Nearly one year ago to the day, the San Francisco Giants went into a weekend series against the Cincinnati Reds with a comfortable lead in the National League West, and the newly-acquired Carlos Beltran in the fold to fortify the offense. Alas, that weekend series was the beginning of the end, as the Giants were swept by the Reds, and Beltran went down with a wrist injury shortly thereafter.
The showdown out west between the Giants and Dodgers this weekend has a chance to be a turning point this season. The Dodgers made a big splash this week by acquiring Hanley Ramirez from the Miami Marlins, and rumors are swirling that the Dodgers will soon upgrade their rotation as well.
The Dodgers trail the Giants by 2.5 games, but momentum is on their side. The Giants may be without Pablo Sandoval this weekend as he attempts to avoid the disabled list with a hamstring strain. Meanwhile, Tim Lincecum was lit up again on Wednesday after two promising starts to begin the second half. His ERA is now a National League worst 5.88 after his latest debacle.
The Giants may also make a change at first base this weekend as Brandon Belt is mired in a 7-for-51 slump in July with 22 strikeouts and no home runs.
The Dodgers are third in the National League with a 3.32 ERA, slightly ahead of the Giants (3.45 ERA, fourth best in the NL). With the pitching staff's fairly even, let's break down the starting eight for both squads.