The SF Giants are quietly sneaking into the playoff picture

San Francisco Giants v Colorado Rockies
San Francisco Giants v Colorado Rockies / Matthew Stockman/GettyImages

After a rough start to the year, the SF Giants have played a solid stretch of games. This includes a three-game sweep against the Colorado Rockies on the road, which included two comeback victories. At 32-31, they have snuck into the playoff picture.

The SF Giants are quietly sneaking into the playoff picture

They currently sit 1.5 games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates (33-29) for the third and final Wild Card Spot. The Miami Marlins (35-29) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (36-28) are ahead of the Pirates in the Wild Card standings.

I cannot say that I would have envisioned any of these three teams being in the Wild Card picture when the season began. The Dodgers have had a hold on the NL West over the past decade and the Marlins as well as the Pirates are off to good starts after some lean seasons.

Would I expect either Pittsburgh or Miami to sustain their performances? The Pirates play in an unusually weak NL Central. Plus, they have some good bats along with Mitch Keller atop the starting rotation. The bullpen is the team's strength as David Bednar leads the way with a 1.13 ERA and 13 saves.

This is the type of team that can be tough to beat. On paper, they may not look like a playoff team, but they do well at holding the lead when they get it.

On the other hand, the Marlins have a similar roster construction. They are light on top-end talent, aside from Sandy Alcantara, who is off to a rough start in 2023. However, they have a good bullpen and have posted an exceptional 16-4 in one-run games. The bullpen is a factor in this but it is likely due to regress at some point.

The teams behind the Giants include the New York Mets (30-34), Philadelphia Phillies (31-32), and the San Diego Padres (30-33). All three teams reached the playoffs last year with the Phillies making it to the World Series only to lose to the Houston Astros.

Similar to the Marlins and Pirates being ahead of the Giants, I have a hard time believing that at least one of the Padres, Phillies, or Mets will not make it to the playoffs. The unexpectedly rough starts have exposed certain roster flaws with each team like the Phillies having a surprisingly below-average rotation.

Pitching deep into the playoffs can have lingering effects into the following year and Philadelphia is experiencing it. A poor rotation is not something teams can generally fix during the season, but marginal improvements can be made.

The Giants' sweep against the Rockies earlier this week did not just set them one game above above .500, but it revealed an identity in terms of winning. This is a team that can beat you multiple ways, including with starting pitching and a long lineup that grinds out at-bats.

The season is still young, but it is nearly 40 percent complete and it feels like the Giants will be in playoff mix. Not only because they have a roster with quality components, but because some teams that expected to be in the mix are off to slow starts.