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San Francisco Giants: Predicting the lineup for Game 162

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Manager Bruce Bochy #15 of the San Francisco Giants looks on from the dugout against the Colorado Rockies in the bottom of the eighth inning at AT&T Park on September 14, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Manager Bruce Bochy #15 of the San Francisco Giants looks on from the dugout against the Colorado Rockies in the bottom of the eighth inning at AT&T Park on September 14, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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San Francisco Giants
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – SEPTEMBER 14: Manager Bruce Bochy #15 of the San Francisco Giants looks on from the dugout against the Colorado Rockies in the bottom of the eighth inning at AT&T Park on September 14, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

We are 19 games into the 2019 season and the San Francisco Giants are in fourth place just 3.5 games behind the rival Los Angeles Dodgers.  Anything can happen with so much baseball left to be played.

Before the season began, many people were ready to count the San Francisco Giants out, fully expecting the team to begin rebuilding rather than pushing toward a playoff run.

Baseball is a grind. Playing for six months with only three or four off days a month can take a lot out of a player. But the great thing about baseball is that you almost always play again the next day.

New team president Farhan Zaidi did not get the impact bat many expected him to target after missing out on Bryce Harper, instead opting to sign a handful of veterans to buy-low minor league deals.

Outfielder Gerardo Parra, starter Drew Pomeranz and relievers Nick Vincent and Trevor Gott have all taken on major roles after joining the team on minor league deals, while Rule 5 pick Travis Bergen is pitching well out of the bullpen.

The pitching staff as a whole ranks fifth in the majors with a 3.10 ERA and the bullpen has been baseball’s best with a 2.51 ERA. It’s been a complete team effort, with the newcomers and incumbent veterans all performing well.

Case in point, Mark Melancon has recorded eight scoreless appearances after a disastrous start to his Giants’ tenure the past two years.

The bullpen is the strength of the team right now, and it could provide Zaidi with a number of valuable trade chips come July if the Giants wind up falling out the race.

But what about the offense?

In short, it’s been a disaster. The Giants are hitting a collective .208/.268/.341 with just 15 home runs in 19 games to rank 26th in the majors in long balls. They’re also averaging just under 3.2 runs per game, which also checks in among the worst in baseball.

When the Giants score at least three runs, they’re 7-4 this year, compared to 1-7 when they score fewer than three runs.

What does all of that mean for the team’s chances of contention in 2019?

At this point, the season could go in either direction. With that in mind, I set out to predict how the team’s lineup might look for Game 162 if they stay in contention and if they fall out of the race.

Let’s start with the hypothetical contender:

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