Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 7:00 AM
A week ago we talked about how the San Francisco Giants were in a precarious position in both the NL West and NL Wildcard races. And, how they were confronting that danger at the beginning of a BRUTAL schedule stretch.
The first week of that challenge didn’t go so well!
San Francisco dropped two games out of three in St. Louis
San Francisco dropped three games out of four in Pittsburgh
That 2-5 performance was a huge blow in the Wildcard race. The red hot Chicago Cubs kept winning…and now hold a seemingly comfortable six game lead over the Giants for the second and final “bonus” spot in the brackets. Since those two teams are playing each other the next three nights…the Cubs could almost slam the door by winning this series. The Cubbies enter the series 20 games over the .500 mark, while the Giants are only 8 games over. In late August? That’s a big deal.
There is good news for Giants fans though. The Los Angeles Dodgers lost five straight games…which kept SF within very close reach at the top of the AL West. SF was only 1.5 games out of the top spot at the end of this past weekend. The Giants can get into the playoffs by winning the West…which means they can get into the playoffs with a worse record than the Cubs.
Things always get messy in the MLB playoff picture before working themselves out. Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats have to say about how things might work out in this series…
Chicago Cubs: 4.17 runs per game, .320 on-base, .394 slugging
San Francisco: 4.29 runs per game, .326 on-base, .407 slugging
Those are strong numbers in the NL league this year. And, both teams have been hurt by playing home games in pitcher’s parks. Wrigley Field for the Cubs has been a pitcher’s park most of the season because of weather conditions and SF is always brutal for bats. When you adjust for that, we have two ELITE offenses. If only the media noticed this stuff! The Cubs are averaging almost 4.5 runs per game on the road. San Francisco is even better at 4.6 rpg away from home, with a monstrous .417 slugging percentage that leads the NL by a mile.
Jake Arrieta: 2.30 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 9.1 K-Rate, 6.7 IP-per-Start
Matt Cain: 5.66 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, 6.6 K-Rate, 4.3 IP-per-Start
Arrieta has been throwing quality starts for as far back as the eye can see. His won-lost record has surged to 15-6 as he continues posting ace-caliber stats for one of the hottest teams in baseball. Oh, and another reminder that NL teams should be looking to swipe pitchers from the superior American League! That plus the expanded strike zone has really brought out the best in Arrieta. Cain continues to struggle, though he had a decent outing last week in St. Louis. That was his first good one in a while. The Giants desperately need him to find some sort of consistent form or they have no chance of playing in October. Big edge to the Cubs in the opener, obviously.
Kyle Hendricks: 4.03 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 7.8 K-Rate, 5.7 IP-per-Start
Jake Peavy: 4.35 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 6.7 K-Rate, 5.6 IP-per-Start
This is the ESPN game. Hendricks has seen his ERA jump half a run over the past month. But, the Cubs are so hot that they’ve won his last five starts anyway! For the Giants, everyone would be complaining about what a drag Peavy is on the rotation if Cain hadn’t been so much worse. You just can’t have an ERA that high and an IP-per-start mark so low when throwing your home games in a pitcher’s park during a “year of the pitcher.” A rare occurrence for Hendricks in that he has better stats across the board. Basically a toss-up if you give the Giants nods for a slightly better offense and home field advantage.
Dan Haren: 3.76 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 6.3 K-Rate, 5.9 IP-per-Start
Madison Bumgarner: 3.02 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 9.5 K-Rate, 6.8 IP-per-Start
Haren has yet to throw a quality start for the Cubs in four tries since the trade, and is averaging less than 5 innings pitched! Maybe the pressure of being in a playoff race is getting to him. His full season numbers overstate his current form. Obviously the best chance for the Giants to get a win in this series because Bumgarner has been throwing a lot of recent gems. Will oddsmakers have Bumgarner as too big a favorite?
JIM HURLEY will only release a selection in this series if he sees line value. You can purchase each night’s baseball BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about extended service, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours.
One more baseball report before we jump into dress rehearsal weekend in the NFL. We’ve moved from Baltimore/Kansas City to Toronto/Texas because the Jays are in a dramatic race with the Yankees atop the AL East, while the hot Rangers are now in the heat of the AL Wildcard battle. Baltimore’s recent slump knocked the Orioles out of the NOTEBOOK!
Wednesday: MLB Big Game Preview…Toronto at Texas
Thurs-Friday: NFL TV Preview…Detroit at Jacksonville on CBS
Saturday: NFL TV Preview…Seattle at San Diego on CBS
Sunday: NFL TV Preview…Houston at New Orleans on FOX
Monday: MLB Series Preview…Either Washington at St. Louis or San Francisco at the Los Angeles Dodgers
Tuesday: College Football Notes (the season begins a week from Thursday!)
The NFL doesn’t play until Friday this week…so that first TV preview will enjoy an extended stay. We’ve entered the most exciting handicapping week of August. Be sure you get all the BIG, JUICY WINNERS from JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!
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