Well, it’s over. The very, very long baseball season is finished. We have a Triple Crown winner, we have a new format for the MLB playoffs, and we have a small market team winning the Central Division again. That Central Division winner, the Cincinnati Reds, are traveling west to take on the San Francisco Giants in a 5-game divisional matchup series.
In what makes this series different from half of the other MLB playoffs matchups, is the first game will have the ace from both teams going at each other. For the Reds, they will sent out Johnny Cueto. The Giants will counter with Matt Cain.
Let’s compare the two starters and see who has the advantage. For the season, Cueto has an ERA of 2.78, Cain has an ERA of 2.79. Well, that’s a wash. Cueto comes in with a 19-9 record; Cain has a 16-6 record. (Possibly advantage Cueto.)
Let’s go a little deeper. Cain has a record of 8-3 at home; Cueto is 9-6 on the road. As you would imagine, that would be an obvious advantage for Cain. Look at ERA for Cain at home, he boasts a 2.03. For Cueto, he comes in with a 2.77 ERA. (Advantage for Cain, as you would expect.)
Most importantly, let’s look at how the two faired when facing the other team. Cain is 0-2 with an ERA of 5.54 against the Reds’ lineup. Cueto is 0-1 with an ERA of 3.00 against the Giants’ lineup. (Advantage Cueto, although neither has a win.)
I predict this opener for the MLB playoffs will be an outstanding pitcher’s duel. The Reds are having a collective problem hitting right now, and the San Francisco ball park is one of the deepest in baseball. Now factor in that Cain and Cueto are two of the best arms in the entire National League.
The first game will be a very low scoring affair. I will be surprised if there are more than 4 runs scored in the entire game.
My prediction for this particular opening game in the MLB playoffs: Reds 3 – Giants 1.