Halfway through the season, it looked like the Atlanta Braves were going to win the NL East and the San Francisco Giants would be on the outside looking in as the San Diego Padres built up a formidable lead. Flash forward to the end of the season, and the Giants are the NL West champions and the Atlanta Braves were barely able to hold onto the National League Wild Card spot.
Atlanta Braves 2010 MLB NLDS Playoffs Preview
Long-time manager Bobby Cox announced before the season that he was going to retire after the 2010 season. Not wanting to disappoint Cox, who led the Braves to fourteen consecutive division titles from 1991-2005 (there was no division title in 1994 due to a work-stoppage), the Braves players rallied Atlanta to one more playoff appearance for their manager.
The Braves haven’t played nearly as well in September and October as they did early in the season, however, and the Braves look like a very vulnerable playoff team. They don’t have any real standouts on offense outside of Jason Heyward and Brian McCann, and the Atlanta pitching staff has played much better than anyone expected this season. Most of the players on the 2010 Atlanta Braves weren’t around for the glory days of the Braves franchise, and inexperience could play a huge role in the Braves’ ability to continue on in the playoffs.
San Francisco Giants 2010 MLB NLDS Playoffs Preview
So much for Tim Lincecum’s mid-season problems. Lincecum overcame some early season struggles with his command to end the season in style, winning five of his last six starts, striking out 52 batters in 41 2/3 innings during that span. The San Francisco offense isn’t the strongest, perhaps somewhat comparable to the Atlanta Braves offense, but their pitching staff led the National League in ERA and opponent batting average.
The front-three of the Giants’ pitching staff (Lincecum, Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez) are as good as any in the National League except for the Phillies’. San Francisco also had the advantage of ending the season, going 19-10 in September and October. The Giants and Braves seem pretty evenly matched on paper, but the Giants’ edge in pitching is going to be the difference
Braves vs. Giants Conclusion
While the Braves struggled to hold onto their spot in the playoffs, the Giants were playing lights out baseball and pushed their way into the NL West title. Neither team is going to light up the scoreboards on offense, but the Giants’ pitching staff is much stronger than the Braves’ pitching staff. It’ll be a close series, but the Giants will come out the victors in five games.
2010 MLB NLDS Playoffs Prediction: San Francisco Giants defeat Atlanta Braves, 3-2
All statistics retrieved from ESPN.comhttp://espn.go.com/mlb/playoffs/2010/matchup/_/teams/braves-giants