Giants making the right decision to start Jonathan Sanchez in Game 2

San Francisco Giants pitcher Jonathan Sanchez delivers a pitch to the Atlanta Braves in Game 3 of their MLB National League Division Series baseball playoff game in Atlanta, Georgia October 10, 2010.  REUTERS/Tami Chappell (UNITED STATESSPORT - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Every manager would love to have the problem Bruce Bochy currently has. He has to set his rotation for the NLCS (which starts this Saturday in Philadelphia) and even though Matt Cain is arguably the Giants’ second best pitcher, he won’t be starting in Game 2.

That responsibility falls on Jonathan Sanchez, one of two lefties San Francisco will throw at the Phillies’ struggling lineup in the best-of-seven-game series. (Rookie Madison Bumgarner is the other.) Sanchez will get the nod over Cain because Bochy prefers to go righty (Tim Lincecum), lefty (Sanchez), righty (Cain), lefty (Bumgarner), when laying out his rotation.

It’s the right move given the Phillies’ lineup and the ballpark they play in. Chase Utley is a left-handed hitter, as is Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez. All three of them can hit for power and given the Little League stadium that they play in, they can do some damage against a hard-throwing pitcher like Cain who relies on his fastball.

But Sanchez’s go-to pitch is his slider, which is much harder to hit out of the ballpark than a fastball. In other words, he’s the better pitcher to throw at Citizens Bank Park (where Game 2 will be played) and considering he took a no-hitter into the sixth inning against the Braves in Atlanta on Sunday, he obviously doesn’t have any qualms about pitching on the road in a pressure situation. (Although that certainly wasn’t the case earlier in his career when he was an emotional roller coaster in every start.)

The Giants have a huge mountain to climb if they want to reach the World Series. The Phillies have the best collection of talent of all of the remaining teams and their pitching staff is expected to put the clamps down on San Fran’s offense, just as the Braves’ starters were able to do in the NLDS. That means the Giants’ spectacular pitching staff will have to be even more spectacular (maybe even perfect) if this club hopes to move on.

But Bochy can only put his players in the best position to win and then trust that they’ll execute. There’s a possibility that Sanchez could get destroyed in Philadelphia and then Cain blows it in Game 3. However, in setting his rotation the way he is, he’s arguably giving the Giants their best chance to win. Now they just have to go out and execute.

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