With three quarters of the Major League Baseball season in the books, only one of the two Bay Area teams is still in contention for the playoffs this year, and their season is hanging by a thread. Trailing the Los Angeles Dodgers by two and a half games, the San Francisco Giants will have to catch them and win the National League West Division if they want to be one of the ten teams playing for the World Series title.
Sitting at a record of 66-59 with 37 games to play, the G-Men are in the midst of the toughest stretch of their season. They have recorded a weak 10-13 mark so far this month, dropping six of their last eight to the three-headed monster making up the NL Central — the Cubs, Cardinals and Pirates.
The Giants squad still might make the playoffs, as it seems the Dodgers are trying to hand them the division. As of the last few weeks, it seems every time the Dodgers lose, the Giants lose. The good news for the Giants is they seem to have the Dodgers’ number when the two collide.
According to Eric Stephen of truebluela.com, “The Giants have won 9 of 12 meetings with the Dodgers this season.” While they have taken care of business when it comes to the Dodgers, the Giants’ next five games are against the Cubs and the Cardinals, whom they have not fared well against lately.
Earlier this month, the Giants got a dose of the Cardinals’ pitching staff, which is setting all sorts of franchise records this season. They also visited the not-so friendly confines of Wrigley Field in August where they got swept in the four-game series as rookies Kyle Schwarber and Kris Bryant lit up the stands with towering homeruns.
For the Giants to make the playoffs, they need to get three of their best position players back healthy and playing well. According to montereyherald.com, Joe Panik, the Giants’ All-Star second baseman, “has been ruled out until after the team heads to Southern California to play the Dodgers next Monday through Wednesday.”
Angel Pagan, the Giants’ best option in centerfield when clicking, is striding though a rehab assignment in Triple-A Fresno. Yesterday he had a few hits in the Minor-League game, and it should be no time before he is back at AT&T taking at-bats. But the Giants are going to need him to play as he did in previous years if they want to be locked down in the outfield, and this season his defense and hitting have declined.
The last key player the Giants are going to need soon if they want to pass the Dodgers and win the West, is outfielder Hunter Pence. He is the leader and soul of this team and when he comes back, the lineup will work the way it’s supposed to. Some of the pressure will be taken off Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt in the middle of the lineup, and right now it looks like they need his presence.
In the 2010, 2012 and 2014 seasons when the Giants won it all, they had better pitching from top to bottom. After Madison Bumgarner, the Giants’ pitching staff is suspect. Sabean and the front office of the Giants have, and will try everything to find the right mix of pitchers to keep the team afloat.
If the Giants want to make a run at the playoffs, they will have to go about it in a different way than they have been doing. They will have to turn on the offense and score five a game, which is possible if everyone comes back healthy and performs well enough, to win the division.
But even if they claw their way into the postseason, the Giants have too many question marks to make it out of the National League to win another World Series.