We knew the Giants were not going to make it easy against the Braves. We knew postseason baseball for the Giants had to resemble the regular season—torturous.

San Francisco won their NL Divisional Series against Atlanta 3-1 and will face the Philadelphia Phillies starting on Saturday.

There were many things the Giants did well.


Starting pitching

What more could the starting pitchers have done? None of them had been to the postseason before and all of them pitched like it was just another game.

Between Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner, the starting pitchers threw 28.2 innings, allowing four runs while striking out 36.

They absolutely shut down Jason Heyward and Derrek Lee. The Braves were only able to muster a .175 batting average in the series.


Ability to come back

Three times in the series, the Giants came back from deficits to win.

In Game 3, the Giants scored twice in the ninth to take a 3-2 lead and win. In Game 4, San Francisco came back twice.

With the Giants trailing 1-0 in the sixth inning, Cody Ross unloaded on a Derek Lowe pitch and planted it in the left field bleachers. The Braves tied the game the following inning on a Brian McCann home run. In the seventh, the Giants loaded the bases and tied the game on a fielder’s choice by Juan Uribe.

The Giants would retake the lead on a Ross single to left.

San Francisco never quit and showed great poise, not to just come back, but to do so on the road twice.

Now, we know the Giants still have some issues to workout.


Offense as a whole

Despite winning the series 3-1, the Giants only scored 11 runs in four games. The game in which they scored the most (Game 2), the Giants lost.

They were very good about taking pitches and running up pitch counts during this series but it has been uncharacteristic of them and may not suit them well against the Phillies.


Sergio Romo

What do the Giants do with Sergio Romo?

He had two bad outings against the Braves but I do not expect that to cost him a roster spot for the NLCS. The question is, when do you use him?

He was not used in the series clinching Game 4. Instead, Santiago Casilla and Javier Lopez were used in the eighth. This could show a lack of confidence in Romo or it could be a way to let him regroup and collect himself before the NLCS.

Whatever the case, it has to be solved before Saturday.

This brings us to the matchup itself. Phillies vs. Giants. The following are the projected pitching matchups:

Game 1: Tim Lincecum (SF) vs. Roy Halladay (PHI)

Game 2: Matt Cain (SF) vs. Roy Oswalt (PHI)

Game 3: Cole Hamels (PHI) vs. Jonathan Sanchez (SF)

Game 4: Roy Halladay (PHI) vs. TBD (SF)

Game 5*: Roy Oswalt (PHI) vs. TBD (SF)

Game 6*: TBD (SF) vs. Cole Hamels (PHI)

Game 7*: TBD (SF) vs. Roy Halladay (PHI)

The Giants starting staff will face a much more daunting task with the Phillies lineup, although this is a Phillies lineup that has scuffled most of the year, mainly because of injuries.

Philadelphia’s lineup is much more susceptible to striking out and that may play a huge factor in this series. The Braves are a much more patient team (634 BB to 560 BB).

Atlanta was fourth in Major League Baseball in on-base percentage. Philadelphia was 11th.

I left the pitching probables for the Giants blank for games 4-7 because it may depend on how the Giants are faring in the series. It may also depend on who is on the roster.

Over the next couple of days, Barry Zito and Jose Guillen’s names will come up and it has to be decided whether to leave them off or put them back on.

With a longer series, an additional pitcher may provide useful for the Giants but is that pitcher Zito?

Could it be Chris Ray?

Ray and Guillen have been battling injuries and that was one of the main reasons Guillen did not make the NLDS roster. Guillen’s health may determine his spot on the roster.

But if Guillen is on, who is off?

Aaron Rowand did not contribute in the NLDS but playing against his former team may breathe some life into him. Edgar Renteria dropped what could have been a crucial pop up in the eighth inning of Game 4. Luckily it did not make a difference but defensive concerns were apparent in the series with Atlanta (See: Brooks Conrad).

Most of these questions will be answered over the next week. The NLCS is nothing new to the Phillies and the Giants will be playing the role of underdogs.

But watching the Giants this season, I don’t think they’d have it any other way.

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