SAN FRANCISCO – The Giants have to send a thank you to their arch rivals in Los Angeles.
The season could go on for weeks, but San Francisco has already secured a playoff spot thanks to the best record in baseball.
A seat in your hand and all the time before the playoffs? This is a great opportunity to rest.
It’s also a fantastic time to lose your lead as a team – to forget how to do it – before the games really matter.
But the Giants won’t have such a problem in the remaining weeks of the season thanks to the Dodgers.
Regardless of whether you consider it fair or unfair, the reality of the situation is that, for all their successes, the Giants have only won one more game, one elimination game at that. The Dodgers – arguably the second best team in the National League – are hot on the heels of San Francisco in the National League West.
The two teams have no more games on the regular season schedule, but a bad week – maybe even a bad streak – for the Giants could turn the two squads in the table.
The Giants celebrated Monday night, but they know there’s still a lot to do and the battle between them and the Dodgers for the division crown will likely get to the point – maybe even a 163 game.
During teams how the White Sox (plus 12.5 games in the AL Central), Brewers (plus 12 in the NL Central) and Astros (plus 6.5 in the AL West) can drive to the finish line of the regular season, the Giants have on to stay at the top of their game.
San Francisco entered Wednesday’s game with the Padres with a nine-game winning streak – a necessary nine-game winning streak because of the Dodgers.
But that’s a good thing.
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Giants manager Gabe Kapler is concerned with taking the season “day by day”. Obviously it works too. But the Giants have no choice but to be « day after day » with the Dodgers on their tail.
And the concept of resting players before the playoffs? Let other teams worry about it – the Giants have been reasonable with their playing time all season, filling almost every position every day.
Brandon Crawford and Mike Yastrzemski are the only two Giants to make 500 record appearances this season. Buster Posey, Brandon Belt and LaMonte Wade have 100 more games to play this season.
As the Giants have proven over the past few weeks, tired legs are not a problem.
The Giants were also careful with their starting mugs. Kevin Gausman will lead San Francisco in innings this season but is very unlikely to throw 200 this season. And while the bullpen was used early and often, the load was distributed everywhere – with the exception of the rear end, which contains two jugs that seem impervious to both mental and arm stress, submarine jug Tyler Rogers and closer, who only throws fastballs to Jake McGee.
Yes, quiet is nice, but the Giants have been preparing – consciously or not – for October for months.
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They are also in a great position to fight on the track, despite having only carried three starting mugs in the past three weeks.
So whether the Giants win the divisional crown and can go straight to the National League Division Series with five games or whether they fall against the Dodgers and have to play in a playoff with one game on October 6th, the winner of the National League West plays strong baseball.
And isn’t it better to go into the playoffs battle-tested? Playoff baseball is a whole different beast than the regular season – I don’t want to have to find my best game before playing on the biggest stage.
No matter how the season ends, the Giants don’t have to get on their feet before their first playoff game. That gives them an edge when the playoffs begin.
Iron sharpens irons, and while the top two teams in the league playing in a league might be a burden right now, next month it could prove to be a blessing.
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