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October 6, 2012 at 3:58 pm ET
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The Stage Is Set: Reds vs. Giants Preview

Game one is upon us. In just eight short hours the Cincinnati Reds and San Fransisco Giants will clash on the field of AT&T Park in pursuit of the National League’s slot in the¬†Fall Classic.¬†The Reds, despite having the better overall record between the two teams, are forced to start the series playing two games away and coming home for the remainder of the series. This 2-3 format has been the topic of great debate and the platform for some epic Bud Selig bashing (which is always fun in Cincy, what with the whole Pete Rose thing and all.) I, however, don’t really mind the format. If¬†a team is going to make any serious noise in the playoffs they are going to have to¬† win on the road. Period.

Rewind the clock to 2010. The Giants are World Series¬†champs and the Reds were post-season chumps after being swept by Philly in the NLDS. That being said, both of these teams are much different. Primarily the Reds, acquiring Ryan Ludwick¬†and Matt Latos in the off-season¬†(don’t even get me started on Ryan Madson) and “beefing up” the bullpen by signing Royals closer (and possibly my twin) Jonathan Broxton¬†¬†at the trade deadline. Combine that with the maturation of Homer Bailey and Aroldis Chapman along with the emergence of rookies Todd Frazier and Zack Cozart and I think it’s fair to say, “These ain’t your 2010 Reds.” The Giants¬†are different too but look that up on your own time, this is about the REDS! (Hint…Google Brian Wilson. No, not the singer)

Giant’s game one starting pitcher Matt Cain is 0-2 against the Reds this season but has not allowed a single earned run in his 21 1/3 postseason innings pitched. Johnny Cueto likes pitching in San Fransisco and appears to have overcome that three loss skid down the stretch (which surely cost him any chance of winning a¬†Cy Young Award.) Should be quite the pitching duel. No advantage to either starter, both are staff aces. Game two will be Bronson Arroyo vs. Madison Bumgarner. Advantage Bumgarner. I expect a solid outing from Arroyo but submit the edge to the Giants in game two. Game three is Matt Latos vs. either Tim Lincecum or Ryan Vogelsong. Giants skipper Bruce Bochy has not set his rotation beyond game two. Regardless of who¬†Bochy starts I give the edge to Latos, especially at home within the friendly confines of Great American Ball Park. CBS Sports ranks the Reds at no. 1 among the NLDS starting rotations. Giants are third. The two starting rotations are pretty similar but the Reds have a much stronger bullpen. The Giants are better at manufacturing runs but the Reds are no slouch at the plate either.

I think these two teams see each other when they look into their mirrors. Very similar clubs. Giants lose their hottest bat and ALL-Star Game MVP Melky Cabrera who was suspended 50 games¬†for juicing (and should be suspended from the gene pool after that internet stunt) yet somehow continued to find ways to win. The main storyline of this Reds season has been their ability to win despite a 48 game absence of super slugger Joey Votto.¬† Reds skipper Dusty Baker said that this 2012 Reds team reminds him of the 2002 Giants team that he managed when he took them to the World Series. He was referring to, among other things,¬†team chemistry. On the all time list of most wins¬†among active managers Dusty is two and Bochy is three. This series could go either way but I think Cincinnati’s (and baseball’s best) bullpen gives them the edge and the series win.

Attention Everyone! Drew Stubbs will be appearing in centerfield tonight and tomorrow. Please make a note of it…and RELAX. I know he can’t hit anything, ever, but¬†the centerfield at AT&T Park is, like, ginormous and his wheels are a must for defense. Also, since the Reds don’t hit much there, expect uber¬†agressive base running. Stubbs is the right choice. Agreed? K? Now that we’ve settled that…

I’m most interested is watching the play of Joey Votto. Has has yet to hit a homerun since being reactivated on September 4th (knee) and went 1-9 in October leading up to today. If I know anything about Votto it’s that he is very analytical and intensely systematic with his approach to everything. Joey admitted that he will not be 100 percent until next season. With that knowledge he has turned every plate appearance since his return into an experiment, test driving that power leg from every angle. He has been “tinkering” with the competetion since coming back. The experiments are over. The data has been analyzed. After an experiment, I want results. I expect plenty of results from Votto as the Reds embark on another postseason mission.

The stage is set. Enjoy the show…

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