The two teams are more similar to each other than they are different. Each team has gotten to the World Series behind excellent pitching and great hitting.
However, they each have varying keys to winning this series.
Regaining Momentum After a Break
It's been six days since the Detroit Tigers last took the field in their sweep of the New York Yankees.
The sweep, in conjunction with the seven-game NLCS, has provided the Tigers with ample time to rest up before their World Series meeting with the San Francisco Giants.
In 2006, Detroit had a similar rest experience before their last appearance in the World Series. Similarly, they swept the Oakland Athletics and were forced to wait for the St. Louis Cardinals to win in seven.
St. Louis won the World Series in 2006 for a simple reason: they had momentum on their side.
Jim Leyland has been working with his team to keep their momentum up after their impressive ALCS.
"It wasn't like in 2006, where some people would indicate we sat around happy to get [to the World Series], not doing anything, eating bon-bons,” said Leyland. “So this time we've done some things to try to keep us from being idle for four or five days. I definitely think it affected the last World Series."
According to ESPN, Leyland has had his team “working on bunts, playing against their instructional league team and letting ace Justin Verlander throw to hitters.”
If this World Series is going to be different than Detroit’s loss in 2006, they will need to show that they have shaken off the rust, and that they have retained their momentum coming into Game 1.
Starting Pitching Excellence Must Continue
Detroit held the powerful Yankees offense to just six runs in their four-game sweep.
Detroit’s starting pitchers were able to dominate players like Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson.
This utter dominance of the Yankee hitters was lead by tremendous starting pitching.
Cy Young-candidate Justin Verlander and the Detroit starting rotation have been strong throughout the playoffs.
This postseason, Verlander and Doug Fister have ERA’s of .74 and 1.35 respectively. These two will look to continue their excellent pitching in the first two games of the series.
Anibal Sanchez is expected to start Game 3 of the series. He has a career ERA of 1.98 against San Francisco. Detroit will need Sanchez to turn in a great performance in what will prove to be a pivotal Game 3.
And If Detroit can get a solid outing from Max Scherzer, they can get back to Verlander in a potential Game 5.
Each pitcher has shown brilliance this postseason. There is not a weak man in this rotation, and Jim Leyland has confidence when he hands them the ball to start the game.
San Francisco Giants
Have to Hit and Hit Often
The San Francisco Giants’ come-from-behind win in the NLCS was fueled by excellent hitting.
This season, the Giants were fifth in the league in team batting average at .269.
In the NLCS, the Giants’ bats exploded. Behind excellent production by second baseman Marco Scutaro and catcher Buster Posey, the Giants were able to overcome a 3-1 deficit to the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Giants come up against one of the best rotations in baseball. They will need their bats to continue to stay hot against the likes of Verlander and Fister if they want to have any chance in this series.
Need Big Performances from Zito and Bumgarner
Detroit’s sweep of the Yankees has allowed them enough time to rest their starting pitchers. The Giants did not have that luxury.
While Detroit can send Justin Verlander and Doug Fister to the mound for Games 1 and 2, the Giants will have to rely on streaky pitchers Barry Zito and Madison Bumgarner.
Zito, who will get the nod for Game 1, is coming off a phenomenal performance in a must-win Game 5 of the NLCS. In that game, Zito gave up just six hits, zero runs, and struck out six.
He will need to have an equally impressive game against the Tigers in Game 1. With Verlander on the mound for the Tigers, Zito will be lucky to have even a couple runs to work with. If he pitches as well as he did in Game 5 of the NLCS, he gives the Giants a chance to take Game 1 of the World Series.
Madison Bumgarner, on the other hand, has not had a great postseason. In his last two starts, Bumgarner has not pitched past the fourth inning. He has given up 15 hits, and worse than that, he has surrendered a horrendous 10 runs.
Despite this, Bruce Bochy recently announced that Bumgarner will be the starter of Game 2. Bumgarner will need to find better form in the World Series to give San Francisco a chance to win.
If San Francisco can get good outings from these two starters, they give themselves a great chance to win the first two games of the series.