Giants vs. Reds NLDS Preview: 5 Questions, 5 Answers


Sep. 14, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence (8) is congratulated by teammates after defeating the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. The Giants defeated the Diamondbacks 6-2. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-US PRESSWIRE

Can Cain Get The Giants Started On A Good Note?

If Cain had to pick three hitters he could avoid on the Reds’ roster, he would presumably choose Jay Bruce, Ryan Ludwick, and Joey Votto given past results. More simply, the beef of the Reds’ lineup.

The left-handed swinging Bruce is is 6-13 off Cain, Ludwick is 8-22 with three home runs, and Votto is 7-23. Granted, some of those stats date back to quite a few years in the past. Things have changed. Cain has become more of a “pitcher” than a thrower, but numbers are numbers. And in this situation, the numbers show that Bruce, Ludwick, and Votto are Cain’s worst nightmares.

Will The Giants Hit Mat Latos?

It’s safe to assume that Mat Latos enjoys feasting on the Giants. It wasn’t too long ago that he signed baseballs autographed “I hate SF”. Since, a mini rivalry has sparked between him and the Giants. But he easily has the upper hand. In 11 career starts against them, he’s 4-3 with a 2.19 ERA. He also tossed a two-hitter earlier this year against them.

Latos is slated to start game three on Tuesday against Tim Lincecum. Will he continue his success against his rivals?

Should The Giants Take Joey Votto’s Struggles Seriously?

Joey Votto is Joey Votto. He’s still the same guy who had an OPS over 1.000 in May and June. But that same guy has yet to reveal himself since coming off the DL. He has yet to hit a home run since returning, and he will be trudging into the postseason, having hit just .278/.458/.389 in his final six games of the year.

So the question is, will Votto be a factor in this series?

It certainly appears that the knee injury he suffered in mid-July is hampering him from being the Joey Votto we have all become accustom to. But Votto, like most players of his caliber, have the natural instinct to get hot when it matters. Past results such as the mini slump he’s in the midst of currently might as well be thrown away. He has a clean slate, the stakes are higher, and the adrenaline is pumping.

So to answer the question, no, San Francisco shouldn’t take his struggles seriously.

Will Hunter Pence Make The Reds Pay?

Pay for what? Pay for walking Buster Posey, the favorite to win the National League MVP award. In the playoffs, there’s no messing around with the stakes as high as they can possibly be. If the Reds have a base open with runners in scoring position and Posey is at the plate, you better believe that they’re going to seize the opportunity to avoid his bat. This means that Pence will probably get plenty of chances to be a hero. Not just by driving in runs, but by forcing Reds’ pitchers to pitch to Posey.

If his final seven games of the year are any indication, then Posey is relatively safe from getting walked constantly. You might be looking at the stats and seeing that Pence’s batting average during that seven game stretch was north of .200, but he hit three home runs. The Giants don’t need him to get three hits a game. They need him to get the hits with runners in scoring position, and specifically when Posey’s walked before him.

Can Marco Scutaro Continue To Hit?

In a short series such as this five game set, players like Scutaro generally make their mark because they are consistent. In comparison, he’s much better suited for short series then say Angel Pagan, Pablo Sandoval, or Hunter Pence. Those three are either going to struggle or dominate, whereas Scutaro doesn’t fall in a specific category except consistent.

If he and Pagan continue to set the table for the heart of the Giants’ lineup, then the Reds will face some sticky situations. They also won’t be able to walk Posey every time if the bases are already occupied.