With the World Series set to start on Wednesday night, here's what we think will happen ...
Detroit Tigers fans have been doing a lot of hand-wringing over another long layoff before the World Series, but any concerns should be trumped by the following reality: Justin Verlander against Barry Zito in Games 1 and 5. That's two victories right and the rest of the Tigers starting staff gets the benefit of not only pitching in spacious Comerica Park but roomy AT&T Park as well. The Giants have been a great story and I'd be tempted to pick them if they had time to get their rotation set before entering a series against a Tigers team that is admittedly vulnerable on defense and in its bullpen. But needing all seven games to beat the St. Louis Cardinals comes with a price and that's not being able to get your best matchups out there from the get-go. The one wild card here, though, is San Francisco's Game 2 starter Madison Bumgarner. If 10 days of rest fixed whatever issues he was having, then all bets could be off the table.
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Getting Justin Verlander in Games 1 and 5 plus maybe in an all-arms-on-deck situation in Game 7 will be the difference. It'll more than make up for the left side of the Tigers defense in San Francisco — Miguel Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta and Demon Young, which is the worst in the history of the the World Series. Keeping Austin Jackson off base is absolutely the key to the series for the Giants, but they won't do it and he'll win MVP. Jim Leyland will cry, ooh, he'll cry. Hopefully, a Tigers fan will bring some octopi to throw at Mike Ilitch after Game 7. Not too hard. He'll bruise easily.
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I placed San Francisco at the top of my postseason rankings based on their starting pitching, resiliency, and postseason experience. I'm not about to change my mind now after watching them put all three strengths on full display in rallying to dishearten and defeat the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS. Granted, there are legitimate concerns about the Giants rotation based on the performances of Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum — not to mention Barry Zito is far from a sure bet to repeat his NLCS performance — but I'm just not comfortable betting against San Francisco regardless of what logic or conventional wisdom might suggest.
I have little doubt in my mind Detroit will push them as far as they can go, so I'm expecting a really good series here, but the Giants will push back when they have to and ultimately prevail in Game 7 behind series MVP Ryan Vogelsong.
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Many experts will pick the Tigers to win the World Series and for good reason: They have the best pitcher in the world and the best hitter in the world, and if Justin Verlander starts two or three games, how hard could it be to get another win or two? Awfully hard, if you ask anyone who has faced the Giants this postseason. The Giants have a better bullpen than the Tigers, and Bruce Bochy is a better tactical manager than Jim Leyland. Just imagine Marco Scutaro facing Phil Coke in the ninth inning, and ask yourself who will win that battle.
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Blame Hunter Pence's crazy stare but I think the National League champs are riding into the World Series sporting the eye of the, well, tiger. Intensity rules the day in October and with Detroit coming off not only a snoozy ALCS against the morose Yankees but nearly a week of boring inter-squad scrimmages, they're going to struggle to plate runs against the Giants' suddenly resurgent rotation. San Francisco's balanced lineup may not possess the power of Detroit but three Giants regulars posted an OPS over .900 in the seven-game NLCS led by MVP Marco Scutaro at 1.140.
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Jeff Passan and Tim Brown:
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- Justin Verlander
- Detroit Tigers
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