Before the season began, I predicted the San Francisco Giants would go 84-78 but I didn’t know if that would be enough to clinch a Wild Card spot.
I figured it would depend on a combination of solid pitching and hitting, with perhaps a savvy transaction or two during the season — especially at the trade deadline — to give them enough for a push at the end of the season. As you can see, that hasn’t really come to pass. It’s really all about the pitching, and any positive contributions the team gets from the lineup is indistinguishable from luck.
When you look at the Cubs, you see another team thriving in the spot where the Giants had hoped to be. They have the good fortune of being a preferred destination by quality free agents and in the NL Central. They’re getting stellar contributions from young guys, old guys, pitchers and hitters. It’s a team effort.
They’re also solidly ahead of the Giants in the Wild Card race and have ascended the gaggle of mediocre franchises scratching and clawing for the third and final spot.
They are 31-17 in the second half with solid pitching (4.29 ERA) and stellar hitting (5.875 runs/game - .795 OPS). They’ve also gone 17-9 at Wrigley Field.
Their deadline moves weren’t splashy — 1B/3B Jeimer Candelario (Nationals) and RHP Jose Cuas (Royals) — but they’ve been effective (.831 OPS and 0.69 ERA, respectively).
Meanwhile, the Giants did a variation of “No drive thru — We have good players at home,” but seemed to have wildly overestimated the expiration dates of what they had in house. The Giants’ vets have mostly pumpkin’d and their rookies are still rookies with no obvious superstars in the bunch, so it’s just going to take time to see how that group develops. Hardly a match for the Cubs.
That said, this is still Baseball. Anything can happen. The Padres turned on their talent beam and vaporized the Giants. Maybe Gabe Kapler can locate his team’s “compete” switch in time for them to appear a little competitive.
Consider this series the Giants’ Wild Card round, and if they somehow survive it with a series win, they’ll advance to the “still competing for the postseason Wild Card” round.
Who: San Francisco Giants vs. Chicago Cubs
Where: Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois
When: Monday (11:20am PT), Tuesday (4:40pm PT), Wednesday (11:20M PT)
National broadcasts: Monday – MLB Network simulcast, Tuesday — TBS simulcast
Monday: Logan Webb vs. Justin Steele
Tuesday: TBA vs. Kyle Hendricks
Wednesday: TBA vs. Jordan Wicks
Where they stand
Record: 73-64 2nd in NL Central
Run differential: +87, 3rd in NL
Postseason standing: 3.5 games back in division, 2nd Wild Card
Momentum: 1-game winning streak; 6-4 in last 10 games
Record: 70-67 3rd in NL West
Run differential: -5, 7th in NL
Postseason standing: 14.5 games back in division, tied with four teams for 3rd Wild Card
Momentum: 3-game losing streak; 4-6 in last 10 games
Cubs to watch
Cody Bellinger: He’s hitting .346/.376/.622 with 12 home runs in the second half and has certainly returned to his pre-shoulder injury performance level. Yesterday, Bob Nightengale pre-cursed the Giants by offering up a bit of intentionally leaked team PR about how the Giants will aggressively pursue him in the offseason (presumably for the second year in a row), which I’m sure has more to do with giving broadcasters something to talk about as the Giants are annihilated over 27 innings; but otherwise, consider it a distraction and enjoy the fireworks.
Mike Tauchman: The one-game Giants hero has ascended into a multi-game one for the Cubs. He’s at .284/.374/.433 in the second half.
Seiya Suzuki: While we enjoy the guy who will be spurned by the Giants this offseason, let’s also enjoy the guy who rejected them in a prior offseason. His .778 season OPS is solid, but his .825 OPS in the second half is great. He’s slugging .494 in his last 43 games.
Giants to watch
Logan Webb: The team’s ace hasn’t been acing of late and that’s a problem since the team’s grand project for competing is “pitch a shutout or die.” He’s still been fine to good, but on the year he’s approaching a 5 ERA on the road, which is not what you want, either. The Giants really need him to be The Stopper in game one.
Wilmer Flores: Can he continue to be the best hitter on the team?
Joc Pederson: Perhaps a return to familiar territory (11 HR in 73 games with the Cubs in 2021; career .734 OPS at Wrigley Field) will spark some power from the Giants’ punchless power guy?
This poll is closed
Cubs win series
Cubs do not win series
Cubs somehow swept?