The Tigers' Miguel Cabrera celebrates after hitting a two-run home… (Matt Slocum / Associated…)
Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis will be offering analysis of the San Francisco Giants and Detroit Tigers in conversations with Times contributor Steve Dilbeck throughout the World Series. Always known for his defense, Ellis batted .270 and led the Dodgers in walks this season, his first full year as a starter.
In this edition, he examines the Series' matchups and predicts the outcome:
It's going to be really hard for me to do this next year when the Dodgers are in the World Series …
Giants: It's all about Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro getting on base. These two guys make the lineup go. They set the table for Pablo Sandoval, and my National League MVP, Buster Posey. That's a challenge for the Tigers' pitching, to keep the top guys off.
Tigers: The Tigers are about the guys in the middle. They have arguably the best 3-4 combination in baseball. The triple crown winner, and American League MVP in my opinion, Miguel Cabrera, and Prince Fielder hitting behind him. And then there is ALCS MVP Delmon Young, who seems to have his biggest at-bats in the playoffs.
Edge: Tigers. The sluggers in the middle of the lineup know how to have quality at-bats, hit for a high average and take walks when they're given to them. They take walks because they're pitched around. I take walks because I forget to swing.
Giants: They slowed down in the second half of the season but have kind of reclaimed in the St. Louis series their status as a pitching staff. Barry Zito is probably coming off the start of his career. Ryan Vogelsong has had an outstanding postseason. Matt Cain is only the second pitcher in baseball history to win two elimination games in the same postseason.
The question for the Giants is who their fourth starter is going to be. It seems like their choice, Madison Bumgarner, has run out of gas. Tim Lincecum has obviously had the worst season of his professional career this year. Can he bounce back and be the big-game pitcher he was when he won consecutive Cy Youngs?
Tigers: Not only do they have the best hitter in baseball, Cabrera, they have the best — ooh, this is hard for me to say — uh, the best pitcher in Justin Verlander; if he's one, then Clayton Kershaw is 1A. I can't put one ahead of the other. Then Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer were all dominant against the New York Yankees.
The question here is, was the pitching dominant or were the Yankees just in a funk that made the pitching look good?
Giants: An excellent mix of right-handers and left-handers. Guys like George Kontos, Guillermo Mota, Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez, these are the main guys trying to get the ball to back-end guys Jose Mijares and Sergio Romo. They are not big-name guys but have been effective and done an outstanding job in the postseason.
Tigers: The big uncertainty. They struggled mightily down the stretch and in the playoffs. The one guy who saved two games in the ALCS is Phil Coke. Or are they going to find some renewed confidence and trust in Jose Valverde?
This is an excellent matchup between two veteran, strong managers. I have a lot of respect for Bruce Bochy. You can tell his players played extremely hard for him down the stretch. Jim Leyland, you always look up and the Tigers are right there at the end of the year. I'm looking forward to seeing the strategy play out.
Edge: Call me Switzerland — it's a push.
Tigers in six games — because they get Verlander to pitch twice and have the first triple crown winner since 1967.