As the 2010 Regular Season is drawing to a close, the National League Wild Card Hunt begins in earnest.
The San Francisco Giants have been trying to catch the division leading Padres all season, without success.
Up for grabs is the NL Wild Card, and there is a host of very strong teams competing for this post season pass.
Do the Giants have what it takes to beat out the rest of the clubs and claim the NL Wild Card for playoff berth?
The Mighty Phillies. This club still thinks they can overtake the Atlanta Braves to win their fourth straight NL East division title.
And they may not be wrong in thinking that. Whether or not they can catch the Braves, they will be a force to reckon with down the stretch for the Giants.
Roy Halladay is flat out dealing. Oswalt is happy to be there. Ryan Howard is back. And with Victorino, Blanton, Werth—to name a few (seriously, just a few) the Phillies have a very potent recipe for making a post season run.
The last meeting against the Giants, Phillies won two of three in Philadelpha.
Currently, they are tied for NL Wild Card with San Francisco.
If the Giants had a run for every time the lead for the NL Central swapped between the Cincinnati Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals, they sure wouldn't have to worry about the Padres.
Just when it looked like La Russa's Cardinals were floundering, the Giants came to town. The Cardinal's lost 5 straight until Carpenter shut down the Giants, giving the club new life.
The Cardinals went on to win the series. Other than Albert Pujols, the Cardinals offense has underachieved somewhat.
Like the Giants, the Cardinals will have to rely heavily on starting pitching to make the post season. Carpenter and Wainwright are studs, and with a budding ace in Jaime Garcia—look out San Francisco.
In the last meeting against the Giants, the Cardinals took two of three in St. Louis.
They are currently 2.5 games out of the NL Central lead, and 1.0 game behind the Giants and Phillies in the Wild Card hunt.
Dusty Baker will forever be attached to the Giants Legacy. He led the Giants to the World Series in 2002 and just fell short.
Some of us haven't moved on, but you can bet your bottom dollar Dusty has.
His Reds have been in a flat out dog fight, literally, with St. Louis for the NL Central division crown. One of these two teams will take the division, the other will make the race seriously difficult for the Giants.
Joey Votto is well on his way to winning the NL Batting title. Bronson Arroyo has been the workhouse on the staff. Francisco Cordero is still shutting out the lights and sending everyone home.
In their last meeting against Giants, the Giants won two of three.
They are currently leading NL Central divsion.
Being five games out of the Wild Card, with about 30 games left to play—expect the Rockies to make a push and get into serious contention again.
The Rockies have made a name for themselves by finishing seasons white hot in the last few years.
If Ubaldo Jimenez continues to tighten up and improve on his amazing first half, Colorado is not done. Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki and Todd Helton are very capable of catching fire at any time.
The Rockies definitely have players capable of putting it together, will there be enough time?
In their last meeting against Giants, split one of two in Colorado.
They are currently 5.0 games back of the NL Wild Card.
For the most part, the Giants have played very good baseball this year.
For stretches in the first half, we saw a very well balanced team, and they could shut down opposing hitters. They could also get on base and drive in runs.
But in late in July, we started getting this Jekyl and Hyde type of club. The starting rotation began to fail.
Tim Lincecum has been stringing together consecutive losses and has obviously lost his mechanics.
Barry Zito has all but reverted back to his incapable ways of seasons past.
Pablo Sandoval fell into an early slump that made everyone worry if he would ever regain his brilliance. Freddie Sanchez dropped a very respectable average to .260.
The outlook was grim. The team seemed to look like it went flat at the most crucial time of year.
Several things have to happen for the Giants emerge as the NL Wild Card playoff team. Some of these are just starting to happen:
Pablo Sandoval has caught fire again; smiling and hitting the ball over the fence.
Freddie Sanchez has seemed to get his stroke back as well, going deep on 8/24 and stringing together multiple three-plus hit games.
The offense has struggled at times, but with some recent acquisitions, they are a very credible line up.
The starting rotation is absolutely crucial to the Giants success if they are to stay in contention and actually win the Wild Card. No matter how well the offense does, the pitching must not fail.
NL Wild Card standings through 8/24/2010
1. Phildephia 1. San Francisco 2. St. Louis 1.5 GB 3. Colorado 5.0 GB