Here we are at the final home stand of the season. We’ve learned a lot this year. Said some goodbyes. Realized that there will be more goodbyes in the coming weeks and months. And we’ve seen the Giants be completely terrible on their home field. Just, abjectly terrible. They’ve been nearly as bad at home (33-42) as the Rockies have been on the road (27-51).
The Rockies are 67-89 and in danger of winning fewer than 70 games for the fourth time in eight years. Barring a home stand sweep, the Giants will win fewer than 80 games for the third straight year. I’m not asking Nolan Arenado to reconsider the 7-year extension he signed in the offseason, but I’m wondering which franchise has it worse and which team figures to be better in the short-term and long-term.
In the short-term, it certainly seems like the Rockies will have the edge over the Giants. Long-term, and not just because of the new front office, I’d go with the Giants. They have more resources and their taste of dynasty doesn’t just disappear because of a few bad years. Have to figure there will be a drive to get back.
It’s not that the Rockies don’t have the drive to win, but they seem to be stuck in an endless loop of having to figure things out. First it was the pitching, then it was the hitting, and now it’s the pitching again. Are we sure the offense has been straightened out, though?
The Rockies’ 748 total wins this decade is just #27 in MLB, ahead of only the White Sox (739), Padres (739), and Marlins (705), and four fewer than the Orioles (752), a team that’s lost 308 games (and counting) over the past three seasons. Their 322-486 road record is also the worst of the 2010s. The Marlins are just slightly better (326-483).
Before you go rushing to say that the Rockies haven’t struggled on the road against the Giants, consider that they’re just 35-56 at Oracle this decade. Sure, that’s 10% of their road win total, but they’ve won at least 30 games against on the road against all their division rivals. Against the Padres, they were 46-48 at Petco. No, Colorado was more of a pain when both teams were good. Since the Giants ran into a ditch (2017), the Rockies are just 2-5-1 in San Francisco.
One of those two series wins, though, was this past June 24-26. This was also the last time the Rockies won a road series. These three games will be their final road series of 2019. Will the Rockies bookend an 11-series losing streak with a pair of series wins in San Francisco, or will the Giants figure out a way to win their 10th home series of the year?
This is Bruce Bochy’s last stand. Possibly Madison Bumgarner’s. There will be celebrations. There will be energy. None of that will matter once the talent gets on the field, but it’s not like both teams are playing for nothing. By virtue of this series and home stand having significance by way of finality, the Rockies suddenly have a reason to play hard: to ruin the good feelings. In fact, their final three games at home will be against the Brewers, who are fighting to hang on to a Wild Card spot.
This last week can be a real spoiler week for the ol’ Rockies. Or the Giants can do what the majority of teams have done to them over the decade and beat them.
Hitter to watch
His team might’ve collapsed under the weight of their failures, but Nolan Arenado’s September has been sublime. 11 of his 21 hits have been extra base hits (7 HR, 4 2B) in a .356/.465/.780 line (71 PA). Against just the Dodgers, in six games and 18 PA, he went 7-for-17 with a walk, just two strikeouts, and three home runs. He’s extremely close to matching the career-best 133 OPS+ he put up last year (currently at 130). He homered against the Dodgers five times in 18 games this season. Through 16 games against the Giants, he’s homered four times; but, at Oracle this year, he’s hitting just .154/.313/.269 with a homer.
But he’s sort of the obvious choice here, right? And Trevor Story is, too. Story has also had a strong September (.279/.372/.485 in 78 PA), and like Arenado, he hasn’t hit the Giants hard at Oracle (.684 OPS in four games). The Giants always need to watch out for these guys.
The real hitter to watch is Garret Hampson. He’s hitting .357/.410/.589 (.999 OPS) in September (61 PA). He has 20 hits in 18 games, and he really fills out the counting categories: two doubles, a triple, three home runs, five walks, seven stolen bases. He’s 2-for-10 with a double against Madison Bumgarner and 3-for-5 against Jeff Samardzija.
Pitcher to watch
Carlos Estevez throws 100 mph and has either flummoxed the Giants or been hit hard by them. The Giants have scored off of him three of the eight times he’s faced them this season, including four earned runs combined in his last two appearances. But in September, he’s allowed just 1 hit in 9.2 innings while striking out 10 and walking just two.
And yes! He did achieve a reliever no hitter. He struck out Joc Pederson on Saturday to record nine hitless innings. He then gave up a single to Enrique Hernandez.
The Giants sweeping this home stand to end the year 81-81 is plausible, but improbable. The possibility of them going 3-3 to at least tie the franchise record for fewest home wins is plausible and more probable than a 6-0 mark. A 4-2 stand would simply tie their worst home mark at Oracle Park. In any condition, the easiest route to getting three wins is winning at least two games against the Rockies.
Colorado has been swept just three times in this 11-series losing streak. On the year, they’ve scored 805 runs, 9th in MLB and 4th in the NL; so, it’d be tough to sweep them even if the Giants were a better team.
Bumgarner, Samardzija, and Beede do give the Giants their best shot at a sweep, but it all depends on the 1st inning. The Rockies have an .840 OPS in the 1st. The ERA totals for this starting trio would seem to play right into the Rockies’ hands: 5.18, 5.23, 8.14, respectively. Bumgarner has been hit hard in September (5.63 ERA, 1.38 WHIP), Samardzija too (5.32 ERA, 1.29 WHIP), while Beede had three solid starts before the six-run disaster in Atlanta.
They need a sweep, but they’ll get two out of three.