Last night Madison Bumgarner put on one of the most brilliant postseason performances many of us have ever seen. He just took the rock for 9 innings and shut the Mets down. But there is much more to this San Francisco club than one Bumgarner. They’re a roster loaded with experience, paired with a cast of guys ready to make their names known — just like last night’s hero Conor Gillaspie. So, without further ado, let’s take a peek at our next opponent.
The Giants will likely be going with a 4-man rotation; Bumgarner, Cueto, Samardzija, and Moore. These guys are pretty tough across the board, with Bumgarner being the most feared of the group — and for good reason. Despite not racking up a ton of Ks against the Mets Wednesday, Bumgarner is averaging close to 10 Ks/9 innings over the course of 2016, which could cause problems for some of Chicago’s boom or bust hitters (think Soler, Baez, and even Rizzo). As far as the other 3, these guys are very hittable. Both Cueto and Samardzija are capable of giving up the long ball, which doesn’t bode well against a long ball-hitting team — especially inside the Friendly Confines.
San Francisco, in many ways, is the antithesis of the Cubs in terms of means of production. While Chicago relies on extra-base hits and homers, San Fran is the traditional National League-style small-ball lineup. These guys know how to work counts deep, get on base, and get into scoring position with heads-up base-running. That makes it super important for Cubs’ starters to get ahead in counts early and often, doing everything possible to make sure our aces stay on the table deep into games. In Jon, Jake, Kyle, and John we trust.
THE LITTLE THINGS:
In terms of fielding, base-running, and managing, the Giants are formidable. This is a team that will not make bonehead mistakes, and will not miss out on opportunities to capitalize off of their opponents mistakes.
Still, as is often the case, these games are going to be tight, and may be decided the performance of each bullpen. That means strategy is going to play a key role in how the Giants decide to attack a very dangerous Cubs lineup late in games.
The Cubs went 4-3 against San Fran this season, with the bulk of those games coming during the stretch of the season where the Giants were playing their best. Still, after a pretty awful second half, San Fran looks to have righted the ship, meaning this series is nothing to laugh off. Time to dig in and stay focused.