The San Francisco Giants are on fire and their upcoming three-game series with the Chicago Cubs will be a good barometer of how they stack up to a top NL contender.
Winners of 16 of their last 20 games, the San Francisco Giants now find themselves with a .500 record and just .25 games back in the NL wild-card race.
Tonight they welcome the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs to town.
The Cubs are hot as well, with a 7-3 record in their last 10 games and a two-game lead in the division standings.
This series could decide if the San Francisco Giants are contenders or pretenders.
The Chicago media is already speculating that if the Cubs can knock the Giants out of contention, they might be able to poach Will Smith or Tony Watson to shore up the need for a quality left-handed reliever in the bullpen.
It’s an intriguing series for a number of reasons.
A case can be made that the last time there was this much excitement was when they were facing this same Cubs team back in 2016 when Conor Gillaspie was getting clutch hits off of Aroldis Chapman and the Giants looked poised to make another improbable October run before the bullpen imploded in Game 4 of the NLDS.
Fast forward three years and the bullpen is now a strength, the Giants are finding ways to win close games, and the young players are contributing.
Monday night’s game pits rookie Shaun Anderson against spot starter Alec Mills. Tuesday’s game has a surging Madison Bumgarner squaring off against Yu Darvish who tossed six scoreless innings in his last start, and the series finale on Wednesday will have standout rookie Tyler Beede facing off against veteran Jon Lester.
If the Giants are going to win this series, they will need their bats to produce more than they did in their most recent series against the New York Mets when the were actually outscored 15-11 and walked away with three extra-inning victories.
That likely won’t cut it against a team like the Cubs.
Even if they don’t recapture the incredible hitting display they showed at Coors Field when they swept the Colorado Rockies, scoring five or more runs at Oracle would certainly increase their chances at winning.
Green enjoyed a productive MLB debut on Sunday with two hits and an RBI. Yastrzemski has been swinging an extremely hot bat lately, going 13-for-34 with three doubles, one triple, and four home runs last week, including a walk-off home run on Sunday.
If Green can keep filling in nicely in Evan Longoria‘s absence, Yastrzemski can stay hot, and the pitching is solid, the San Francisco Giants are more than capable of winning this series.