Here’s the thing about playing under-.500 teams: It’s not like you’re any less stressed while the games are going on. The Giants start a three-game series against the Padres on Friday, and it’s not like you shouldn’t be scared. Even with the Padres going 0-for-Giants on the year, they still use bats and gloves and baseballs. Those kinds of teams are the most dangerous teams.
That written, Buster Olney reminds us that when it comes to second-half schedules, the Giants have a reasonably fair schedule, with 39 of their final 72 games coming against over-.500 teams, and a 50-50 split between home and away games. Olney ranks the Giants’ second-half schedule as the seventh easiest out of 19 possible contenders.
There are asterisks and caveats to that, though. For one, the Giants have another death-stretch in August for some reason, going from Washington to Miami to home, where they’ll host the Orioles, Pirates, and Mets before leaving for a three-game series in Los Angeles. It’s not as miserable of a schedule as last August, but it’s not great, Bob.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the Dodgers have an easier schedule, with the second-easiest schedule according to Olney. Eric Stephen broke down the difference at True Blue LA, and for the most part, the two teams are playing the same opponents. They’re each playing the Rockies, Padres, and Diamondbacks — no, I’m not making that up, it’s true, wow, NL West action, here we go, alright — but the Dodgers have already gotten their Orioles, Mets, and Pirates games out of the way, whereas the Giants still have theirs coming.
If you use Baseball Prospectus’ expected standings for the rest of the season, the Giants will play four-and-a-half-games worse than the Dodgers. Which, while being far too stressful than it needs to be, works for me. That’s the benefit of a 6½-game lead — it gives them the freedom to play like dunderheads for a stretch. Note that it doesn’t give them the freedom to play like poopyheads. It’s a fine line.
The breakdown of the remaining schedule goes like this:
- 8 three-game series against under-.500 teams
- 8 three-game series against over-.500 teams
- 1 two-game series against an under-.500 team
- 1 two-game series against an over-.500 team
- 1 four-game series against an under-.500 team
- 4 four-game series against an over-.500 team
Let’s make stuff up and give the Giants a series loss against every over-.500 team and a series win against every under-.500 team. We’ll split the two- and four-game series. Seems reasonable, right?
That would lead to a .500 record in the second-half and 93 wins. That might not be enough to win the NL West, though it would probably be enough to win one of the two wild cards. The trick, then, is to mix in some series wins against good teams, while picking their spots to sweep the lousy teams on occasion.
Of course, this will all be mixed in with series lost to lousy teams, with at least a sweep or two going against them. There really isn’t any point to looking at future schedules like this, but I’m 500 words in, and there’s no stopping me now.
If there’s a main point, though, it’s this: It’s doable. They have two more days off in July, and they have three days off in August. They have two more nine-game road trips, left, but they also have 15 of their last 18 games in August at home. As far as schedules go, it’s not a ridiculous one.
The Giants will still need to win their games and avoid playing like bozos, but considering that they have the advantage of a 6½-game lead, the schedule could have been much, much worse.
Like last year. That still bugs me. I think I’ll write another letter to Manfred.