Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The San Francisco Giants got something of a rude awakening in their weekend series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. After winning the first game 9-0, the Giants got a nice reminder of just how tough the Dodgers are when Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw are pitching.
Despite losing that series and losing another game the following day, the Giants are still very much alive in the race for the National League West Championship.
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The Wild Card standings, however, still look very good for the Giants.
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With so little time left, let’s take a deeper look at what the San Francisco Giants and the teams they’re battling with have in front of them for the rest of the season.
San Francisco Giants
Remaining Series: 3 at San Diego, 3 at Los Angeles Dodgers, 4 vs. San Diego
- The division is still a long shot. But the schedule should set up well for the Giants to wrap the top Wild Card spot up in enough time to set things up for the postseason. That means that Madison Bumgarner should be available to pitch in the Wild Card game.
- Jake Peavy is 6-4 with a 2.16 ERA since joining the Giants. AT&T Park and the National League in general seems to suit him well.
- The Giants probably aren’t as deep offensively as they were in 2012 and the pitching isn’t as good as it was in 2010. That means that to go on a long playoff run, they’ll need a hot Buster Posey. Right now, they’ve got one.
- The injuries to Mike Morse and Angel Pagan are troubling. They’ve both battled injuries throughout the year and while Pagan’s seems to be minor, you always hold your breath with guys like that.
- Tim Hudson is apparently dealing with an injury and he’s just not pitching well right now. If the problem can be fixed, now is the time.
- I said it above but it needs to be repeated. The Dodgers are very tough to beat when either Zack Greinke or Clayton Kershaw are pitching. Kershaw is going today and both are scheduled against the Giants. The division is possible, but it is a tall order.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Remaining Series: 3 at Chicago Cubs, 3 vs. San Francisco, 3 vs. Colorado
- They don’t have to play a playoff series at Coors Field. The same positive goes for the Giants.
- Hanley Ramirez is on fire. Matt Kemp has nearly returned to his 2011 form. Even Yasiel Puig has heated back up. With Dee Gordon wreaking havoc on the bases, this is a very dangerous offense.
- For the third time, the Dodgers are very tough to beat with Greinke and Kershaw pitching. When someone else is going, however, they’re far from world-beaters, especially with the possible Hyun-jin Ryu injury.
- The Cubs are playing tough right now. The Dodgers have Kershaw pitching on Friday, but a slumping Roberto Hernandez on Saturday and a possible bullpen game on Sunday. If the Giants can handle their business against the Padres, it’s very possible that the NL West will be closer by the time next week’s series starts.
Remaining Series: 3 vs. Milwaukee, 4 at Atlanta, 3 at Cincinnati
- Things are shaping up very well for Pittsburgh. Even if they don’t catch the Cardinals for the division or the Giants for the top Wild Card spot, the Brewers and Braves are putting very little heat on them. Now, both of those teams will get to face the Pirates head-on-head, but the way the teams are playing now, there’s little reason to think either will do enough to chase the Pirates down.
- The Pirates are generally a team that wins with pitching. But over the last week, most of their offense has been red hot. If they have people getting on base for Andrew McCutchen, this team does a pretty good job resembling the 2012 Giants.
- With Francisco Liriano, Gerrit Cole, Vance Worley, Jeff Locke, and Edinson Volquez, the Pirates have a deep rotation. What they’re missing is a reliable ace to throw against the likes of Madison Bumgarner, Adam Wainwright, Stephen Strasburg, or Clayton Kershaw. That’s not to say that they couldn’t win the Wild Card game, but they’ll likely be the road team there and if they win, won’t have home field advantage in any series after. If you don’t have that ace that can reliably win on the road, the chances of a championship run are not great.
Remaining Series: 3 at Pittsburgh, 3 at Cincinnati, 3 vs. Chicago Cubs
- Jonathan Lucroy is heating up at the right time. While his 0-for-6 on Thursday wouldn’t back this up, so is Carlos Gomez. This team can’t afford any hiccups for the rest of the season, so they need their big guns to be on top of their games.
- The 3.5 game deficit is daunting, but they at least get three games against the team they’re chasing, the Pirates. The Brewers are 11-5 against the Pirates this season, so things could be worse.
- Realistically, anything other than a sweep ends Milwaukee’s playoff chances. As you can see, a sweep wouldn’t even be good enough to put them in a playoff spot. Winning two of three is nice, but it only picks up one game, and that just won’t do with only a week remaining.
Remaining Series: 3 vs. New York Mets, 4 vs. Pittsburgh, 3 at Philadelphia
- The Braves don’t control their own destiny, but their situation is about as good as it could be for a team six games back with this little time remaining. If they win against the Mets, Atlanta will pick up ground on the Brewers or Pirates, who play each other. The series against Philadelphia isn’t exactly daunting, either. In between, they’ll get a chance to pick up some ground on the Pirates. Don’t expect to see them in October, but the door is slightly cracked.
- Emphasis on slightly cracked. The Brewers-Pirates series is a double-edged sword for the Braves, as one of those teams will at worst hold serve with Atlanta each day. A few weeks ago, that series would have been an undeniable good thing. With only barely over a week remaining and the elimination number so low, a series where one of the teams you’re chasing is guaranteed to win games is a mixed bag, at best.