NL Wild Card: Can The Giants Challenge The Rockies? (Part 2 of 5)

Nick Tremaroli@@DU_RoxFan17Correspondent IAugust 24, 2009

For the entire season, analysts have been raving about the strength of the Giants' starting rotation.

How can they not when a team has their top two starters with the names Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain?

These guys have been baffling hitters all year. How these pitchers have lost any games is beyond me.

But with these guys anchoring a very strong pitching staff, their record is only 67-57 as of Aug. 23. You'd think that it'd be better with such a strong pitching staff.

Why are they three games behind the Rockies in the Wild Card race and six and half games behind the Dodgers in the NL West race?

Take a look:

San Francisco Giants


The Giants obviously have an extremely strong starting rotation with Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain anchoring it. But with Barry Zito and Jonathan Sanchez there supporting them at the back end of the rotation, the Giants have a very strong pitching staff.

Combined, Lincecum and Cain are 24-8, have a 2.43 ERA, have 343 strikeouts, and have pitched 355.2 innings. That is nothing to shrug off.

Both pitchers are 12-4 and have a 2.43 ERA individually. That means that when these two pitchers are set to start in the same series, the Giants can guarantee a close game that is usually won by San Francisco.

Even with injuries to Randy Johnson and Noah Lowry, this rotation is easily one of the best in baseball.

Randy Johnson was doing fairly well this season with a 4.81 ERA and a record of 8-6 through 17 games before he was injured. Clearly he is past his prime, but he was still able to win games for the Giants before he got hurt.

It is hard to say how well the Giants would be doing if it wasn't for his and Lowry's injuries. There is a good chance that, with a full rotation, the Giants would be in the wild card lead and in a position to take the NL West from the Dodgers.

Instead, the Rockies are in that position.

The Giants' bullpen is pretty good, as well.

At least the back end is with Jeremy Affeldt setting up the ninth and Brian Wilson closing out the close games.

The middle relief is not as bad as the Rockies', but it is not among the best in baseball.

But, if the Giants can get to the eighth inning with a lead, and the middle relievers have done that quite well, it is almost a guaranteed Giants win.


The Giants' offense has consistently underachieved this season. They have scored a total of 499 runs, which ranks 14th in the NL.

Compared to the Rockies' offense, that is horrid. The Rockies have scored 632 runs this year, which is good enough to be second in the NL.

This is one of the major reasons for the 67-57 record.

That doesn't seem like a bad record, but 10 games above .500 is not a good enough record to even earn the wild card.

The addition of Ryan Garko helped a lot, but one more player is not going to put a team into the playoffs.

This team must trade for a few high quality hitters if they want to become a legitimate playoff threat for years to come.

Playoff Prediction:

If this team can somehow push itself past the Rockies or the Dodgers, its championship hopes will be dashed in the first round.

Whoever they would play in the first round will have an offense that will be able to figure out Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain early enough in those games to beat the Giants.

That is a problem for the Giants, because their offense rarely puts a crooked number on the board; one bad pitch by either Lincecum or Cain, and the Giants lose.

Today's game against the Rockies exemplified that perfectly.

With Lincecum on the mound, the Giants had a 2-1 lead in the 7th until a Lincecum mistake was crushed into the second deck for a two run homer by Seth Smith. Boom. 3-2 game. The Giants ended up losing 4-2.

This would happen a lot in the playoffs because none of the teams are easy to beat. On top of that, teams step up their efforts in the playoffs, so the Giants would not stand a chance against a team like the Phillies or Cardinals in the first round.

Bottom Line:

This team is not rounded enough make the playoffs.

They have a dominating pitching staff and a flat offense. That is not a playoff team.

The only way this team will be able to make the playoffs is if the offense somehow heats up and stays hot for the rest of the season (which I really don't see happening).

If they can pick up a few good hitting veterans on waivers, they may be able to make a late push towards the playoffs. The likelihood of that happening is slim to none.

The Giants have a big assignment for the offseason: sign some big hitters.

This year is not the Year of the Giants, but next year could be.

Correction from last week: I mentioned a Rockies reliever by the name of John Daley. That was a mistake. His name is not John Daley. It is Matt Daley. I apologize for this mistake.

Next Week: Atlanta Braves


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