We all know the Giants’ strength, pitching, and we all know their weakness, hitting. Pretty straightforward, right? The question is, which will prevail as SF heads down the stretch in a tight race for the National League Wild Card berth. At the start of this post, the Giants and Colorado Rockies were tied for the Wild Card spot. However, by the time we’re done here, it looks as though the Rockies will have a one game advantage. Though, since the Giants have been the frontrunners for a long stretch prior to this, many have posed the question whether they can hang on or not. Typically, when you’re nine games over .500, you’re talking about winning the division. But the Dodgers don’t appear to be slowing down any time soon, so Giants’ fans are left focusing on the Wild Card.
Tim Lincecum appears to be getting more and more unhittable with each start. Matt Cain has always showed potential, but lacked run support. This year, though, he’s finally turned the corner, and the offense has seemingly turned it with him – for his starts at least. Problem is, after that you’re looking at Randy Johnson, Barry Zito, and Jonathan Sanchez. Johnson may only get worse as the year goes on. He’s currently sideline with a strained left shoulder, which doesn’t bode well for a pitcher in his 40s. He’s already slated to be out longer than originally anticipated, so we won’t see the Big Unit until next month at the earliest. Despite throwing the first no-hitter in 30+ years for the Giants, SF fans will be the first to say they don’t exactly go in expecting a W when Sanchez is on the mound. He’s had his moments, and he looked great when he put those moments together for 9 full innings 10 days ago. Tonight, he went 6 innings giving up 3 earned runs. That is even considered a great game for him. Then there’s Barry Zito. I don’t want to kick a guy while he’s down, so I’m going to refrain from talking about Zito for the rest of his career presumably.
On the offensive side, Pablo Sandoval is having a well-documented breakout year, but when you look down the rest of the order, it looks very Athletic-like, numbers-wise. It’s not like there’s really any veteran players who are due to break out any time soon either. The offense is, and most likely, will be anemic for the remainder of the year. Therefore, it seems logical that they need to trade for a bat. They have two young pitchers who could net the offensive help they need, but the front office seems pretty locked in on Madison Bumgarner and Tim Alderson, so they don’t appear to be going anywhere.
I think the only move that makes sense would be to acquire one more veteran pitcher who can turn it on down the stretch. It’s often assumed that the Giants have two guaranteed wins each time through the rotation: Lincecum and Cain. Problem is, they almost have three guaranteed losses each round with Zito, Sanchez, and Johnson fill-in, Ryan Sadowski. I know what you’re saying. “Sadowski has a 1.00 ERA!” But, go look at Vin Mazzaro’s stats. Tell me their first three starts don’t look identical, and then look at what Mazzaro’s done since then. Ok? Ok.
Basically, the Giants will be LUCKY to play .500 ball the rest of the way. I project them winning 7 of every 15 games, and quite frankly, that won’t be enough. BUT, they are locked in a playoff race, and at this point in the season, that’s all a team can ask for.