It baffles me that the Giants are second in their division just one game back of the Dodgers and in current possession of the second wild card spot. I just look at that roster and see a bunch of old players well beyond their prime years plus a couple of really good players. But darn it that could describe the Brewers too!
Here's the thing though. The Giants (111 wRC+) have the fourth best wRC+ in baseball and second best in the NL. By the way, the Blue Jays and Dodgers are tied at the top with 112 wRC+. Ignoring pitchers (which is a shame because Madison Bumgarner has a 114 wRC+) of the Giants players with 100+ plate appearances only 3 have less than a 100 wRC+. Of those three only Angel Pagan has seen a significant amount of playing time and Casey McGehee is gone.
And here is why I'm most surprised by the Giants success this season. Their combined pitching staff has earned a paltry 5.1 fWAR. That's 27th in baseball just ahead of the Phillies. For comparison, the Brewers have gotten 7.2 fWAR from their pitchers.
Separating the rotation from the bullpen may provide some answers. The rotation is 27th (3.87 ERA, 4.01 FIP, 4.2 fWAR) and the bullpen is 22nd (3.32 ERA, 3.61 FIP, 0.8 fWAR). Their ERA is better than their FIP. So either they're getting lucky or they're doing something that allows them to outperform their FIP.
Monday July 27, 9:15 pm CST: Kyle Lohse vs Chris Heston
Along with Madison Bumgarner, Chris Heston has been a big part of the Giants success this season. In 19 starts (119.0 IP) he has a 19.8 K%, 6.7 BB%, 0.45 HR/9, .239 BAA, 1.15 WHIP, 3.18 ERA, 3.18 FIP, and 2.0 fWAR. Heston also has a 56.8 GB%.
He throws a fastball (88-90), slider, curveball, and change-up.
Tuesday July 28, 9:15 pm CST: Wily Peralta vs Matt Cain
I think there is still hope for Matt Cain but it relies on his ability limit home runs. This year he has a 21.5 K%, 7.5 BB%, .256 BAA, and 1.32 WHIP. Those aren't great numbers but that K%-BB% is solid. The problem is the 1.64 HR/9 is terrible. The previous two seasons saw his HR/9 go up so it's a trend now. If he can figure out a way to reverse the trend he should be able to put together a decent run. But he might just be done too.
He throws a fastball (90-91), slider, change-up, and curveball.
Wednesday July 29, 2:45 pm CST: Mike Fiers vs Jake Peavy
The Giants traded for Peavy at last year's deadline after an abysmal half season with the Red Sox. He bounced back in a big way going from a 4.72 ERA to a 2.17 ERA. The Giants were hoping for similar production this year. As of right now though, Peavy has a 4.86 ERA in 6 starts (33.1 IP). He's been on the disabled list for most of the season. It's hard to know what to expect from him at this point.
He throws a fastball (89-90), cutter, change-up, curveball, and occasionally a slider.
Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs