Chris Moore| BKD TV Insiders
The Fall Classic has finally arrived. The playoffs have been outstanding this year despite not having a winner-take-all Game five or seven yet. All nine LCS games were decided by three runs or less. We have seen numerous close games throughout the postseason and the two teams left standing are the teams with the best bullpens this postseason. The Royals and Giants come into the season with very different histories of the past five seasons. The Royals are a team that hasn’t been to the postseason since 1985 and now that they’re here, they’re making the most of it. No matter what happens in the World Series, the Kansas City front office deserves loads of credit for putting this unit together and they have clicked unbelievably in this postseason. San Francisco comes into the World Series doing what they do in even years. They flat out get it done. As you know, they won the 2010 and 2012 World Series and are now just four wins away from getting three rings in five years.
In today’s game, the bullpen has become the difference. The great teams like Detroit and Washington were bounced in the LDS because of the struggles from their bullpen. Well in Kansas City and San Francisco, the bullpens have been the strength. In 35 innings the Kansas City bullpen has posted a 1.80 ERA with 36 strikeouts. In San Francisco, the Giants have a 1.78 ERA with 30 strikeouts in 35.1 innings. These two bullpens have been tremendous and I expect no different in the World Series. The Royals bring the best seventh, eighth, and ninth inning relievers in the game and maybe the best we’ve seen ever in baseball. They’re that good. The Giants bullpen mastery has a lot to do with Bruce Bochy, the manager. He does as good of a job as anyone in baseball at putting his pitchers in prime positions to be successful. Both teams depend on the bullpens and will also need the starting pitching to work. The Giants have the pitchers with experience and pedigree and the Royals of course are the young guns that might just be too naive to know the big stage they are own which is helping their success. The Royals just ask the starters to give them a chance to win so they can hand the ball to the bullpen and let them win it. Bruce Bochy however has the better starting pitching and gives his guys a chance to go as far into the ball game as they can. Obviously, both strategies have worked to this point.
On the offensive side, neither team will blow you away with power. Considering the fact that both Kansas City and San Francisco are pitchers’ parks don’t expect many home runs in this series. The Giants have the task of slowing down the Royals running game. They perhaps will take a page out of the Orioles playbook to slow down the running game with their positioning of the first baseman and his movement. The Royals swept Baltimore despite stealing just one base in the series. The Giants offense will rely on their two big bats; Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval who are batting .302 and .326 respectively this postseason. Pablo Sandoval amazes me. Every year we hear the questions about his weight and his passion and every October, when the Giants are in the World Series, Pablo Sandoval is their best player. He locks in, gets focused, and plays at another level. It’s special to watch. When the Giants can get runners on for Posey and the Panda, they have a great shot at scoring runs.
Back in August the Royals swept the Giants in a 3 game series in Kansas City. I don’t expect another sweep considering these are two different teams. In 2007, the Colorado Rockies went 7-0 to start the playoffs and looked destined for a World Series. After a 9 day lay-off between the final NLCS game and the first World Series game, the Rockies were swept by the Boston Red Sox. My point? It will have been a week since the Royals last played when Game One of the World Series comes around. The Royals have been a magic carpet ride to this point, but I think that lay-off will ultimately override the postseason magic in Kansas City. The San Francisco Giants have been here, they can handle the lay-off, and ultimately, I believe they’re just a better team. If the World Series gets to Game seven, I would pick Kansas City, but I think the Giants will win the World Series in six games and Joe Panik being the surprise MVP.
Byron K. Dixon-Royals