Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, August 16, 2015 at 7:00 PM
The San Francisco Giants are hanging precariously on the edge of both divisional and Wildcard playoff races. They’re within striking distance of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West…but drifting behind the suddenly red-hot Chicago Cubs for the second and final Wildcard spot (either Chicago or Pittsburgh is definitely going to get ONE of the spots…the Giants are on the outside looking in at the moment).
And…look at the absolutely BRUTAL schedule coming up…
Monday-Wednesday: at St. Louis (best team in baseball)
Thursday-Sunday: at Pittsburgh (arguably the third best team in baseball)
August 25-27: vs. the Chicago Cubs (recently one of the hottest teams in baseball)
August 28-30: vs. St. Louis in a home rematch
August 31-September 3: at the Los Angeles Dodgers (current NL West leaders)
That’s 16 straight games against most of the probable playoff roster of October 2015 (those four plus the NL East champ). San Francisco must at least tread water during that stretch if they have any hopes of surging late to crash the party! If SF struggles to something like 6-10 or 5-11…then the teams they’re chasing are likely to pull further ahead.
Do or die indeed!
Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats have to say about the Giants/Cards matchup…
San Francisco: 4.41 runs per game, .328 on-base, .414 slugging
St. Louis: 3.98 runs per game, .321 on-base, .390 slugging
San Francisco arguably has the best offense in the National League. Playing home games in a pitcher’s park makes it hard to post huge numbers. Check this out. On the ROAD, the Giants are up at 4.88 runs per game and lead the league in both on-base and slugging. The Cards are a pitching heavy team that’s scoring enough to support that great pitching. The Giants have the clearly superior offense…an edge that would be seen as dominant in a neutral environment.
Chris Heston: 3.38 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 6.8 K-Rate, 6.1 IP-per-Start
Michael Wacha: 2.93 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 7.7 K-Rate, 6.3 IP-per-Start
This is the prime time game on ESPN. Heston has thrown seven quality starts in his last nine outings. Though, his last two road performances were very shaky at Texas and the Chicago Cubs. Wacha continues to pitch like an ace, pushing his record for the season to 14-4 for the best team in the sport. Edge to the hosts…particularly with the visitor flying in from the Bay Area without a day off. The Cards stay at home after hosting Miami. But…San Francisco’s superior offense gives them a chance to be competitive at the very least. If the probable pitching matchups hold, this is SF’s best shot…which is bad luck in the jet-lag scenario.
Mike Leake: 3.52 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 6.0 K-Rate, 6.5 IP-per-Start
Lance Lynn: 2.95 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 9.6 K-Rate, 5.8 IP-per-Start
This is only Leake’s second start as a Giant. He pitched very well in Texas last week but lost a 2-1 heartbreaker. Lynn has a similar ERA to Wacha, but is getting there a different way. His WHIP is unimpressive, but he keeps bailing himself out with strikeouts. Not making it to six full innings consistently hasn’t hurt because of the great bullpen backing him up. Though, a pitcher with an ERA of 2.95 on this team should have a better record than 9-7! Note that Lynn is in bounce-back mode after getting rocked by Pittsburgh in his last outing. Combined San Francisco’s offense with Lynn’s WHIP…and there is some potential for the dog here.
Matt Cain: 6.05 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, 6.3 K-Rate, 5.2 IP-per-Start
Jaime Garcia: 1.57 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 6.3 K-Rate, 6.8 IP-per-Start
Cain continues to struggle. Only two quality starts in his eight outings since returning from injury. Really bad spot for a flailing pitcher in a pennant race! Garcia has only made 11 starts this season…so you can’t quite talk about him in the same breath as Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. He is pitching that well so far though. Huge edge to the Cards in the season finale.
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We’re going to party like it’s 1969 in our next report…as that Mets/Orioles series is a call-back to a memorable World Series. Then it’s a football barrage as we wrap up our series of NFL divisional previews.
Tuesday: MLB Series Preview…NY Mets at Baltimore Orioles
Wednesday-Thursday: AFC North Preview to get you ready for Cleveland hosting Buffalo
Friday: AFC West Preview to get you ready for Kansas City hosting Seattle
Saturday: NFC South Preview to get you ready for New Orleans hosting New England
Sunday: NFL TV Preview…St. Louis Rams at Tennessee Titans
Monday: NFL TV Preview…Cincinnati Bengals at Tampa Bay Bucs
Baseball’s been a blast…and will continue to thrill over the next several weeks. The football frenzy is just beginning. Be sure you get every BIG, JUICY WINNER seven days a week from JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!
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