It’s been almost three months since anyone other than the Giants led the National League West, but a rising Dodgers club has squeezed San Francisco’s edge at the top of the league while a handful of concerns about the recent game of the Teams could be viewed as red flags.
With 38 games remaining, the Giants are 2.5 games ahead of the Dodgers and will play their final head-to-head series against their rivals on Labor Day weekend at Oracle Park. These games should go a long way in determining the division, which is especially important when you consider that neither club wants their chances of playing well into the postseason, depending on whether they win the wildcard game.
At the beginning of the spring training, most of the Giants fans would have been thrilled that the team could secure a wildcard place. Expectations quickly changed as the Giants raced out the gates and then proved they could challenge the Dodgers and Padres at the top of the division.
Now it has become a clear goal to end the Dodgers’ streak of eight consecutive NL West titles, but there are a few issues the Giants will have to iron out to achieve that goal. Here are the biggest concerns about the team’s performance in the second half.
Logan Webb has been as good as any major league pitcher for the past few months as the right-handed player has only allowed 12 earned runs in his last 12 starts. Webb threw another gem with six innings of a one-run ball in a 2-1 win over the A’s on Sunday, but he can’t do it alone.
As of July 27, the Giants have received eight quality starts from members of their rotation, but six are owned by Webb. Simply put, Kevin Gausman, Anthony DeSclafani, Alex Wood and Johnny Cueto (who will return from the injured list this week in New York) have to be better.
The biggest concerns about Gausman’s feeling for his splinter. The Giants’ ace in the first half was on the All-Star break in the Cy Young Awards contest, but he has an ERA of 5.17 in seven starts in the second half and lost command for his best pitch. Gabe Kapler goes on to say that Gausman is taking steps forward, but the Giants must take those steps much bigger to alleviate their next concern.
The Giants bullpen ranks third in the majors this season with an ERA of 3.14, but since 1
The expression “was sein” appears in place of the word “is”, as the continuation of the current pace will almost certainly require that the team’s starting mugs give the emergency helpers more calm. As of Tuesday, the Giants are playing 16 consecutive games with no day off, which is the kind of schedule that often results in exhausted arms, lost leads, and fan frustration.
The Giants should get at least one reinforcement on September 1st, when the active roster grows from 26 to 28 players, but the team’s two best arms, Tyler Rogers and Jake McGee, are among the top five pitchers in the world National League in appearances.
There will be days when Rogers and McGee are likely to be unavailable, so Kapler will have to rely on Jarlín García, José Álvarez, Dominic Leone and others for more big outs in the late innings of the games.
For more than three quarters of the season, the Giants have proven that a team can win many games with the long ball. The club topped the majors with 187 homers on Tuesday, which is particularly impressive considering the American League teams have an extra batter in their order thanks to the designated hitter.
The Giants couldn’t play a small ball at all this weekend in Oakland, but still secured two late wins thanks to the home runs of LaMonte Wade Jr. and Donovan Solano.
It is clear that home runs are an excellent recipe for success.
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It is possible that the Giants could continue to rely on home runs to win the division, but it would certainly alleviate fan concern if the club proved to be slightly more competent runners, taking home base hits shoot.
With a runner in third place and less than two outs, the Giants’ 0.892 OPS actually rank 10th in the majors in these situations, but their 125 RBIs are 23rd. With runners in the scoring position, their team is ranked -OPS .780, which is in 11th place, but their 369 RBIs in those places are only 16th.
The average and baseline percentage of Giants with runners on the base is right in the middle of the field, while their slug percentage with runners is at a robust .458, which is the third highest mark in the majors.
All of these stats suggest the Giants are actually pretty good at bringing runners up and home, but the eye test, especially in the second half, suggests otherwise.
Should Giants fans be concerned? Probably not, given the decent performance of the team with runners and the ability to hit home runs in any situation. The bigger problems are with the starters digging deeper into the games and giving their best helpers more peace of mind, which is an indication of how well things have gone for San Francisco this year.