Hey, it could be worse. You could be rooting for the Mets. You could be rooting for a team with twelve players on the disabled list, seven of which are out for the remainder of the season. That’s seven more overall and two more in that specific “out for the remainder of the season” category than the Giants, even if the Giants’ list contains their starting catcher and second-best hitter, rotation ace, two quality supporting players, and Jeff Samardzija.
You could be rooting for a team with bad owners who consistently make poor decisions that cosmetically, culturally, and fundamentally alter franchise history. Instead, you’ve got a team that’s willing to spend money and admit when it makes mistakes. You could also root for a team that doesn’t have tickets for sale on StubHub starting as low as $6 for every game of this series.
But it’s not all about StubHub — although $6 (before taxes and fees) is a great price for what’s become an expensive sport to see in person — it’s also about legacy. The Giants are celebrating 60 years of their San Francisco history. The Mets have had eight winning seasons in the 21st century. The Giants’ recent run of collapse, failure, and bad baseball hurts because of the recent run of success, good fortune, and Buster Posey. The Mets have it worse because they’re always compared to the Yankees and the New York belief (I surmise) that if you’re not winning, you’re dying. The Mets’ despair is both abstract and physical. You never want despair to be literal and figurative.
Beyond their mutual pain, they just played each other four times in games that were silly, frustrating, excruciating, and surprising. Despite a 59-74 record and worse pitching (save Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Zack Wheeler), the Mets do have a better overall offense than the Giants and a 20-14 record at AT&T Park since 2008, including a 3-game sweep last June.
Now, before you chime in with a Bryan, you worthless piece of garbage, that 2017 team is nothing like this 2018 Giants team (Idiot! #IMissGrant)!!! I’d like to point out something highly esteemed/loathed commenter and definitely not my sock puppet account DiaDeLosSlapsy mentioned in this morning’s BP post:
2017 Giants: 7.6 % BB/ 19.6 % K, .132 ISO, .249/.309/.380, 83 wRC+
2018 Giants: 7.7 % BB/ 23.0 % K, .133 ISO, .244/.307/.377, 86 wRC+
So, in several ways, this year’s team is a lot like last year’s. Of course, the pitching is remarkably better — and so’s the record! Through 135 games last season, the Giants record stood at 53-82 with a team 4.51 ERA and 4.18 FIP. Through 135 games this season, they’re 67-68 and sport a team ERA of 3.83 ERA and 3.94 FIP.
The only thing the Giants learned a week ago against this team is that their offense isn’t capable of scoring against the Mets’ (or any other team’s) pitching, so they’ll have to beat ‘em by keeping ‘em off the board.
The Mets’ captain, the ailing David Wright, will be in San Francisco this weekend and appears to be preparing to make perhaps his final comeback attempt when rosters expand on September 1st. SB Nation’s Amazin’ Avenue speculates that he’s training with the team and their medical staff on the road so that he can make a proper return on September 7th, when the Mets finally return home. David Wright has missed two full calendar years and nearly two full seasons of Major League Baseball, but he’s their Buster Posey.
The bigger part of this series is not the slap fight between two weird franchises that go about their business in their own special ways, it’s that nearly half the National League will be scrutinizing this series and the next. The Giants took two out of three from the Diamondbacks, which helped the Dodgers and Rockies, but if the Giants somehow sweep the Mets, there’s a nonzero chance that they tighten up the Wild Card race.
But what if the Mets sweep the Giants and ride that momentum into LA and sweep the Dodgers? Now we’re cooking. The Mets are not pivotal to the September playoff race, but the Giants very well could be.
Hitter to watch
Todd Frazier has a career OPS of over 1.000 against two teams: the Rangers (14 games; 1.192 in 56 PA) and the Giants (33 games; 1.056 in 127 PA). In 14 games at AT&T Park, that number holds up as a 1.018 in 62 plate appearances.
However! Despite a career platoon advantage against left-handed pitchers (he’ll face Andrew Suarez and Derek Holland in consecutive days), he’s hitting .170 / .253 / .295 against them in 99 plate appearances this season, which means he’s either due to hurt the Giants the most or due to be done in when it’ll hurt the Mets the most. You’ll just have to watch.
Pitcher to watch
Zack Wheeler has only four double-digit strikeout games in his career (three 10s and one 12), and his most recent was his start against the Giants on August 20th. It was also his sole double-digit strikeout game of the season. The Giants will counter him this time around with a significantly worse lineup than the one he faced before (no Duggar, no Posey). If he has a dominant start or has any stretch of dominance (strikes out the side in the first or the fourth innings), he’ll provide plenty of fuel to consume the San Francisco sports talk radio airwaves all season long. Given that our own Carmen Kiew hosts San Francisco sports talk radio, this match up could very well affect her literal working environment.
The Giants will win 2 out of 3 somehow and neither a Giant nor Met will leave any game with a season-ending injury.