For much of the year, a lot of us may have looked at the San Francisco Giants with skepticism. Despite hanging in the NL West race with the preseason favorite Dodgers and Padres all year, the Giants might’ve been seen as something of a fluke, given their lack of hype and older roster.
As we’re now in August, it may be time to re-think things.
The Giants come into a big weekend series at American Family Field as the clear leader in a tight division race, sitting 4 games above the Dodgers and carrying the best record in baseball at 69-40. Their +127 run differential is the second-best in the NL (behind only the Dodgers) and the third-best in all of baseball.
And much of that was done before they added another impact bat in Kris Bryant at the trade deadline.
The Giants have won 7 of their last 10, but they are “only” 34-23 on the road this year. You can accuse them of getting fat off of series against the Diamondbacks and Rockies, but before taking 3 of 4 from Arizona this week, they also took 2 of 3 against the Houston Astros and the Dodgers.
As mentioned, Bryant gives the Giants another impact player in their lineup, and while he’s a free agent at the end of the season, there’s a solid chance he decides to stay in orange and black going forward. After hitting .267/.358/.503 with the Cubs, he’s gone 6-for-18 in his first week as a Giant, hitting a home run and scoring 3 times in 5 games. He also drove in the go-ahead run in the 10th inning of yesterday’s 5-4 win over Arizona.
Of course, he’s not the only All-Star in a deep San Francisco batting order. Buster Posey is playing like it’s 2012 again, hitting .325/.418/.539 in 71 games as he more than earned the starting nod behind the plate at this year’s All-Star game. Opting out of the 2020 season seems to have helped rejuvenate him, as he’s hit 13 home runs and 13 doubles so far this year.
Shortstop Brandon Crawford comes into the weekend just shy of a .900 OPS, hitting .289/.363/.533 in 89 games with 18 home runs and very good defense as usual.
There are other power threats throughout the lineup, too, including Darin Ruf (12 home runs), Evan Longoria (working his way back from injury, but 9 home runs in 50 games), Brandon Belt (11 home runs), LaMonte Wade, Jr. (13 home runs), Mike Yastrzemski (18 home runs) and Almost Former Brewer Wilmer Flores (14 home runs).
Given that list, it’s probably not a surprise that the Giants come into tonight tied with Toronto for the Major League lead in home runs with 164 total. That’s 33 more homers than the Brewers, who currently rank 17th in the league.
The Probable Pitchers
Friday, 7:10 p.m. CDT - Logan Webb vs. Corbin Burnes
Webb is a 24-year-old righty who is breaking out in a big way this season. After appearing in parts of two seasons as a spot starter, the former 4th-round pick has unlocked something this season that has allowed him to stop walking so many people while getting more batters to chase out of the zone. In 15 games this year (14 starts), he’s put up a 3.33 ERA while striking out 73 batters in 73 innings and putting up one of the top chase rates in the league. He’s done it without overpowering stuff — he works with a 93 mph fastball, an 86 mph changeup and an 82 mph slider — but he’s done a very good job of limiting hard contact. He held the powerful Astros lineup to just 2 runs over 6 innings in his last start.
Saturday, 6:10 p.m. CDT - TBD vs. Brandon Woodruff
Woodruff labored in his last start against Atlanta, scattering 8 hits over 5.1 innings and allowing 3 runs for a second straight start. This could be a third straight challenge for him.
Sunday, 1:10 p.m. CDT - Johnny Cueto vs. Brett Anderson
Now 35 years old, it feels like Cueto has been around forever, but he’s still largely been a very solid back-end starter on another contending Giants team. His fastball is down to 92 mph, but it’s still a plus pitch, and he’s played it well off of his slider this year. He may not strike out as many as he did in his younger days, but he’s been excellent in keeping free runners off the bases, with a BB% that ranks in the 87th percentile in the league. He’s put up a 3.83 ERA in 18 starts so far this year, but has struggled more away from home, where he’s allowed a .319/.374/.519 line in 40.1 innings.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and Statcast