Coming off a 98-loss season in 2017, the Giants behaved like contenders this past offseason. Given their baseline that seemed like a strange decision, but given their preternatural reluctance to rebuild it didn't seem strange at all.
For a while, it looked like it might work. On July 1, they were five games over .500, and as recently as Aug. 14 they were in the black. That said, their declining fortunes prompted them to trade Andrew McCutchen to the Yankees, and around that same time Buster Posey underwent season-ending hip surgery. At present, the SportsLine Projection Model (@SportsLine on Twitter) gives them a zero percent chance of making the postseason. In related matters, they've lost eight in a row at this writing.
So what's ahead for the Giants? What's ahead is the chance to spoiler on multiple playoff fronts. Here's a look at their remaining schedule:
- Sept. 10-12: Atlanta
- Sept. 14-15: Colorado
- Sept. 17-17: at San Diego
- Sept. 21-23: at. St. Louis
- Sept. 24-26: San Diego
- Sept. 28-30: L.A. Dodgers
Of the six remaining series, four come against teams with designs on the postseason. The Braves are attempting to fend off the Phillies in the NL East (Atlanta has a solid 4 1/2-game lead going into Monday's slate, but the Phils have an easier remaining schedule). The Rockies narrowly lead the Dodgers in the NL West, and the runner-up (and potentially the third-place team) in that division will be in the wild-card mix. As well, the Cardinals are clinging to the second NL wild-card spot and are still alive in the NL Central race. Given the tight margins, the Giants have ample opportunity to affect the NL playoff races -- and in a sense, they already affected it in getting swept by the Brewers.
SportsLine expects the Giants to play .452 ball over the remainder of the season. They've won at a .472 clip to date, but the roster's been weakened a bit and as seen above the remaining schedule isn't all that accommodating. So that makes sense. The expectation, of course, is that the Giants will lose those series, but baseball of course has a great deal of built-in parity and randomness.
As for ace Madison Bumgarner, if they go in order through the rotation then he'll start on Sept. 15 against the Rockies, on Sept. 21 against the Cardinals, and Sept. 26 against the Padres. Maybe, though, if the Dodgers are still battling for a playoff spot going into that final series of the regular season, they'd push Bumgarner back a day in order to take their best shot at their longtime rivals.
Whatever the case, the Giants, one might argue, are the most important non-contender down the stretch thanks to the way the schedule lays out. To what extent they take care of business against those playoff hopefuls will help shape the playoff field for 2018. That's cold comfort for San Fran, yes, but the possibility of sticking it to the Dodgers will always be worth something to Giants rooters.