2012 MLB Playoffs: Year of the Pitcher to Continue Friday

Alex SandersonCorrespondent IIIOctober 12, 2012

OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 11:  Pitcher Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers celebrates after the Tigers defeat the Oakland Athletics 6-0 in Game Five of the American League Division Series at O.co Coliseum on October 11, 2012 in Oakland, California. Verlander pitched a complete gae shut out as the Tigers advance to the American League Championship Series.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The 2012 Major League Baseball season has been one dominated by pitchers across the sport. That has been no different throughout the divisional league playoffs, all of which have gone to the deciding fifth game.

In advancing to the Championship Series yesterday, the San Francisco Giants and Detroit Tigers both rode the backs of their ace pitchers. Matt Cain and Justin Verlander, respectively, had enough to get their teams over the hump.

Verlander was absolutely dominant, throwing a complete-game, four-hit shutout to knock off the Oakland Athletics. In fact, the 2011 AL MVP only allowed a total of eight hits and one run in the series, epitomizing why he is one of the game's top pitchers, if not the best.

Cain was his best for four innings against the Cincinnati Reds, but struggled a bit after his team put up a six spot in the top of the fifth inning. Either way, the 2010 playoff standout did what he needed to complete an impressive 2-0 comeback to win the series.

Fast forward to today and we have two more deciding games to see who will advance to face the Tigers and Giants in the league championship series.

The first game features one of the best clutch pitchers in C.C Sabathia, who will try to get the New York Yankees yet another playoff series win. He is certainly worthy of matching Verlander and Cain in big names wrapping up a series.

Aside from a five-run ninth inning outburst by the Yankees in Game 1, only 17 runs have been scored in four games in their series against the Baltimore Orioles. While the average fan may not be able to name even one Oriole pitcher, the Baltimore starters have been doing a great job in limiting a potent Yankee lineup.

Sabathia will be going up against Jason Hammel, a man that matched him in Game 1 as it was tied through eight innings. The Yankee ace should have a nice edge in a do-or-die situation.

The last team to book their ticket into the next round will be either the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals or the surprising Washington Nationals. Both teams will send out their ace pitchers tonight and it should be quite a duel.

The Cardinals/Nationals series has featured two blowout wins by the Cardinals and two close wins by the Nationals in low scoring affairs. With Cy Young candidate Gio Gonzalez on the mound for Washington, the Nationals will be looking to continue the trend of how they have won their other two games this series.

Adam Wainwright struggled at the start of this season for St. Louis, but did have a strong second half and was one of the top pitchers in baseball before having Tommy John surgery in 2011.

The way this season and playoffs have gone, it would be quite surprising if today's deciding games were not closely contested and low scoring. The Yankees and Orioles could even have a third consecutive extra inning contest.