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Things look a little better for the San Francisco Giants than they did last week. Mind you, they still don’t look especially great, especially if you’re thinking about winning the division. Still, the Giants have enough games left against the bad teams to make the playoffs, as long as they continue to handle business there.
As far as the division goes, things are still looking pretty good for those that bleed Dodger blue.
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As a result, we start with the boys in blue again.
First Place: Los Angeles Dodgers
Upcoming Series: 3 at Milwaukee, 4 at Atlanta, 3 vs. Milwaukee
- We’ll have to see if this changes now that the Giants are relatively healthy, but the numbers are really favoring the Dodgers at this point. If the Dodgers get through this stretch in first place, the Giants will realistically need to dominate the head-to-head battle — likely to a tune of 5-1 or 6-0 — to have any realistic chance in the division race. The numbers favor the Giants to get a Wild Card, as playing a nearly exclusive divisional schedule in September should inflate the W-L record. That’s an edge the Giants have over the teams in the NL East and Central, but the Dodgers get all of the same perks. With a pitching rotation led by Clayton Kershaw, they’re just not going to lose enough meaningful games to bad teams. So, these upcoming 10 games will tell us a lot.
- What a great series they had against the Angels, taking three-of-four, the last three in a row, and both games in Anaheim. The Angels would be leading any other division in baseball, so the Dodgers handling them bodes well for the next 10. It may not be fun to read, but it’s really hard to rationally argue with.
- Not much to really draw from here without being nit-picky. But, a few things do catch the eye.
- Adrian Gonzalez is not hitting anywhere near enough from them. Not on a consistent basis. That’s really the only left-handed regular in the heart of the order, so the Dodgers need him to start driving the ball again.
- On the surface, 3.5 games looks pretty nice, and it is. But if the Dodgers do begin to stumble a little bit, the Giants have a schedule that will allow them to run the Dodgers down. Again, it may not be that likely at this point, but if you’re a Giants fan looking for hope or a Dodgers fan looking for reasons to be pessimistic, that’s what you’re really looking at right now.
Second Place: San Francisco Giants
Upcoming Series: 3 at Kansas City, 2 vs. Chicago White Sox, 3 vs. Philadelphia
- I won’t go in depth because it’s already been said a few times, but the NL West schedule should get them to the postseason.
- Welcome back, Angel Pagan!
- The schedule really sets up well for the Giants here. Actually, it sets up so well that I really wonder why Bruce Bochy threw a JV lineup at the Brewers on Tuesday. Normally that wouldn’t bother me and I do concede that Bochy knows his guys better than I do. Having said that…with three games in an American League Park with the DH looming, did Buster Posey really need a full day off, especially with an off day on Monday and Thursday next week? Again, if he was tired, he was tired. But as frustrating as it was, what’s done is done. Looking forward, this is a great week for the regulars to rest up and get fresh for the final stretch.
- As we went over with the Dodgers, this is really their last tough stretch in the season so the Giants need to at least close some ground. On that note, this upcoming schedule works out really well for them to do that. What the Dodgers do is out of their hands, but the Giants should do quite well. Time will tell.
- It’s not much of a sample size, but between the two games in Oakland and the two games in Chicago against the White Sox, the Giants have as many wins against American League opponents in AL Parks as your local Little League team does. That makes me nervous for the Royals series, and also the Tigers series down the road. Granted, they’ve done very well at home against the AL teams, but the above two games against the White Sox are the last two of those we’ll see.
- Jake Peavy hasn’t been bad by any means, but he doesn’t seem to have much beyond 5-6 innings. Unless this is just a bad coincidence, the bullpen will need to be well rested in his starts and given his place in the rotation, that’s not that likely to happen.
Third Place: San Diego Padres
Upcoming Series: 3 at Pittsburgh, 3 vs. Colorado, 4 at St. Louis
- This pitching staff is not just good for a bad team. They’re good for any team. Because of that, they’re just not that likely to drop the number of games they’d need to drop to fall out of third place. How much does finishing a (likely) distant third mean? Your call, but if I’m a Padres fan, I’m a lot more excited about the rest of 2014 than I am if I’m in Arizona or Colorado.
- I don’t think they’ll fall out of third place, but I don’t think the Pirates or Cardinals series will go that well for San Diego. If you’re a Giants fan, that’s doubly bad, as both of those teams are potential Wild Card foes.
- Eric Stults has a legitimate chance to lose 20 games this year. Say what you want about wins and losses and who’s to credit/blame for them. But if you have a pitcher lose anywhere near 20 games, it doesn’t say much about your team.
Fourth Place: Arizona Diamondbacks
Upcoming Series: 3 vs. Colorado, 2 at Cleveland, 4 at Miami
- I can’t imagine Kirk Gibson comes back after this year. It’s hard to call that a “good thing” as a fired manager generally means a bad season has happened. Having said that, this guy seems completely overmatched and stuck in a different era.
- I hate that Paul Goldschmidt is out for the year. I hate that they think that that injury makes throwing at Andrew McCutchen okay. Because, one of the best players being knocked out isn’t bad enough. I hate that they thought it was okay to blatantly throw at Ryan Braun when the Brewers were in town. This seems to come up every year. Hitting a batter is one thing, pitches do get away from pitchers. Intentionally hurling a ball 95 miles per hour at someone is another thing. That can hurt someone. Heck, that can kill someone. Nothing Tony La Russa said even remotely changes my mind on that. Every year, it seems as though a team is at the center. Last year it was the Red Sox, specifically Ryan Dempster throwing at Alex Rodriguez four times in one at-bat. This year — at least right now — it’s Arizona. The only difference? Arizona is not going to have a pennant race and World Series to help people forget.
Fifth Place: Colorado Rockies
Upcoming Series: 3 at Arizona, 3 at San Diego, 4 vs. Cincinnati
- Troy Tulowitzki may be out, but Carlos Gonzalez avoided the DL. Not only that, but he had a great game on Wednesday, perhaps providing some hope that one of the most talented players in the game is back.
- Tulo didn’t demand a trade this week, but it seems as though if nothing else, there is a great divide between him and management.
- This applies to all of the bottom three teams (and even, to a far lesser extent, the Giants), but the Rockies are going to be really damaged in terms of interest by the upcoming season. Now, the Giants have always had good support once football season starts, especially in bad years. The Padres and Diamondbacks both compete with football teams, but not quite like the Rockies do with the Broncos in Denver. What does that mean in terms of what their final record will be? Probably not much. But as a person who’s been there several times, I’ll say that Coors Field should be one of the best experiences in baseball. I don’t imagine that being anywhere near true for the last two months of the season. It’s too bad.