Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, July 1, 2014 at 7:00 AM
After the games of Sunday June 8, the San Francisco Giants were 42-21 in your morning newspaper standings, and seemingly a certain LOCK to both win the NL West or at least reach the playoffs as a Wildcard They were 21 games over .500 in a year of parity! And, the hated Los Angeles Dodgers were way back in the rearview mirror.
Then, the bottom fell out…
1-3 vs. the Washington Nationals
0-3 vs. the struggling Colorado Rockies
0-2 on the road against the mediocre Chicago White Sox
2-1 on the road against the struggling Arizona Diamondbacks
1-2 vs. the poor San Diego Padres
0-4 vs. the Cincinnati Reds
That’s a stunning 4-15 over the last 19 games for the Giants…against what should have been a very manageable schedule (14 of the 19 were at home!). Sure, the team was due to regress towards the mean after a hot start…but that’s ridiculous.
After getting swept by the Reds, the Giants found themselves knotted up with the Los Angeles Dodgers for first place in the NL West. Their huge lead had evaporated. As had the sense that the team was automatic for October. If you’re getting swept by the Rockes, White Sox, and Reds…and losing at home to the Padres…you’re not playoff caliber.
That’s the backdrop for a huge three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals that begins Tuesday Night in the Bay Area. St. Louis is having some issues of their own. They lost the last two games of their series in Los Angeles this past weekend. And, that Reds’ sweep of San Francisco pushed Cincinnati past St. Louis in the NL Central. Suddenly playoff certainties are turning into question marks in the NL.
Let’s run our standard preview numbers to see if we can determine who’s more likely to snap to attention…
St. Louis: 3.70 runs per game, .316 on-base, .365 slugging
San Francisco: 4.05 runs per game, .306 on-base, .394 slugging
St. Louis has had trouble with the bats all season. The team can’t possibly get hot until the offense warms up! San Francisco has been trending in the wrong direction during their slump. They have an edge for the overall season…but that may not be the case moving forward.
Marco Gonzalez: 9.00 ERA, 1.80 WHIP, 5.4 K-Rate
Tim Lincecum: 4.42 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 8.1 K-Rate
You probably don’t know much about Gonzalez. His only start this season was five days ago at Colorado. He allowed five earned runs in five innings in what turned out to be a 9-6 victory. You know A LOT about Lincecum! And you may have watched the final outs of his no-hitter against San Diego last time out. Given his shaky form in 2014, that performance probably said more about how bad San Diego is than about Lincecum’s likelihood of dominating from this point forward.
Adam Wainwright: 2.01 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 8.1 K-Rate
Ryan Vogelsong: 3.96 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 7.7 K-Rate
Wainwright is still high up on the list of Cy Young contenders, though Clayton Kershaw has gone into superhero mode. Big edge here for the Cards over the Giants and Vogelsong. Ryan has improved on what had been looking like a disaster. But, those are poor numbers in a year-of-the-pitcher for a NL arm who throws home games in a pitcher’s park (true for both Vogelsong and Lincecum).
THURSDAY’S PITCHERS (Day Game)
Carlos Martinez: 4.13 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 7.5 K-Rate
Madison Bumgarner: 2.90 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 9.4 K-Rate
Awkward rotation right now for the Cardinals. Martinez has made only three starts this season, and he’s yet to last longer than five innings. Bumgarner is having another strong season, though he did get hit by the Reds in his last appearance. Big edge to Bumgarner…which could be increased if St. Louis decides to “take the day off” in an early get-away spot before they head home to face Miami. Some teams basically forfeit games like this if they’re up against an opposing ace.
JIM HURLEY will probably have at least one side or total play in this high profile series. You can always purchase NETWORK’S daily BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about extended service, call the office during normal business hours at 1-888-777-4155. Remember to take care of business EARLY whenever there are day games (and don’t forget to ask about early-bird football!)
The arrival of July brings the beginning of our monthlong series of college football conference previews. We’ll begin those the next time we’re together with the Mountain West. Here’s this week’s NOTEBOOK schedule.
Wednesday: College Football: Mountain West “East” Preview
Thursday: College Football: Mountain West “West” Preview
Friday: July 4 Baseball Extravaganza
Saturday: College Football: Conference USA “East” Preview
Sunday: College Football: Conference USA “West: Preview
We’ll start with the mid-majors this week and next. After that, the traditional BCS conferences will be under the microscope. July always flies by…leading to our annual NFL divisional previews that run in early August.
Get your notepads ready…and sharpen those pencils. It’s time to gear up for 2014 football with the man who wins in every sport…every year…world champion handicapper JIM HURLEY!