NLCS Scouting Notes: Game Seven Preview

The Giants have earned their shot at a game seven in just about every way. They've used every inch of their roster to force St. Louis into this position. But, the Cardinals are also a team that has put themselves one win from the World Series on the strength of their well rounded roster. In game seven, however, it may simply boil down to the starting pitchers.

Fastball Aggression Key For Lohse

A question you hear a lot is "how is Kyle Lohse doing this?", and it's a fair question. In the last two years with St. Louis he has blossomed into as steady a performer as you'll find in the National League. To his credit, he's carried that into the post-season. In game seven, however, he's going to be faced with a San Francisco Giants' lineup that is clicking pretty nicely right now.

The way San Francisco has swung the bats the last two games, you have to think Lohse may not be able to dance between the raindrops the way he did his last time out. In that outing, he allowed 12 base runners in under six innings of work. He'll need to look more like the pitcher the dominated the Washington Nationals over seven innings of work two starts ago.

You'll see a lot of hints early on as to what Lohse you'll see. Part of what's made him so good the last two years has been his deep arsenal, but he's at his best when he's comfortable with his fastball command and picking his spots more carefully with his off-speed pitches. We saw Lohse using all his pitches early in his last outing and searching for something he could command consistently. But, when Kyle Lohse can begin the game more aggressively with his fastball and toy with hitters as the game goes on he becomes as difficult to hit as anyone in the league.

Cain Needs Downward Plane

When it comes to throwing a representative outing, Matt Cain rarely disappoints. And, he's also very capable of throwing an absolute gem. San Francisco needs the latter out of him in game seven. Cain's numbers in the playoffs haven't been poor by any stretch of the imagination, but he's also capable of much more.

If you look closer at Cain's last couple playoff outings, you'll see an elite pitcher that's just a hair off his game. His arm is angle is dropping ever so slightly and we're seeing his pitches flatten over the heart of the plate. It's a difference that's particularly noticeable with his slider, but even more so as we see the life on his fastball not as apparent as it typically is.

Cain's velocity, stamina, and command are there. His game seven start will come down to execution of his mechanics. It's a common mantra for pitchers, but he has to keep his arm angle up to keep his offerings sharp.

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