Today’s double-header against the Chicago Cubs will be a key point in determining if the San Francisco Giants still have hopes of a division title in 2014 but could the Wild Card be the best thing thing for the Giants to compete for going forward?
If the Giants fail to beat the Cubs in today’s suspended make-up game, they will fall four games back of Los Angeles, with just over a month remaining in the season. To overcome a lead of four games or more at this point, the Giants would not only have to rely on playing their best ball down the stretch but also count on the Dodgers falling by the wayside.
By no means is this out of the realm of possibility but their have been so signs of either happening on the horizon. Basically, the Giants no longer control their own destiny in the NL West if they continue to hover around at four games back. However, San Francisco remains firmly in control of their destiny as an NL Wild Card contender and that cannot be overlooked.
The San Francisco Giants have won their past two World Series as NL West champs but fighting for a Wild Card spot could not only prep San Francisco for a deep run in October but also, at the very least, prove who belongs with this ball club going forward.
Division leaders like Los Angeles and Washington may begin to coast and lose continuity as the season winds down, especially if their leads increase. Wild Card hopefuls, on the other hand, have to keep the petal to the metal till the very end. With health no longer an excuse, Giants’ fans have no reason not to expect to a team that competes for the final Wild Card spot.
Even if the Giants fail to secure at least a wild card birth, the battle for one down the stretch will help define what this team is really about and how it may need to be changed going forward. 2014 has been a tale of two teams for San Francisco and at the very least the Wild Card race will help determine the true identity of this Giants team.
After starting 42-21 and showing signs of being a true World Series threat, the Giants have gone 23-37 since, surrendering a total of 13 games in the NL West. It’s a bitter pill to swallow going from a World Series hopeful to a Wild Card contender but considering how far San Francisco has fallen this season, at least they still have something to compete for.
While a division title would still be a major accomplishment for the Giants in 2014, that accomplishment would likely go hand in hand with a Dodger’s collapse and would tell us more about them then it would tell us about the Giants.
With a offseason full of tough decisions ahead for the Giants front office, how the team fairs in the wild card race will heavily influence how this club will look in the future. The performance of, Michael Morse, Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt, among others, down the stretch will give the Giants an idea of their worth to the team going forward. Securing a Wild Card spot could at least spare the Giants’ front office from hitting the reset button on the club in the offseason.