Wild (Card) West: San Francisco’s Path To The Postseason
A lot can change over 365 days. On this date in 2021, the San Francisco Giants boasted a National League-best 79-44 record as they held a 1.5-game lead over their division foe, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
While the 2021 Giants ended the season with a bang to secure its first division title since 2012, this year’s team is in a very different spot with 41 games to go.
Entering play on Monday, San Francisco (60-61) trails the Philadelphia Phillies by six games for the second spot in the National League Wild Card race. The San Diego Padres hold a slim half-game lead over the Phillies for the second spot, while the Atlanta Braves are running away for the first Wild Card spot (eight-game lead over San Diego) as they chase the New York Mets in the National League East race.
With just over a month of baseball on the calendar, the Giants are going to need to catch one of Philadelphia or San Diego if they want to qualify for postseason play.
Philadelphia and San Diego aren’t the only teams that San Francisco is chasing, however as the Milwaukee Brewers are right in the thick of the race, sitting just 1.5 games back of the Phillies as of Monday afternoon.
If the Giants want to get in, they will have to both play themselves into the discussion while simultaneously hoping that other teams can take care of business against the other three teams in the Wild Card discussion. Following a brutal month of July in which San Francisco lost 17 of its 28 games, the orange and black have won nine of their last 15 contests.
Although a five-game winning streak was immediately erased with a four-game skid, the Giants got back on track thanks to Sunday’s thrilling 9-8 win over Colorado in extra innings.
WHAT A THROW. WHAT A TAG.
GIANTS WIN 🤩 pic.twitter.com/yhSXKx9c0m
— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) August 21, 2022
While a six-game deficit with 41 games left might seem like a daunting task for this hot-and-cold Giants team, the opportunity is there for San Francisco to make things interesting during the home stretch of the season.
Here are some upcoming series to keep an eye on as the San Francisco Giants’ playoff race heats up:
San Diego Padres
SF games remaining vs San Diego: 6
Remaining series: vs San Diego (August 29-31), @ San Diego (October 3-5)
If the Giants want any chance of staying alive, they are going to have to take care of business against the teams that they are chasing.
It all starts next week when the Padres come to Oracle Park for the final time this season. San Francisco has struggled against San Diego in 2022, holding a 5-8 record over 13 matchups. With former MVP candidate Fernando Tatis Jr. shelved for the remainder of the season due to a PED-related suspension, the Padres aren’t getting the extra boost down the stretch that they were originally anticipating.
Sure, San Diego pulled off arguably the most significant acquisition in the history of baseball when they traded for Juan Soto during this month’s trade deadline, but holes remain in the Padres roster. Since August 3rd, Soto and company have struggled to the tune of a 7-10 record while seeing its lead in the Wild Card race shrink.
Division games are always important, but the final six games against San Diego will have huge implications.
SF games remaining vs Philadelphia: 3
Remaining series: vs Philadelphia (September 2-4)
Next week is a big one for San Francisco. Immediately following a three-game set with the Padres, the Giants will open up a three-game set against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Unfortunately for San Francisco, reigning National League MVP Bryce Harper is expected to return in time for the three-game series that will take place at Oracle Park. Harper has been sidelined since June 25th due to a fractured thumb, but the 29-year-old will begin a rehab assignment on Tuesday afternoon with AAA Lehigh Valley.
The Giants took two out of three games from the Phillies during an early-season meeting between the two teams in late May. If the series against San Diego goes well, things could look very interesting for San Francisco come next weekend.
SF games remaining vs Milwaukee: 2
Remaining series: @ Milwaukee (September 8 in a doubleheader)
September 8th could be a very good or very bad day for the Giants…or basically just a wash if they split a doubleheader with the Milwaukee Brewers.
As of Monday, the Brew Crew are knocking on the door of the third and final Wild Card spot as they trailed the Phillies by just 1.5 games. Barring a collapse over the next two weeks, this doubleheader could give the Giants a chance to capitalize on one of their opponents in the race for October.
Los Angeles Dodgers
SF games remaining vs Los Angeles: 6
Remaining series: @ Los Angeles (September 5-7), vs Los Angeles (September 16-18)
Yeah. Those guys.
The Giants simply have to put an end to the bullying that they have endured from Los Angeles this season. Over 13 matchups, the Dodgers have defeated San Francisco in 10 of 13 games, as Giants pitchers have surrendered 66 runs (5.07 runs per game) during the onslaught.
Arguably the most difficult upcoming stretch (on paper, at least) for San Francisco will be when they have to face the red-hot Atlanta Braves (September 12-14) before they open up a three-game set against the Dodgers at Oracle Park.
If the Giants want to play baseball this fall, they will have to hold their own against a Los Angeles squad that is amid another incredible season.