SF Giants will not be serious playoff contenders if they continue to struggle in surprising area

New York Yankees v San Francisco Giants
New York Yankees v San Francisco Giants / Andy Kuno/San Francisco Giants/GettyImages
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The SF Giants fortified the pitching and defense this winter with several notable moves. However, the pitching staff has been a surprising weakness and will need to improve in the second half if they plan to be serious playoff contenders.

SF Giants will not be serious playoff contenders if they continue to struggle in surprising area

It might be too soon to talk about the playoffs. The Giants have a 36-41 record and have the third-worst winning percentage in the NL. That said, the NL seems to be on the weaker side this year and they are only one winning streak away from being one of the three Wild Card teams. Regardless of the standings at this point, the Giants have not played consistently good baseball yet.

That said, the standings can and will change a lot between now and the end of the season. The Giants have played in 77 games, meaning that 85 games remain. There is a lot of baseball left.

For the Giants, the pitching staff will need to be a strength in the second half. It has been a surprising weakness in the first half. The pitching staff has a 4.45 ERA, which is the sixth-worst mark in baseball. They also have a 3.90 FIP and 3.78 xFIP, so the underlying numbers are a bit more favorable. Unfortunately, they cannot hang their hat on that at the moment.

I did not necessarily expect the bullpen to be a strength, but it has some quality components. Its struggles are a function of limited depth and arguably some questionable in-game management from manager Bob Melvin.

On the other hand, the rotation needs to be what carries the Giants. They have a 4.52 rotation ERA in 2024, which is the seventh-worst mark in baseball. Logan Webb continues to be a workhorse and should be a candidate for the All-Star team in July. Jordan Hicks has been a steady option and Kyle Harrison has had some solid moments as well.

On the other hand, Keaton Winn has been an unreliable rotation arm and Blake Snell has been a colossal disappointment thus far after only making six starts through the first half of the season. It is probably not a good sign that Erik Miller has made as many starts as Snell has this season.

On that same note, it is hard to ignore that the Giants are in the same position they were in last year where they only have two reliable starters and have to patch the rest of the rotation up with the use of openers and bulk-innings relievers.

The Giants hope that the rotation can become a strength in the second half. In some ways, it always felt like the rotation in the first half was tasked with treading water before passing the baton off to the veterans in the second half.

The Giants do expect a trio of veterans to return soon. Robbie Ray has begun a rehab assignment and has advanced to Triple-A. Blake Snell will join Ray in Sacramento and Alex Cobb is not too far away from a rehab assignment according to Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area.

One of the big questions in the first half was how the Giants were going to manage both Jordan Hicks and Kyle Harrison's workload. The return of the veterans will help offload some of that workload to some degree.

The Giants hope and need some combination of Ray, Cobb, and Snell to hit the ground running. If the rotation continues to struggle, it is hard to envision the Giants being a serious playoff contender even in a weak NL. However, those three can really change the dynamic of the pitching staff and turn a weakness into a strength.