Before the remarkably weird, coronavirus-shortened, four-months tardy 2020 MLB season began, I had a lot of questions.
I wondered if the season could make it to August, let alone to September, let alone to completion.
I wondered if the San Francisco Giants would be able to see the postseason with a telescope after the first few weeks, in which half of their first 20 games were on the road against the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros.
I wondered if Mike Yastrzemski — one of the few good stories from 2019 — would regress intensely.
I wondered if Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford — two forever Giants who we will always love — would continue to decline to the point that watching them made us sad instead of happy.
And now, here we are. The Giants are kicking off the final week of the regular season, which is, indeed, going to make it to conclusion. They survived that brutal opening stretch, and enter the final straight jockeying for postseason position.
Yastrzemski didn’t regress, but instead built on his year and got even better. It’s not fair to say the Brandons turned back the clock, because neither of them have ever hit this well before.
It’s the final week of the season. That, in and of itself, defied the odds. That the Giants are playing meaningful games, with players you love being extremely fun to watch? Well, that’s just the cherry on top.
Monday, 9/21: vs. Colorado Rockies, 6:45 p.m.
Tuesday, 9/22: vs. Colorado Rockies, 6:45 p.m.
Wednesday, 9/23: vs. Colorado Rockies, 6:45 p.m.
Thursday, 9/24: vs. Colorado Rockies, 12:45 p.m.
Friday, 9/25: Doubleheader vs. San Diego Padres, 4:10 p.m.
Saturday, 9/26: vs. San Diego Padres, 6:15 p.m.
Sunday, 9/27: vs. San Diego Padres, 12:05 p.m.
How to watch
Regional TV: NBC Sports Bay Area, available through fuboTV (all games)
National TV: Monday, Thursday, Friday (Game 1), and Saturday (MLB Network, out of market only, available through fuboTV)
Radio: KNBR 680 AM/104.5 FM
Where the Giants stand entering the week
The Giants are 26-26, third place in the NL West, and in a three-way tie for the second Wild Card spot. They have a 43.4% chance of making the postseason, per Fangraphs, which is down from 56.1% this time last week.
If you can only watch one game this week, make it two games by watching Friday’s doubleheader. That’s two for the price of one, and it’s two against the Padres, a very good team. The Giants are just 7-18 against the very good teams on the schedule (the Padres, Dodgers, Astros, and Oakland Athletics).
It’s hard to imagine them making the postseason without reversing that trend a little when they conclude the season with four straight against San Diego. So watch the doubleheader — the season just might hang in the balance.
Giant to watch
Pretty much everyone on the Giants roster is important going into this week, but I’m going to highlight Brandon Belt. The Giants need every bit of star power possible this final week, and with Mike Yastrzemski’s health status still in question, Belt is the undisputed best player on the team.
Belt’s hitting 37-125 this year, with 8 home runs, 1 triple, 9 doubles, and 24 walks to just 32 strikeouts. That’s a career high in batting average (.296), on-base percentage (.409), and slugging percentage (.576), which makes for an OPS (.985) well more than .100 points above his career high.
That gives him the 14th-best wRC+ in all of baseball this season (minimum 100 plate appearances), with a better mark than the three MVP candidates in the division: Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, and Mookie Betts.
Had Belt not missed time with an injury, he might be in the MVP discussion.
Opposing player(s) to watch
The talk of the Padres remarkable season has justifiably been Fernando Tatis Jr., a veritable baseball wunderkind. But quietly their $300 million man has put a disappointing debut season with the Friars behind him with a stellar 2020.
Tatis (2.9 WAR) has been the second-most valuable position player in all of baseball this year, per Fangraphs. Manny Machado (2.7 WAR) has been fifth.
They’re as dominant of a one-two punch as you’ll find in baseball, capable of making life hell for opposing pitchers in any given series.
What beer I’m drinking from my couch bleachers
In honor of the conclusion of one of the weirdest and most nonsensical seasons in baseball history, I’m drinking a beer made out of breakfast cereal and edible glitter, named after the flatulence of a mythical beast.