster and Pence too, so they have some thump to but the Mets have 4 guys who hit more HR's in '16 than anyone on the Giants team! If the Mets flex their muscles with the home run tomorrow the Giants will be in trouble.. If Bum/bullpen keeps them in the yard, the Giants will likely take the game.. Just my opinion...

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