October 5, 2010 at 8:28 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves
The National League Division Series starts at 9:37 PM EST on Thursday. Today the team held a workout at Turner Field before they embarked on their journey across the country to face the Giants. Tomorrow they’ll probably hold a short workout in San Francisco, but mostly they’ll be enjoying the much-needed time off. Hopefully with three days of rest, the team will be fit and ready to go Thursday night.
In the mean time, fellow SweetSpotter Chris Quick of the Giants-centric Bay City Ball was kind enough to answer a few questions about the Giants for us Braves fans. His expert insights are much appreciated, and without further ado:
1. The strength of the Giants seems to be their starting pitching. Which starters will the Braves face in the NLDS?
Right now, it appears that the Giants are considering leaving Barry Zito out of the NLDS rotation — and maybe even the NLDS roster. If so, Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Jonathan Sanchez should get the first three starts in the series. If Barry Zito isn’t an option — and he probably shouldn’t be — the Giants will either go with Madison Bumgarner in game four or Tim Lincecum on three days rest.
2. Buster Posey’s rookie season has drawn a lot of attention, but Madison Bumgarner’s rookie season has also been quite impressive. Will we see Bumgarner in the NLDS–either as a starter or as a reliever–and if so can you give us a quick scouting report on the 21-year-old lefthander?
Bumgarner’s status is kind of up in the air right now. If the Giants are up, say 2-1, he could very well start game four. If game four is a must win, they might start Linceum on short rest. I like the idea of having Bumgarner in the bullpen but Zito’s crash and burn from August to October (11 GS, 55.2 IP, 38 ER, 6.14 ERA) may very well force the Giants’ hand.
Bumgarner’s scouting report is this: strike-thrower, somewhat deceptive pitching motion (throws across his body), works primarily off of a 88-92 mph fastball and a 82-84 slurvy breaking ball. He’ll also mix in a changeup now and then. He has made some nice strides this year with his offspeed stuff and after his velocity was down in Spring Training, it’s climbed back to acceptable levels.
3. With Andres Torres, Pat Burrell, Cody Ross, Jose Guillen, Aaron Rowand, and Nate Schierholtz in the fold, the Giants’ outfield is difficult to figure out. What outfield alignment do you think the Giants will use? (note: they won’t be facing any left-handed starters in the NLDS)
I expect that we’ll see Burrell in LF, Torres in CF, and most likely, to the disappointment of Giants’ fans, Jose Guillen in RF. Personally, I’d much rather see Cody Ross or Nate Schierholtz in RF. Guillen is a notoriously bad fielder and his batting line with the Giants (.266/.317/.375) isn’t nearly enough to compensate for his diminished range. Cody Ross started slow, but he’s now OPS’ing over .800 with the Giants and his defense in RF is a plus. If the Giants were smart, they would bench Guillen and replace him with Ross.
4. Apart from Brian Wilson, which relief pitchers should the Braves be concerned about facing?
Sergio Romo (2.95 FIP) is a favorite among fans. His goofy frisbee slider is almost unhittable and he throws it nearly 40% of the time. Santiago Casilla has been a great addition this year’s ‘pen. He throws in the upper-90′s and he’s posted a 3.15 FIP this season. Javier Lopez is our lefty specialist and you expect that he’ll match up with Jason Heyward at least a few times in the series.
5. Aubrey Huff: best FA signing of the year?
One of the best, if not the best. Huff’s season in San Francisco has been unbelievable. After his -1.4 win (yes, that’s a negative) season in 2009, Huff was basically the Giants’ “Plan C” after the team failed to sign Adam LaRoche and Nick Johnson. Huff has looked incredible all year long, showcasing power (.216 isolated power) and patience (12.4% walk-rate). It’s all been worth 5.9 wins above replacement for the Giants. He’s a major reason that team has been competitive this year and all for just a salary of $3M.
Thanks a bunch to Chris for the thoughtful answers, it was a pleasure working with him. Be sure to check out Bay City Ball throughout the postseason and beyond for all your San Francisco Giants analysis needs.
Update: I answered some questions for Bay City Ball as well.