Heading into the 2016 major-league baseball playoffs, the San Francisco giants were considered one of the favorites to advance to the World Series. The Giants were fan favorites and expert picks due to their recent successes that includes winning 3 championships in the past 7 years. Their goal of winning another title seemed to get off to a great start after they won the Wild Card game in the National League Playoffs over the New York Mets. While they started off great, a recent news article (http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/page/playoffs16_nldsgame3sfchc/nlds-chicago-cubs-san-francisco-giants-mega-preview-win-game-3) has pointed out that the Giants are in a tough fight against the Chicago Cubs.
On Friday and Saturday night against the Cubs, the Giants got off to a tough start. In Game 1 of the Divisional Round of the playoffs, the Cubs ended up scoring a key run in the bottom of the 8th inning and held on to win a tight game by the score of 1-0. During Game 2, the Cubs started off quite hot and ended up winning by the score of 5-2 despite losing their starting pitcher early in the game due to injury.
After the first two games were played in Chicago, the series now has shifted to San Francisco where the Giants will host Game 3 on Monday night and potentially Game 4 on Tuesday night if the Giants are able to win on Monday. Monday night has a lot of potential to be an absolute classic matchup. The Giants will be led by Madison Bumgarner who is well regarded for being one of the best playoff pitchers of all time. The Cubs, on the other hand, will be led by Jake Arrietta who is the reigning Cy Young award winner.
If the Giants are able to get by the Cubs in Game 3, they still have a tough road ahead as they will have to win both Game 4 and Game 5 in order to advance. The winner of the series will end up facing either the Washington Nationals or the Los Angeles Dodgers in National League Championship Series.
The San Francisco Giants had the best record in all of baseball at the All-Star Break. Standing at 57-33 going into the midsummer classic, they were three games ahead of the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs, meanwhile, have continued their resurgence to potentially break the longest championships drought in all of sports at 108 years. The Giants, on the other hand, have had issues merely winning games. The Giants now stand at 80-72 locked in a three way tie with the Mets and Cardinals. That means their record since the break is 23-39. Barely winning half of their games, this collapse is starting to rival one of the greatest of all time. The Cubs, on the other hand, sit at 97-55 looking by far the most dominant team in all of baseball. The most recent team to lead the majors going into the All-Star Break and finish under .500 after the break would be the 2006 Detroit Tigers, who went 34-38. That team was barely under .500 and still made the World Series. The Giants, on the other hand, are in danger of missing the playoffs entirely. This would be unheard of.
What has contributed to such an epic collapse? Most people point their finger at the bullpen. The Giants bullpen has almost resembled a minor league patchwork of arms at times. Fans feel like it’s more likely the bullpen will blow the lead rather than somehow put a zero on the board. This lives the manager Bruce Bochy looking like a child who consumed too much sugar, rapidly moving from one arm to the next just trying to find someone who can even get outs.
This isn’t the only issue. The sheer dearth of power in the Giants’ lineup remains a major hole. Buster Posey recently endured a homeless streak that lasted over 40 games. Hunter Pence has watched his slugging percentage plummet as well. It’s difficult to win games without production from the meat of the lineup.
While this seems like a death spiral for one of the most storied franchises in sports, the Giants not only have a shot at the wild card. The Dodgers have had their own struggles. Nothing would be finer for Giants’ fans than to snatch the division from their hated rival and this is still very possible.