The San Francisco Giants didn’t have a great week, but things look about the same at the top of the NL West. The Giants still have a commanding lead and nobody in the division seems capable of putting a consistent run together.
A little deeper, what do things look like for the Giants and their NL West rivals?
Note: All records are current through the games on Thursday, June 12.
First Place: San Francisco Giants
- Record: 43-24 (8.5 games up)
- Last 10: 6-4
- Upcoming: 3 vs. Colorado, 2 at Chicago White Sox, 3 at Arizona
- The Washington Nationals really handed it to the Giants, making them look vulnerable for pretty much the first time all year. Still, compared to last week, the Giants lead over the second place Dodgers is exactly the same, and they’ve actually picked up another game on the third place Rockies. After the Mets series, the Giants were on a 108 win pace, a pace nobody could have thought was realistic. So when something of a slump happens, it’s nice that it didn’t really cost them any of a big lead.
- Though the finale against the Nationals (ironically the one game they won in that series) wouldn’t show it, Buster Posey is definitely coming to life at the plate. The Giants have won this year without great stats from him. When he heats up, the team will get even better.
- It might be minor, but getting two games in an American League Park should be a good thing for the team. If he needs a day off, Posey can DH. Michael Morse or Pablo Sandoval can also DH, making room for a better defensive roster. It’s only two games but once the Arizona series starts, the Giants will have only one off day until the All-Star break. So, getting a day off on both sides of a series and getting the DH for two games will definitely help ensure that the Giants batteries are completely charged for the rest of the first half.
- Getting dominated by Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister, and Tanner Roark is not a good thing. It’s not the end of the world, as these are all great pitchers, but you don’t ever want to see your offense stifled for three consecutive games.
- A thought you never want to have: “Yeah, we’re slumping, but we’ve got some wiggle room.” Yes, it’s absolutely true and if you’re really freaking out about the first three games against Washington, you haven’t been paying attention. But complacency is the last thing you want to see, and it’s most likely to come in after a stretch like this, where the Giants dropped a few games in a row and still didn’t really lose any of their lead.
- It’s becoming more and more clear that a second base upgrade is going to be needed. That’s not to say Brandon Hicks hasn’t done any good or that he won’t come up with a few big hits, but he’s hitting .182 — which has actually bumped his career average up.
Second Place: Los Angeles Dodgers
- Record: 35-33 (8.5 games back)
- Last 10: 5-5
- Upcoming: 3 vs. Arizona, 3 vs. Colorado, 3 at San Diego
- The inconsistent play has made another division title nothing but a glorified pipe dream at this point, but the Dodgers are still only one-half game out of the final Wild Card spot. Better yet, they’re chasing two teams from the NL East that will play each other a lot. When two teams you’re chasing play each other, good things will happen — as long as you win.
- With all due respect to the Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Padres, none of them have winning records. There is no reason that the Dodgers shouldn’t win each of those series, at least putting pressure on the Giants and especially the other Wild Card contenders.
- Clayton Kershaw is officially back. Better yet, the Dodgers are actually starting to consistently win on days he starts, taking advantage of having the best pitcher in the league on the team.
- When play was over on Tuesday, I had an honest sense that a Dodgers run might be coming. Realistically, I think they’re too far back at this point, but I thought it might get interesting. What followed? Los Angeles scored one combined run on Wednesday and Thursday, losing another game to the Dodgers and as we’ve already gone over, bringing us to the exact place we were at last week, only with fewer games remaining.
- “When two teams you’re chasing play each other, good things will happen — as long as you win.” That’s true but if you can’t consistently win, only bad things will happen. Someone you’re chasing will lose every game, but someone will win them too. The Dodgers remain unable to string anything together for more than a game or two and usually winning streaks are immediately followed by losing streaks of similar length.
- On May 21, Adrian Gonzalez belted his 12th home run of the season and third in three games. He hasn’t homered since. Since that date, his power has consisted of five doubles, and five RBI. Nowhere near good enough.
- Hanley Ramirez is hurt. At this point, he’s not on the DL so it doesn’t seem like a serious thing. Still, you never want to see that from anyone, especially someone with his injury history.
Third Place: Colorado Rockies
- Record: 31-35 (11.5 games back)
- Last 10: 3-7
- Upcoming: 3 at San Francisco, 3 at Los Angeles, 3 vs. Milwaukee
- Is Coors Field a tough place to pitch? Someone forgot to tell Tyler Matzek, who was brilliant in his season debut. With Jordan Lyles & Eddie Butler on the 15-Day DL and Brett Anderson & Tyler Chatwood on the 60-Day DL, getting a nice outing from a starting pitcher was very needed.
- If you believe in momentum, the Rockies picked some of it up by beating the Braves in each of the last two games of that four-game series. This is a brutal stretch of games they’re about to hit, so coming into it with a head of steam can’t be a bad thing.
- He’s already having a great season, but Troy Tulowitzki is on fire. With Nolan Arenado, Carlos Gonzalez, and Michael Cuddyer on the DL, they’ll need a hot Tulo. Also, a hot Tulo is a terrifying sight for any opposing pitcher.
- The Rockies need to start winning and to do that, they need to dominate at home. How did their last home stand go? 1-2 vs. the Dodgers, 2-2 vs. the Braves, 3-4 total. At a glance, that’s not terrible but when you look at Colorado’s home/road splits and where they stand, it’s going to be costly.
- If you were counting along above, you already know that seven Rockies currently on the DL. They are entering a very difficult stretch of games and if they’re going to be realistic playoff contenders, they really need to scratch out a 5-4. Going in short-handed is not a good way to start.
- Once a great asset out of the bullpen, Adam Ottavino has hit the skids over the last month and unfortunately, only seems to be getting worse. When you play at Coors Field, the bullpen is essential, so his struggles are really troubling.
Fourth Place: San Diego Padres
- Record: 28-38 (14.5 games back)
- Last 10: 2-8
- Upcoming: 3 at New York Mets, 2 at Seattle/2 vs. Seattle, 3 vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
- Andrew Cashner was sharp in his return from the DL. As one of baseball’s best surprises in 2013, it’s good to see him back healthy and pitching incredibly well,
- As ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick pointed out, Huston Street has been pitching very well this year. Good enough to turn things around? No, they’re too far back and as a closer, he needs to have a lead to make a significant impact. But, any team with bullpen issues will be looking at Street as a possible trade target (he specifically mentioned Baltimore and Detroit). If you’re going to lose a player like that, you want a good haul. That he’s A) Healthy and B) Pitching well will only be good for the Padres.
- It’s very possible that Tyson Ross is the real deal. This team has the foundation for a good pitching staff, if only they can get an offense.
- Outside of Cameron Maybin and Seth Smith, you’d have to be an eternal optimist to find positives in this offense. While those two have been good, they’re not exactly San Diego’s answer to Mike Trout or Andrew McCutchen.
- Arizona isn’t exactly a great team but now that the D-Backs and Padres are head-on-head, I’d consider it a pretty big upset if anyone but San Diego finished 2014 in the NL West cellar.
- In stark contrast to Street, Chase Headley is hurting his trade value with every at-bat. In a contract year, it’s hard to believe he’ll attract anything of value on the trade market.
Fifth Place: Arizona Diamondbacks
- Record: 29-40 (15 games back)
- Last 10: 6-4
- Upcoming: 3 at Los Angeles Dodgers, 4 vs. Milwaukee, 3 vs. San Francisco
- The upcoming stretch of games is brutal, but the Diamondbacks haven’t been an easy out for good teams, as witnessed by them taking two-of-three from Atlanta last weekend.
- Tim Lincecum is scheduled to start for the Giants of the first game of the series against vs. San Francisco. Be sure Paul Goldschmidt is in your fantasy lineups that day.
- Had they won Friday, Arizona would be ahead of San Diego in the standings. They couldn’t quite lock it down, but it seems inevitable. Getting out of the cellar is a big deal.
- It’s not likely to do anything in terms of postseason, but you have to respect a team that doesn’t let a horrendous start define them. The Diamondbacks have consistently chipped away at the rest of the league and if nothing else, that sets a good foundation for 2015.
- It doesn’t seem likely that we’ll see Mark Trumbo before the All-Star break. Realistically, this team isn’t going to contend but if nothing else, baseball fans should want to see Goldschmidt and Trumbo in the same lineup as often as possible. It’s just too entertaining.
- With the exception of Josh Collmenter, Arizona hasn’t gotten consistent starting pitching from anyone this year. Laying a good foundation is great, but even if he comes back completely healthy, Patrick Corbin is not a miracle worker. The rest of the rotation needs to improve.
- After Goldschmidt and Miguel Montero, the offense has been ordinary, at best. Like with the pitching staff, turning a corner and challenging the Giants and Dodgers will take more than a few guys.
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