After covering the Athletics last week, we take a look into their foes across the bay as well as another NL Central team that is keeping their name in the mix for a playoff spot.
San Francisco Giants (50-50, T-2nd NL West, 16 GB)
The Giants are the hottest team in baseball. After making some decent ripples in free agency the past couple seasons, they have not come close to meeting their expectations. In June it looked like the Giants were going to be sellers at the deadline and acquire younger players to build up their future potential. However, the Giants have won 15 out of their last 18. That’s right. They are 15-3 since June 30th and are in contention for a Wild Card spot.
The NL Wild Card race is absolutely bananas. There are four teams all within three games, and the Nationals hold the first spot only a half game up. Come September, the Wild Card race will sure be something to keep an eye on.
The Giants have one of the worst lineups in the league. The fact they are on this run is nothing short of incredible. It’s not even as if their pitching is great either. Their pitching in ERA is ranked 15th in the majors. Sure, they have Madison Bumgarner. He’s putting together a good season. He has a 3.65 ERA and a WHIP of 1.18. Both are still higher than his career averages.
Their most impressive player is in their bullpen. Will Smith has 24 saves and 63 strikeouts over 43.1 innings pitched. Jeff Samardzija has also been having a productive season with a 4.08 ERA and a WHIP of 1.18.
When we look at their offense, there’s not a single player that sticks out from the bunch. If I had to pick a player who I thought was playing the best, it would be Kevin Pillar. The Giants acquired him earlier this season from the Blue Jays. He’s actually a pretty versatile player. We know how good he is in the field with all of the highlight plays he’s made over his career. He’s also shown he’s capable of stealing bases with eight on the year. Though he only has a .253 average, he has 12 homers and 53 RBI’s on the year both which rank 1st and 2nd respectively.
Over the weekend the Giants faced the Mets at home for a four-game series. Though the Giants were favored to win the series, the Mets’ greatest opponent is themselves. I mean holy smokes this team is hot garbage.
Anyways, the Giants had Bumgarner take the mound to face Noah Syndergaard Thursday. This game was all pitching. Noah Syndergaard pitched seven innings striking out eight and allowing just one run. On the other end MadBum pitched nine innings also allowing one run and struck out six. The score was all tied up after nine and they would have to play seven more innings before a winner was declared. Pete Alonso hit a solo bomb in the 16th to put the Mets up one. Brandon Crawford hit a game tying double to left to tie the game at two. With still no one out and the bases loaded, the Mets had five players in the infield to prevent a run from scoring. Donovan Solano snuck a ground ball past a diving Pete Alonso to walk-off and win the game 3-2.
Friday’s game was another pitching duel. Jacob deGrom pitched seven shutout frames striking out ten. His counterpart, Tyler Beede, pitched eight shutout innings striking out five while walking just one batter. The game would go to extras yet again. The Mets lost the game in the most Mets way imaginable. A pop fly was sent out to left field where Dominic Smith and Amed Rosario miscommunicated to let the ball drop in between them. With two outs the runner was going on contact. The game-winning run would score. It’s hard not to laugh.
Saturday’s affair was in favor of the Mets. They were pissed off that they embarrassed themselves the night before. The Mets hit four homers across 17 hits on the afternoon. Smith, McNeil, Frazier and Alonso all went deep. The Mets would go on to win with ease 11-4.
Sunday, the game would head to extras yet again. The game was tied up at two all the way up until the 12th inning. Mike Yastrzemski, grandson of baseball legend Carl Yastrzemski, hit one deep to left-center and over the wall to give the Giants a 3-2 victory. The Giants’ three extra innings wins this series has proven that they can win when it matters most. Keep an eye on them to see if they complete this Cinderella run and make it to the postseason.
The Giants will continue their homestand against the Cubs on Monday. Shaun Anderson is set to pitch for the Giants, and he will face Alec Mills in a very important series for both teams.
St. Louis Cardinals (51-47, 3rd Place NL Central, 2.5 GB)
The NL Central the past few years has been neck and neck the entire season. There are always at least three teams in the mix to take the division. The Cards made a big splash in free agency this past offseason by acquiring Paul Goldschmidt. The Cardinals are one of the most storied teams in baseball history, so they are never going to take off time from contending to rebuild.
Marcell Ozuna has been the team’s best player this year. Though he is dealing with a couple fractures in his finger and has been sidelined all of July so far, he still leads the team with 20 homers and 62 RBIs.
With the Cardinals lineup being one of the better ones in baseball, their rotation is very average. They have Adam Wainwright who is basically 62 years old. Dakota Hudson and Miles Mikolas have shown that they are capable of being very good pitchers, but their inconsistency often gets in the way. In their bullpen is the 22-year-old phenom Jordan Hicks. While he’s shut down for the season and part of next season while he recovers from Tommy John surgery, he is one of the most electric pitchers in the game. His fastball reaches 105 MPH and he has touched triple digits on his sinker multiple times. His control and walks have been a problem, but if he’s able to tackle that problem he can be one of the best closers in the game without question.
The Cardinals traveled to Cincinnati to take on the division rival Reds on Thursday for a four-game series. The Reds struck first, scoring three runs in the first three innings. Eugenio Suarez blasted a solo shot in the first inning for his 24th homer on the year. Paul DeJong hit a two-run homer in the 5th for the Cards to make it a one-run game before the St. Louis offense exploded for five runs in the 6th inning. Tommy Edman hit the go-ahead grand slam in the 6th to give the Cardinals the lead. They never looked back, and they won the series opener 7-4.
It was a bad day to be a pitcher on Friday night in the Queen City. Adam Wainwright was yanked in the fourth inning after giving up seven runs. The Reds would lead it 7-0 after five. In the top of the 6th, the Cardinals scored 10 runs. The Cards’ offense was slapping the ball all around the field, and a Jose Martinez three-run homer capped off the 10-run inning. Paul DeJong hit a two-run shot in the 7th to make it a 12-7 game. The Reds were able to score two runs in both the 8th and 9th inning, but they fell just short and lost 12-11. Carlos Martinez picked up his 7th save of the season.
Saturday’s game started off very slow. With no runs scored until the 6th inning, the Cardinals came through with a solo homer off the bat of Matt Weiters. The Reds followed that up with three runs of their own in the bottom half of the 7th inning including a two-run homer from Josh VanMeter. The Cardinals were only able to score one in the 8th and dropped this one 3-2.
Sunday, the Cardinals were able to strike first in the second inning with two runs crossing the plate. Jack Flaherty had a fantastic yet short outing. He struck out seven over four and a third shutout innings. He was pulled after throwing 86 pitches. Anthony DeScalfini was lights out for the Reds. He would strike out 11 batters over six innings. The Reds were only able to score once in the game and it came in the 8th inning. Carlos Martinez cashed out in his save opportunity and would secure the win for the Cardinals 3-2.
St. Louis will travel to Pittsburgh to face the Pirates on Monday. Daniel Ponce de Leon will pitch for the Cardinals against Trevor Williams and the 46-52 Pirates. With this series will come a great opportunity for the Cardinals to make ground on the Cubs, who face the hottest team in baseball in San Fran.
Waiver Wire Targets
The recent names I have given you guys for your fantasy baseball suggested pickups have been doing very well recently. Make sure you look back at my past couple blog posts to see who I’ve had on my radar and if they’re available in your league. Get them on your roster ASAP.
Alex Dickerson (5.8% owned/ ESPN)
Dickerson has been the most efficient player for the Giants as of late. Over the last week he hit .522 with an OPS of 1.435. That is absurd. He’s hitting for extra bases and he’s scoring runs. He’s one of the hottest hitters in baseball that nobody is talking about. He will for sure gain traction soon and will not be available for too long. Scoop him up before anyone else gets a chance.
Anthony DeScalfani (13.7% owned / ESPN)
I mentioned before that he had a fantastic outing against the Cardinals over the weekend. He’s somewhat inconsistent, but when he pitches well, he dominates. With a 4.12 ERA he’s doing okay in general this season. What I’m impressed with is his 105 K’s over 98.1 innings. He gets batters out and he rarely walks them. If he bounces back well in his next start, he’ll be worth a roster spot.
Retired Little League baseball utility player.