Friday’s Game 1 will start at 3:07 p.m. at Nationals Park and will likely include a fascinating starting pitching match-up. In the first postseason start of his career, Stephen Strasburg could face right-hander Jake Peavy, the pitcher he idolized while he grew up in San Diego and Peavy became a star with the Padres.
Neither team has announced its rotation, but the Nationals are expected to start Strasburg in Game 1 followed by Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister and Gio Gonzalez. The Giants will likely counter with Peavy, longtime Nationals nemesis Tim Hudson, Bumgarner and Yusmeiro Petit.
The Nationals gained an advantage when Bumgarner pitched the wild card game. Bumgarner, the Giants’ clear ace, will only start once in the NLDS. He will almost certainly start Game 3 against Fister, a rematch of Game 2 of the 2012 World Series, a duel Bumgarner’s Giants won, 2-0, over Fister’s Tigers. (Fister beat Bumgarner in a rematch in June.)
The Nationals went 5-2 this season against the Giants, who finished second in the National League West with an 88-74 record. Four of those wins came against Tim Lincecum, Ryan Vogelsong and Matt Cain, three starting pitchers who are unlikely to be in the Giants’ postseason rotation. Including their victory Wednesday, the Giants have gone 52-54 since June 1.
In the dugouts, Bruce Bochy will have the clear advantage in experience over Nationals rookie manager Matt Williams. Bochy, in his 20th season, has gone 8-1 in postseason series, plus Wednesday wild card victory. Williams has never managed in one. Bochy led the Giants to World Series championships in 2010 and 2012, the only two times the Giants have made the playoffs under him.
The teams share several connections. Willliams was drafted by the Giants with the third overall pick in the 1986 draft and played the first 10 years of his career in San Francisco, becoming a staple as a power-hitting, Gold Glove third baseman. Giants outfielder Michael Morse became a fan favorite while with the Nationals from 2009 through 2012, when he was the Nationals’ starting left fielder in the NLDS. Nationals bench players Kevin Frandsen and Nate Schierholtz played for the Giants, with Schierholtz appearing in three games in the 2010 World Series.