Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Another week is in the books and the San Francisco Giants still seem unable to get on track and go on a prolonged winning streak. Still, even with the inconsistency of the Giants, they are far from out of the race for the postseason.
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Those are the standings we should maybe start to pay more attention to, as the Dodgers are starting to create some separation within the division.
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Because of that, we start with L.A. again.
First Place: Los Angeles Dodgers
Upcoming Series: 3 vs. Milwaukee, 3 vs. San Diego, 3 vs. New York Mets
- The Dodgers haven’t quite put the Giants away, but they’re not far from it. To blow a lead like the one the Dodgers have, you need to go on a prolonged losing streak. With Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, that’s hard to do. It’s not the first time I’ve made that point, nor will it be the last. That’s a huge edge for the Dodgers.
- They had a few tough series recently, but played fine. Losing two of three to the Brewers in Milwaukee is not a huge problem, especially when it’s followed by winning three of four in Atlanta.
- The possible injury to Hyun-jin Ryu puts the rotation in a bit of a hole. Remember, Josh Beckett is already out for the year, so they aren’t that far from having to depend a lot on Roberto Hernandez, Kevin Correia, and Dan Haren. Now, my gut tells me that they’ll still make the playoffs, but this team wasn’t built to just win the NL West.
- The injury doesn’t seem serious, but Hanley Ramirez is something to monitor. He has injuries in his past so Don Mattingly will have to be careful with Hanley when he gets off of the DL.
Second Place: San Francisco Giants
Upcoming Series: 3 vs. Philadelphia, 3 at Chicago Cubs, 3 at Washington
- The Giants continue to lose games, but not much ground in the Wild Card race. Heck, they’re only a Dodgers drought away from being back in the division race, though they need to make up ground quickly for that to be realistic. The Cardinals and Pirates play six more games against each other, so San Francisco does a chance to make up ground.
- The Giants have gotten virtually no production from the second base position this year. I’m not ready to call Joe Panik the next Jeff Kent or anything, but he’s at least providing the Giants with stability at the keystone.
- The return of Angel Pagan hasn’t quite given the Giants the boost they thought they’d get. Now, Pagan has hit safely in every game since returning and is hitting just below .300, so he’s not the problem but in a way, that’s worse. If he was slumping, it would be easier to think that the team would turn around once he starts hitting. But Pagan’s not going to hit much better than this and the team is still losing.
- The NL West race isn’t over yet, but consider this. The Giants are 5.5 games behind the Dodgers, and only 6 games in front of the Padres. Never a good sign in a race that’s been universally seen as a two-team battle for pretty much the entire season.
- I few weeks ago, I broke the Giants numbers down and came to the conclusion that the Giants needed 88 wins to make the playoffs and the best way to get that was to go 20-10 against the teams with losing records and 8-13 against the teams with winning records. Since then, they’re 2-1 against the bad (right on pace), but 1-5 against the good (well under pace). The NL West heavy schedule down the stretch benefits them, but they need to play better against the good teams. Conversely, they can’t slack off a bit against the bad ones, putting a lot of pressure on them for the upcoming series against Philly and Chicago.
- Tim Lincecum has only notched one quality start in his last four outings. One of the Giants bright spots this year has been the reinvention of Timmy. He needs to return to his June-July form, and quickly.
Third Place: San Diego Padres
Upcoming Series: 3 at St. Louis, 3 at Los Angeles Dodgers, 3 at Arizona
- Rymer Liriano is up and showing the Padres some power, something they haven’t had in that lineup for a while. With their pitching, San Diego may not need a ton of offense to win some games.
- This seems to be an annual conversation with the Padres, but it’s worth mentioning. They are finishing the year strong and while it’s not likely to lead them to anything in 2014, the 2015 season is looking more and more promising.
- I don’t mean to completely diminish the Padres hot streak, as they’ve done well against good teams. Still, they’ve also beaten up on teams like the Twins and Padres. The next several games will go a long way in showing whether this team is a big spoiler in 2014 with possible bigger sights in 2015, or just one of the best bad teams in the league.
Fourth Place: Arizona Diamondbacks
Upcoming Series: 3 at Miami, 4 at Washington, 3 vs. San Diego
- Paul Goldschmidt is out for the year, but guys like Ender Inciarte, Mark Trumbo, and Miguel Montero are showing signs that this could be a tough offense once Goldy returns in 2015.
- The pitching staff needs an overhaul. Even if we assume that Patrick Corbin will come back strong, the rotation is a big question outside of Corbin, Wade Miley, and Chase Anderson. Even those guys will all probably need to pitch a notch or two above where they should. Also, I can’t imagine they have much confidence in Addison Reed. Even if he is the closer in 2015, they should be looking for an upgrade.
Fifth Place: Colorado Rockies
Upcoming Series: 3 vs. Cincinnati, 2 vs. Kansas City, 3 vs. Miami
- Justin Morneau seems to like hitting in Colorado. Imagine that. Barring a trade, he’ll be back next year.
- Nolan Arenado had been struggling after returning from his injury, but he’s starting to put some offense together.
- Troy Tulowitzki is out for the year. Carlos Gonzalez may very well be headed down the same road. This hurts well beyond 2014. The Rockies are going to enter 2015 with one of two scenarios. Either Tulo and/or Cargo will be gone, or the season will start with two franchise players that can never stay healthy. The end of 2015 is a long way out, but it’s very hard to see them avoiding another year in the cellar.