Among the second tier of baseball futures favorites back in March, it might take another miracle on the scale of the 1951 team to propel the San Fraicisco Giants into the playoffs.
“The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!” Those famous words were screamed into the microphone by Russ Hodges at least a dozen times in 1951 when the then-New York Giants walked off on Bobby Thomson’s home run to complete a huge comeback and beat the Brooklyn Dodgers for the NL flag.
The Giants were 13½ behind the Dodgers midway through August 1951 and are 14 behind Colorado in the NL West race as of this writing. So why does it feel like they’re dead in the water and have no shot at making the playoffs this time around?
It all began so promising for Bruce Bochy and the Giants. Coming off a postseason appearance in 2016, MLB futures odds had the Giants 12/1 to win a fourth World Series title in the last eight seasons, the same price as teams like the Houston Astros and the rival Los Angeles Dodgers. San Francisco even carried a very respectable +250 price to stop the Dodgers’ run of four consecutive NL West crowns.
Bochy Can’t Get Any Bats To Click
Many will point to Madison Bumgarner’s shoulder injury in late April as the death blow to the Giants’ chances this season. Losing the ace, who could return shortly after the All-Star break, certainly is part of the problem, but the truth is San Francisco was 0-4 in Bumgarner’s starts despite all four being quality efforts, costing bettors playing him on the MLB money lines up 6+ units.
Even without Bumgarner, the starting staff rates around the middle of the NL in ERA. The bullpen, which got off to a shaky start, sits in the upper half of the Senior Circuit in the same column and has allowed an NL-fewest 13 homers to date.The real issue has been an impotent offense that is averaging the second-fewest runs per game (3.6) and clubbed by far the fewest homers (48).
That has many thinking the Giants could be ready to wave a white flag, short of some major and fast turnaround the rest of June. Among trade targets could be pitchers Matt Cain, Matt Moore and Jeff Samardzija. For those thinking they could still turn it around, the Giants come off a 3-4 road trip to begin an interleague homestand Friday against the Twins followed by a visit from the Royals next week.
Kershaw Vs. Tribe Among Chalky Matchups Next Week
The opener of a short 2-game set between the Giants and Royals next Tuesday night will pit a pair of hurlers throwing well but not getting much respect from the oddsmakers. San Francisco’s Ty Blach is coming off a shutout and has been the underdog in three of his last four assignments in what is essentially Bumgarner’s rotation slot. Kansas City's Jason Vargas, who beat Houston on Wednesday, has been the underdog five straight starts despite a 2.18 ERA. Something has to give, and right now I’m liking Vargas as an expected small road ‘dog.
A big interleague series starts that same day when the Dodgers visit Cleveland for the first of three. Game 2 should get a lot of attention with Clayton Kershaw facing off against Trevor Bauer; expect Kershaw and the Dodgers to be chalked around -190 and for that to be part of somebody’s free baseball pick lineup at SBR.