The schedule-making powers that be decided that the San Francisco Giants should play the San Diego Padres 10 times in their final 19 games, which is a little annoying. I’m sick of the Padres. But on the other hand, San Diego is playing much worse baseball now than they were at the beginning of the season — as evidenced by their extreme reluctance to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers — so it could be worse for the Giants going into the final weekend.
As the last series of the regular season gets underway, it’s hard not to marvel at how much the Giants and Padres accidentally put on each other’s shoes.
Entering the season, the Padres were supposed to be a team with greatness in them. They were meant to challenge the Dodgers all season long for NL West supremacy. There was even talk that the division could have two teams eclipse the 100-win mark, and how wild would that be?
The Giants, on the other hand, were projected to try and tread water. Most algorithms suggested the Giants win total would hover in the 70s — they’d have moments of brilliance where they looked like a postseason team, moments of frustration where they looked poorly composed, and ultimately nestle into a fight for .500.
Go back to March and describe the Giants’ season as the Padres’, and the Padres’ season as the Giants’, and you probably wouldn’t believe it because it would be too accurate. The projections aren’t supposed to be that on the nose.
And they certainly weren’t.
If the Giants win the series, they win the NL West outright. If they lose the series 2-1, and the Dodgers sweep the Milwaukee Brewers, the Giants and Dodgers will play a tiebreaker game in San Francisco. If the Giants get swept and the Dodgers sweep the Brewers, the Dodgers win the NL West outright, and the Giants are the first Wild Card. If the Giants get swept and the Dodgers beat the Brewers 2-1, the tiebreaker will be played.
Who: San Francisco Giants vs. San Diego Padres
Where: Oracle Park, San Francisco, California
When: Friday (6:45 p.m. PT), Saturday (1:05 p.m. PT), and Sunday (12:05 p.m. PT)
National broadcasts: Friday and Saturday (MLB Network, out of market only)
Where they stand
San Francisco Giants
Record: 105-54, 1st in the NL West
Run differential: +201, 2nd in the NL
Postseason standing: 1st seed
Momentum: 6-game winning streak, 8-2 in their last 10 games
San Diego Padres
Record: 78-81, 3rd in the NL West
Run differential: +30, 7th in the NL
Postseason standing: Eliminated
Momentum: 6-game losing streak, 1-9 in their last 10 games
Season series: Giants lead 9-7
Three Giants to watch
Anthony DeSclafani and Kevin Gausman: Regardless of what the Dodgers do, the Giants can win the division on Saturday if they win the first two games of the series, started by DeSclafani and Gausman, respectively. If the Brewers help the Giants out on Friday, the division could be clinched by Disco alone. Clinching early is beneficial, as Logan Webb is scheduled to start on Sunday, with the team going all-in to avoid a play-in scenario, rather than setting up their rotation for a potential Game No. 163 (and 164, for that matter). If the Giants can get the job done by Sunday, they might rest Webb so that he’s ready for the NLDS. If they get things handled by Saturday, they might do the same with Gausman. With a shortage of available arms, those two might still pitch, but with lighter loads. Every bit of rest helps.
Kris Bryant: The sky is not falling with the Giants All-Star trade acquisition, as some on Twitter might want you to believe. But there’s no skirting around the fact that Bryant has struggled lately, and not just because of the defensive foibles in outfield. In his last seven games, Bryant is hitting 3-25 with no extra-base hits and just a single walk drawn. For the month of September he had an OPS of just .684, which is about what Curt Casali is hitting this season. Should we panic? Absolutely not. Should we hope that he can find his timing at the plate this weekend? Absolutely yes.
Brandon Crawford: With Brandon Belt injured, Crawford has to carry twice the Brandon load, which he’s proved more than capable of. But really, he’s a Giant to watch because he has one series left to put his stamp on the MVP race. Crawford is sixth among National League position players in fWAR, so he’s very unlikely to win the award, but he should finish firmly in the top five — my guess is fourth.
Three Padres to watch
Fernando Tatis Jr. Injuries will likely keep Tatis from winning his first MVP, though he’s one of the few names I expect to finish ahead of Crawford. But mostly he’s on this list because of what he did at Dodger Stadium on Thursday.
As the 23rd season of Oracle Park wraps up, we’re still waiting for a right-handed hitter to put one in the water. If I had to put my money on someone, it’s Tatis.
Joe Musgrove: Musgrove is the only listed starter for the Padres this series, as they’ve been dealt countless injuries to the rotation. He’s having a solid but not shut down season, though he has the capability to be dominant on any given night, as evidenced by his no-hitter earlier in the season.
Manny Machado: I dunno, Machado just seems like a dude who would really want to spoil things for the Giants.
Who wins the series?
This poll is closed
Giants win 2-1
Padres win 2-1