The Giants are still struggling, but the NL West picture doesn’t look bad. More of the same in San Francisco. Photo Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Another week down and still, the San Francisco Giants don’t look very good. Even with that, the NL West standings don’t exactly paint an ugly picture.
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Things could be worse. But, for the second week in a row, we start with the boys in blue.
First Place: Los Angeles Dodgers
Upcoming Games: 3 vs. San Diego
- Clayton Kershaw.
- The heart of the order has struggled with inconsistency, but Dee Gordon is starting to get on base a lot again. When a guy like that gets on base, he changes the game.
- The health of Hanley Ramirez is an issue but when he’s getting more and more consistent when in the lineup.
- Josh Beckett had to be placed on the DL. He’s been pitching very well for the Dodgers but has spent a lot of time on the DL over the last few seasons.
- The series in Detroit had to be discouraging. That’s a benchmark series and a potential World Series preview. Now, it could be that the Tigers are just the top team in the league. It could just be some combo of a great two games for the Tigers and a bad two games for the Dodgers, which happens. But they dropped three of four to the Tigers this year, which isn’t great for their frame of mind if they meet in October.
- The Giants can’t get anything going. Any time it looks like a corner may have been turned, they take another step back. Still, the Dodgers have been unable to create any significant separation in the West. They’ve obviously closed the 9.5 game lead but since then, have really been in a holding pattern. Now, if the Giants keep playing this way, the Dodgers will cruise to the division title. But if the Giants do return to their April/May form (or come reasonably close to it), Los Angeles is in potential trouble.
Second Place: San Francisco Giants
Upcoming Games: 3 vs. Arizona
- The return of Marco Scutaro seems imminent, which would mean that the Giants would only need to get Angel Pagan back to get their World Series lineup of Pagan/Scutaro/Pablo Sandoval/Buster Posey/Hunter Pence/Brandon Belt/Gregor Blanco/Brandon Crawford back, with the only exception being Michael Morse instead of Blanco, though not necessarily in that order. How all of those players skills compare to what they were in 2012 is another question, but that general group has had a lot of success. When the Giants have struggled over the last two seasons, it’s mostly been with a player or two on the shelf.
- I want to be very clear that I’m not happy that any players got hurt. But at this point, the Giants need to focus on not only the Dodgers, but also the teams that they may be battling for a Wild Card spot with. The injuries to Yadier Molina (Cardinals) and Brandon Phillips (Reds) do weaken those two teams.
- The Giants still seem like a hot mess, but look at the standings. They are still well within range and any Giants fan would have had a hard time rejecting this at the beginning of the year.
- They are horribly inconsistent. The pitching is generally not bad, but they do seem to have one bad inning per game and with a struggling offense, that can’t happen.
- I really don’t care about the bragging rights that come from the Bay Bridge Series. The A’s and their fans can keep those. But the A’s are one of the best teams in the game, if not the best. As was the case with the Dodgers vs. the Tigers, you always use series like this to see how you stack up to those types of teams. After these four games, it’s pretty obvious that the Giants have a ways to go.
- Going off of the first “Good” note, the Giants are relying a lot on guys coming off of injuries. First it was Belt. Next it’s going to be Marco Scutaro, followed by Angel Pagan. Players usually take a little time to return to top form.
Third Place: San Diego Padres
Upcoming Games: 3 at Los Angeles Dodgers
- Chase Headley ended Kershaw’s consecutive scoreless innings streak. Now, a solo home run may not seem like much, but Kershaw had been at top form, even for his lofty standards. Headley is a guy that might get traded so when other teams see stuff like that, you never know how much it might bump his value up.
- The rest of the National League should be thankful that the Padres aren’t in playoff contention. This pitching staff is very good and I promise you, they wouldn’t be a fun match-up for anyone in October.
- Headley’s HR aside, this offense is bad. They are dead last in nearly every significant offensive category (old stats, new stats, take your pick) and generally, dead last by a wide margin.
- They won the last game of a series against Arizona, the first in a series against the Giants. In between, they swept the Reds three straight. A five-game winning streak is good, but they’ve lost five of six since. In terms of playoff contention, it means very little, as even the winning streak didn’t get them close. Having said that, following an impressive winning streak with an equally impressive losing streak can’t exactly make their fans excited for the second half.
Fourth Place: Colorado Rockies
Upcoming Games: 3 vs. Minnesota
- Justin Morneau didn’t win the final vote, but teammate Troy Tulowitzki found a way to get him to Minnesota by naming Morneau to the Home Run Derby roster. That may not seem like much, but it will give Morneau at least one chance to get a great ovation from the Minnesota crowd, which is well deserved.
- While we’re on the subject of Morneau and Tulo, both are blistering hot.
- Nolan Arenado returned last week and now, Carlos Gonzalez is returning. They may not be playoff contenders, but at least the Rockies and their fans are starting to see most of their regular guys.
- The Jair Jurrjens experiment did not last long. He pitched two games for the Rockies and was sent back to the minors.
- In general, this team is kind of the anti-Padres. Their hitting stats are good but the pitching is ugly. A trip to Coors Field may be a nightmare for opponents worried about taxing their bullpens, but the Rockies own bullpen gets taxed too, making it very hard to sustain winning streaks. It’s the consistent problem that comes with playing at Coors Field, or at altitude in general. In case you haven’t heard that argument any time in the last 20+ years, consider yourself informed.
Fifth Place: Arizona Diamondbacks
Upcoming Games: 3 at San Francisco
- In general, this offense is clicking now. Paul Goldschmidt, Didi Gregorius, Martin Prado, Miguel Montero, and David Peralta are all hot hitters.
- Arizona has struggled with finding consistent pitching all year, so their fans have good reason to be excited by Vidal Nuno‘s first start for the team.
- Wade Miley‘s last two starts have been stellar. This team might have a solid foundation for a good starting rotation when Patrick Corbin returns in 2015.
- They’re close to getting out, but Arizona hasn’t gotten out of the cellar all year. They have a lot of hot players right now, but aren’t getting them hot at the same times enough to win games with any regularity.
- When you consider their standing. Aaron Hill has to be a guy teams are interested in. If that is accurate, his cold streak can’t be helping his value.