This isn’t the final series before the MLB trade deadline, which occurs on August 2. But in many ways, it feels like it for the San Francisco Giants.
The Giants have been slumping lately, having lost 13 of their last 20 games. Yet their run differential has been even during that time, and they’ve won four of their last five.
If the slump continues, they could turn into sellers ahead of the deadline. But assuming they keep righting the ship — and all signs point to them doing exactly that — they might become buyers instead.
But standing in between the Giants and the All-Star break (which the Giants are sending two players to) is a four-game series with a very, very good team: the Milwaukee Brewers.
At 45-42, the Giants have a chance to enter the break seven games above .500 ... or with a losing record. And as such, this series feels quite meaningful.
Who: San Francisco Giants vs. Milwaukee Brewers
Where: Oracle Park, San Francisco, California
When: Thursday (6:45 p.m. PT), Friday (7:15 p.m. PT), Saturday (4:15 p.m. PT), and Sunday (1:05 p.m. PT)
National broadcasts: Saturday (Fox)
Thursday: Carlos Rodón vs. Corbin Burnes
Friday: Alex Wood vs. Brandon Woodruff
Saturday: Alex Cobb vs. Eric Lauer
Sunday: Logan Webb vs. Jason Alexander
Where they stand
Record: 45-42, 3rd in the NL West
Run differential: +44, 6th in the NL
Postseason standing: 1st team out, 1 game out of the Wild Card, 12 games out of the division
Momentum: 2-game winning streak, 5-5 in their last 10 games
Record: 49-40, 1st in the NL Central
Run differential: +37, 7th in the NL
Postseason standing: 3rd seed
Momentum: 1-game losing streak, 4-6 in their last 10 games
Season series: Giants lead 1-0
Three Giants to watch
Brandon Belt: It hasn’t been the best season for Belt. After being one of the best hitters in baseball in 2020 and 2021, Belt got off to a slow (by his standards) start to 2022, then missed a chunk of time after testing positive for the coronavirus, and then looked out of sorts and rhythm when he returned. But suddenly he’s red hot. In the last four games, Belt is 8-12 with two home runs, two doubles, and a walk. With three of the Brewers’ starters this series being righties, Belt has a chance to end the break on a very high note.
Carlos Rodón: It’s been a busy week for Rodón. He threw a 12-strikeout complete game on Saturday, then got snubbed for the All-Star Game on Sunday, then got added to the roster as an injury replacement a few days later. If the season ended today, Rodón might be the NL Cy Young winner ... and he starts the series by facing off with last year’s Cy Young winner.
David Villar: Villar has been an everyday player since making his MLB debut on July 4. That will stay the case for as long as Evan Longoria is injured, and probably beyond that if Villar keeps hitting like this. The rookie didn’t really have handedness splits in the Minors, as he hit righties as well as lefties. It’s a tiny sample, but that hasn’t been the case in the Majors. Against lefties, the righty slugger is 6-11 with three extra-base hits. Against righties, he’s just 2-20 with no extra-base hits. This is a huge series for him.
Three Brewers to watch
Corbin Burnes: Burnes is backing up his Cy Young season with another brilliant year, and his second All-Star selection. Burnes has been a little worse than last year in most categories, but has still managed to sport an even better ERA this year — 2.20, compared to last year’s MLB-leading 2.43. His FIP isn’t quite there, at 2.99 — it was a jaw-dropping 1.63 a year ago — but he leads the NL with 134 strikeouts, and has more than five Ks for every walk.
Eric Lauer: The one lefty the Giants will face is having an interesting season. Lauer has a nice enough ERA, as it sits at 3.83. But his FIP sits at just 4.59, largely because he’s doing a few things that the Giants like to capitalize on. Namely the 18 home runs he’s allowed in just 16 starts. Safe to say we’ll see some swings for the fences when Darin Ruf, Wilmer Flores, Yermín Mercedes, David Villar, and the rest of the righties step in against Lauer.
Jason Alexander: Yes, we’re sticking with only pitchers here, because that’s how the Brewers operate. Alexander is more than just a pitcher with a famous name. He’s also a pitcher who is really struggling, as he sports a 4.73 ERA and a 4.94 FIP. Alexander’s main issue is that he can’t strike people out ... he has just 18 punch outs in 40 innings this season.
Give us your prediction, folks.
Who wins the series?
This poll is closed
Giants win 3-1
Brewers win 3-1