The SF Giants have been on a roll lately, winning eight of their last ten games. However, their next four games against the San Diego Padres will be a test to see if they truly are a postseason team.
While the SF Giants have vaulted themselves into the top wild-card spot in the National League, the Padres have been red-hot as well. Both teams have won eight of their last ten. Something doubly impressive for the Pads, who made a flurry of moves ahead of the August 31st trading deadline that overhauled much of their roster. It is clear that San Diego is trying to win it all this season, which will present a challenge to the Giants.
The Giants have recently been racking up wins against sub-.500 teams, but with the Padres sitting at 28-17, they’ll have to step up their game if they want to win the four-game series in San Diego.
So, do the Giants have what it takes to compete against a new and improved Padres club? The recent offensive output from the team suggests that they definitely could, especially with the team’s timely two-out, oftentimes two-strike hits that have absolutely killed their opposing teams recently.
While the pitching has definitely been a question mark at times this season, Trevor Cahill will take the ball tonight and if he can pitch through his injury he has shown flashes of his old self this season on the mound. Furthermore, the team welcomed back southpaw Drew Smyly from injury on Thursday. Early in the season, Smyly showed plenty of reason for Giants fans to be excited.
The team’s ace, Johnny Cueto, will take the ball on Friday night, and Kevin Gausman will take the ball in game three of the series. Gausman has been incredible as of late, with a lethal fastball-changeup combination that has led to a ton of strikeouts.
And while Logan Webb struggled mightily in his last start, he will take the ball in game four. There’s no denying his stuff. Even with his struggles, he remains the Giants best post-prospect prospect.
Then there is the matter of the bullpen. Recently, the team’s relievers have been very solid. It seems that Gabe Kapler is getting a better feel for the roles of various relievers and while there have been some epic collapses this season, the bullpen has been winning games recently. We saw that on Tuesday against the Mariners.
The team’s defense can still be shaky. There have been a number of misplayed fly balls, defensive struggles for rookie Joey Bart, and some bad throws. However, if something has to be a limitation, you’d rather it be defense than pitching or hitting.
We also know that even if the pitching staff and defense struggles, the lineup is confident enough to come back from deficits. Granted, none of those comebacks have been against a team as good as the Padres.
So, as we all know, the three ingredients that led to three world championships for the Giants were: great pitching, great defense, and timely hitting. Right now, I think we can say the team has good, if somewhat streaky pitching, below-average defense, but a prolific offense that has been coming up in timely spots all season.
It is too early to say whether that combination is enough to make a deep postseason run. However, anything is possible in this wild and crazy year. The next four games against the San Diego Padres will be a fantastic test to see if they’ll be up for the challenge.