Written by Jon Lee
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AccuScore’s 2012 World Series Prediction
Detroit had to sit and wait before finally finding out that San Francisco will be their opponent in the World Series. The Tigers, behind the strength of their starting pitchers, begins the final series of the year as significant favorites winning more than 72 percent of the time.
San Francisco wins just 27.7 percent of the time, mostly due to uncertainty in the pitching staff. Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong have been great both in the regular season and postseason, but Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum have both been poor recently. Barry Zito has been better in the playoffs and will start Game 1, but his season-long numbers do not stack up well against the Tiger starters. Cain and Vogelsong had to start Games 6 and 7 in the NLCS which leaves the Giants a quandary as to who will start Game 2 in this series. Lincecum, according to simulations, is the worst option among the five starters and would likely do better in a relief role.
The Tigers had the advantage of setting up their rotation so that Justin Verlander could potentially start three times during this series. Behind him are Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, and Anibal Sanchez lined up and well-rested. The problem for Detroit – the bullpen – is a true strength for San Francisco. Jose Valverde has been very erratic as the Tiger closer, and has lost a bit of velocity off his pitches. Phil Coke was acting as an interim closer in the ALCS, but his track record suggests a very mediocre pitcher. Detroit will be hoping the starters pitch deep into games, and are so dominant the bullpen doesn’t come into play very much.
The Giants could have a much better chance to win than the numbers suggest if Valverde continues to struggle and Coke reverts to his traditional form. They must beat Verlander at least once, and maintain their hope bats to get the Detroit starters out after just five or six innings. San Francisco has the clearly better bullpen, and should focus on making every game incumbent on the relievers for both teams.