After two consecutive games in which the San Francisco Giants got seven shutout innings from their starting pitchers and lost, they seem to be officially out of the playoff hunt. They are now a game under .500 and 6.5 games out of first place in the NL West with the rest of the division yet to play. A month ago, the Giants were within striking distance of first and could smell the second wild card spot. Now I can safely say with some degree of certainty that this 2018 iteration of the Giants was a very meh baseball team and got incredibly lucky in some games and now the ball has stopped bouncing their way. Even year magic is dead.
If you did not get the pleasure of watching the two games against the Astros, I will do my best to describe them. They were both remarkably similar, as in both games the Giants starting pitchers, Dereck Rodriguez and Madison Bumgarner, fired seven convincing shutout innings. Rodriguez arguably did not throw a single stress pitch his entire start and Bumgarner asserted his usual dominance with men on base. The Giants scored just a single run in both games; Game 1’s run was scored on a Brandon Crawford line drive slightly over the right field wall and Game 2’s was a Chase D’arnaud single through the right side, who had to leave the game after fouling a ball off his knee in true 2018 Giants fashion. Mustering a single run for a starting pitcher is not enough for most pitchers; however, the Giants did a good job making fans feel like a win was coming.
Suddenly, victory was snatched away by the jaws of defeat in the late innings. Game 1 gave me the most hope, as there was actually two outs in the ninth before Will Smith, who had struggled with control which I attribute to him not being able to get loose due to the Giants’ four pitch bottom of the eighth, served a fastball on a silver platter to Marwin Gonzalez and he proceeded to crush it deep into the night for a three-run homerun. How did you two runners get on, you ask? Walks, of course! The next afternoon, Ray Black, who I now say is victim to the first ever article jinx, rode his fastball a little too hard and Tyler White turned on a 99 mph fastball for a two run homer. Just like that, a series sweep turned into a being swept and I for one, think that is pretty impressive.
What is the next move for the Giants now? They are clearly not good enough to make the playoffs after this two game debacle and the previous series against the Arizona Diamondbacks in which they also blew a couple games they could have easily won. The starting rotation is banged up and the rookie starters Andrew Suarez and Dereck Rodriguez are going to hit innings limits at some point. The lineup is old, relatively expensive, and also hurt. The bullpen is actually pretty good, but have not been pitching well at all recently. All of this and the Giants have stated repeatedly that they will try to stay under the luxury tax at any cost. Here is what I predict:
- Andrew McCutchen will be floated over waivers and some contending team will claim him who needs an outfielder for the stretch run. My best guess and most ironic destination would actually be the Pittsburgh Pirates, but I would not rule out teams like the Cleveland Indians and the New York Yankees. The return would be pretty similar to the Eduardo Nuñez deal, so one mid tier prospect or two low floor-high ceiling guys.
- Sam Dyson, who is one of the most expensive relievers on the team, will probably also be moved in the August trade period. Dyson, who has recovered nicely after a little blip when he was the “closer”, will have a good amount of value to a contending team. I expect a similar return for him as the McCutchen deal.
- Prospects and young players like Mac Williamson, Austin Slater, Steven Duggar, Chris Shaw, or basically any player at Double-A or Triple-A the Giants want to see at the big league level will be given heavy run. Much like last year (people forget that Ryder Jones played 53 (!!) games at the big league level), these players will get to prove if they have any worth on the MLB roster and potentially be used as showcases for potential off season trades.
- Finally, I predict the Giants to have maybe one last winning hurrah, showing fans the potential that this fun team had and will always keep us wondering what might have been.
By no means am I declaring the Giants dead. They still are significantly closer than they were last year and it seems like every time the Giants get cold they seem to go back on a hot streak. However, after two consecutive losses that really felt like backbreakers, it’s very hard for me to believe they can rebound. Rest In Peace, Even Year Magic, 2010-2018.