A year after leading the Majors in wins, the San Francisco Giants will almost surely miss the postseason.
Almost. The Giants are still in it, and not just in the strict mathematical sense. We’ve seen wilder pushes to make the playoffs. Much wilder, in fact.
But if they want to make the postseason — or at least have an interesting final few weeks — they need to ... err ... get their asses in gear.
And the time is now. Not just because there aren’t many other times to choose from, but because the schedule has finally lightened up after the three-piece meal that was a whole bunch of games against the Los Angeles Dodgers capped off by a road series against the San Diego Padres.
The Giants are hosting the Pittsburgh Pirates, who are 45-67. Then it’s the Arizona Diamondbacks, who are 51-60. After that it’s the Colorado Rockies, who are 50-64, followed by the Detroit Tigers, who are 43-70. A set against the 57-53 Minnesota Twins and then it’s back into the Padresian end of the pool.
In other words, it’s now or never. So get to it, dudes.
Who: San Francisco Giants vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
Where: Oracle Park, San Francisco, California
When: Friday (7:15 p.m. PT), Saturday (6:05 p.m. PT), and Sunday (1:05 p.m. PT)
National broadcasts: None
Friday: Carlos Rodón vs. Bryse Wilson
Saturday: Logan Webb vs. TBD
Sunday: Alex Wood vs. Zach Thompson
Where they stand
Record: 54-57, 3rd in the NL West
Run differential: +14, 8th in the NL
Momentum: 2-game losing streak, 4-6 in their last 10 games
Postseason standing: 2nd team out, 7.5 games out of the Wild Card
Record: 45-67, 4th in the NL Central
Run differential: -156, 14th in the NL
Momentum: 1-game losing streak, 5-5 in their last 10 games
Postseason standing: Extremely out of it
Season series: Giants lead 2-1
Three Giants to watch
Carlos Rodón: Rodón has been the best Giant this season, and it’s not particularly close (it is, however, concerning, since it doesn’t seem super likely that he’ll be back next year). By fWAR, their most valuable position players — Wilmer Flores and Thairo Estrada — have been worth 1.8 WAR. Their second-most valuable pitcher — Logan Webb — has been worth 2.6 WAR. And Rodón? 4.4 WAR, tied with Sandy Alcántara for the NL lead despite throwing 37.2 fewer innings. Rodón has also been the most vocal Giant about the team’s chances. He’s been publicly upset when they struggle, and offered up pep talks through the media. He openly didn’t want to be traded at the deadline because he thought the team deserved a chance to make a postseason push. Well, now’s the time. Lead the charge, Carlos.
Brandon Belt: It’s been tough watching Belt this season. Despite being the third-best hitter in the Majors in 2020 and 2021, he hasn’t been able to find his groove this year. He’s looked physically compromised all season long, and as a result, has almost entirely lost his power — his .379 slugging percentage is the lowest of his career by a mile, and more than .200 points below where it sat in each of the last two seasons. If the Giants are to make a push, it will come from players like Belt putting things together just in time.
J.D. Davis: Since the Giants traded Darin Ruf for Davis (and prospects), he’s hit 8-24 with three home runs. I don’t know much about baseball, but I do know that’s very good. With two more years of team control, Davis will likely be on the Giants for some time, and this series is another chance to prove that the team should view him as a staple of the roster.
Three Pirates to watch
Oneil Cruz: You could make the case that Cruz is the most fascinating player in baseball right now. His profile is one that we’ve truly never seen before: he stands 6’7”, but plays shortstop. Fangraphs gives him an 80/80 grade for raw power and a 40/70 grade for game power which, to put in layman’s terms, is essentially Alex Rodriguezian shortstop power. Fangraphs has him as the No. 2 prospect in all of baseball. He also hasn’t figured it out in the Majors yet, though he’s only 23. In 45 career games he’s hitting just .216/.258/.437, comfortably below average. He’s struck out 64 times in 169 plate appearances, with just 10 walks. Watch him in the batter’s box or on the field and it’s clear you’re seeing a player you’ve never seen before. It’s cool.
Ke’Bryan Hayes: Hayes might not be the unique prospect that Cruz is, but he’s quite arguably the better one. The No. 6 prospect when he graduated last year, Cruz has already proven it at the MLB level. He’s still hoping to have his bat really come around — his career slash line of .266/.332/.397 is the definition of league average — but he’s the best defensive third baseman in baseball and no one is even running the same race that he is.
Zach Thompson: The Giants will have wide-open eyes when they face Thompson, who has given up 36 walks and 16 home runs in just 90.1 innings this season, while striking out only 62 batters. It’s led to a 5.08 ERA, a 5.28 FIP, and a Giants team that is eager to face him.
Get your predictions in. Hopefully they’re optimistic and if so, hopefully they’re right.
Who wins the series?
This poll is closed
Giants win 2-1
Pirates win 2-1