The Giants have played enough October baseball over the last four years to run a workshop on postseason resume-building.
The Washington Nationals (96-66) finished the 2014 regular season with the best record in the National League, a 5-2 record over the Giants and a bitter taste in their mouths from a squandered 2012 postseason.
When both teams clash in the NLDS Friday, they’ll have an undeniable common denominator: a prolific capacity to win.
Storylines are diverse and abundant going into Game 1 between the Giants and Nationals, but the headliner is starting pitching.
Strasburg was a spectator in the 2012 postseason to preserve his arm. As a phenom college prospect at San Diego State, he watched Peavy heave jet-fuel fastballs at opponents and expletive-laced tirades toward himself. The two were part-time workout partners as Strasburg matured in San Diego.
Their next chapter features one man in the twilight of his career another in the prime of his.
Hudson painted a masterful first-half picture with a 7-6 with a 2.87 ERA before the All-Star Break. He fell back to Earth with a 2-7 record and 4.73 to finish the regular season.
The crafty vet has faced the Nationals 31 times in his career and fashioned together an 18-5 record and 2.35 ERA. This season has been no different. He’s 2-0 with a 0.73 ERA in 12-2/3 innings pitched.
The guy he’s facing is only coming off a no-hitter in his previous start. Zimmermann pitched once against the Giants this season for eight innings, earning a win.
Bumgarner outdueled Fister that night with seven shutout innings and eight strikeouts. He’ll look to continue his streak of 16-consecutive scoreless postseason innings Monday.
Game 3 will either result in a sweep for either team or a 1-1 tiebreaker. Either way, it’s one for a guy who can go the distance if necessary.
On the offensive side, Pablo Sandoval will be one to watch for the Giants. Sandoval rolls into the series with a .455 (10-for-22) average against the Nationals.
The Nationals’ big bat is Jayson Werth, who has been just as freighting to Giants pitching this year. Werth slugged his way to a .407/.467/.704 slash line with two home runs and 10 RBIs against the club.
Both bullpens matchup almost identically. The Nationals (3.00) and Giants (3.01) are second and third in the National League in bullpen ERA.
San Francisco (46) has one more save than Washington and a slight edge in batting average against (.217 to .242).
It’s also worth noting that the magic number in this series is four.
The Giants have claimed 40 of their last 43 games when plating at least four. They’re 74-13 overall in such games.
Washington is 74-11 when scoring four or more and 22-55 when they don’t.
Manager Bruce Bochy will need to manage his pitching accordingly. He, and Bumgarner, did the Giants bullpen a huge favor by having Bumgarner pitch a complete game. He’ll be able to work with a fresh relieving corp Friday.
This is Bochy’s seventh postseason stint and his third with the Giants. Since moving up the coast to San Francisco, he’s gone 23-9 in postseason play.
His opposite, Matt Williams, is a first-year manager and spent 10 seasons as a player with the Giants.
The NLDS will start Friday in Nationals Park. Game time is 12:07 p.m. PDT on Fox Sports 1.