Tag Archives: San Francisco Giants

Who will be the Best in the West?

The National League West has been dominated the past four years by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Is 2017 the year they relinquish the title, or are they built to make a run at a fifth consecutive divisional championship?

  1. San Francisco Giants 92-70
  2. Los Angeles Dodgers 90-72
  3. Colorado Rockies 83-79
  4. Arizona Diamondbacks 77-85
  5. San Diego Padres 69-93
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2017 is going to shake up the National League West, and the San Francisco Giants are poised to be the ones to do it. In 2016 the Giants got off to a red-hot start going 57-33 before the all-star break. Unfortunately, injuries up and down the roster crippled the Giants chances of riding that momentum into the second half of the year. Their bullpen also did not help their cause, as they were one of the worst bullpens in the entire MLB.

On the bright side, the Giants spent their offseason focusing on the bullpen. They were able to sign veteran, Mark Melancon, to a hefty contract, as the new closer on the team. On top of that, the Giants have a top-notch pitching staff, headed by Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto. Historically, both of these pitchers have stayed healthy and continue to dominate their opponents even as they progress in age. If the Giants can finish out the season the way they started it in 2016, then they should have no problem competing against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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The Dodgers have superstars up and down their roster, but never seem to take it anywhere further than the first or second round of the playoffs. This year they will have to hope for a wildcard spot. In the offseason, the Dodgers were able to retain both Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner. Jansen is the anchor of the Dodgers bullpen and was a huge reason why the Dodgers were the divisional champions in 2016. Turner adds some meat to the lineup, after having a career year, notching 27 home runs and tallying 90 RBIs.

It’s hard to talk about the Dodgers without mentioning the game’s best pitcher, Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw is coming off a year full of injuries. If he can return at full strength, then the Dodgers have a fighting chance. After Kershaw in the rotation, I don’t see much help. Kershaw is going to have to put this team on his shoulders if they want to compete for a championship.

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Moving away from the Giants and Dodgers, the rest of the division doesn’t impress me much. In third place I have the Rockies. The thin air of Colorado will certainly be helpful to their lineup as they have one of the best 3-4-5 combinations in the league, with Carlos Gonzalez, Nolan Arenado, and Ian Desmond. Unfortunately for fans of the Rockies, pitching wins championships, and the Rockies lack that tremendously. Their lineup can only take them so far and to me, that’s third place in this division.

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The Diamondbacks may have been the most disappointing team in 2016. After going out and signing Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller to mammoth contracts, the Diamondbacks only won 69 games. The Diamondbacks are in a rebuilding stage so don’t expect them to be good for a while.

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The same goes for the San Diego Padres. The Padres will not be good anytime soon so it isn’t even worth talking about them.

The Giants are the team to watch out for this upcoming season, but don’t count out the Dodgers. This division will be one to keep an eye out for if you love a close divisional race.

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Who Will Play On in the Playoffs?

Alright baseball fans the time has finally come. The 2016 playoffs are here, so buckle your seatbelts and get ready for the gut-wrenching twists and turns you are about to endure.

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Game 163 starts Tuesday with the two American League Wild Card winners, the Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays. The Jays and Orioles have been neck and neck all year, fighting for the American League East title. Both squads ended the regular season with 89-73 records and rely mainly on the long-ball to win games. The orioles compiled 253 home runs, leading all the majors, but the Jays were not far behind, ranking 4th with 221. When I look at these two teams I don’t see many differences. Their rotations lack depth but have been carried strictly by their bats. This is why I am so intrigued by this matchup. Same record and same in game strategies leads me to believe this game will be one for the ages. With all that being said, I believe the Blue Jays have what it takes to make it into the next round. Home field advantage and last years’ experience in the playoffs will carry this team to Arlington where they will meet American League’s best team, the Texas Rangers.

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If the Orioles and the Jays weren’t enough to get your blood pumping, we have the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants meeting up in the National League Wild Card game. The Giants and Mets will be facing off in a pitcher’s duel with Maddison Bumgarner and Noah Syndergaard taking the hill for their respective teams. This game will be polar opposite to the Orioles and Jays game played on Tuesday. The runs will be scarce but the strikeouts certainly won’t be. Both Syndergaard and Bumgarner are two of the best at their crafts. Bumgarner has shown his playoff dominance in the past and I believe he is well equipped to show off what he has again. I’m taking the Giants in this game simply because of Bumgarner’s playoff history. When the lights get bright in October, Bumgarner never backs down. It distinguishes him from everybody else. Instead of shrinking in the moment he shines and plays like a giant.

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The Indians and Red Sox kick off their series on Thursday Night for the first game of the ALDS. This series would have been way more interesting to me a couple months back. Unfortunately for the Indians, they have caught the injury bug at the most inopportune time. The Tribe lost stud pitchers Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco to season ending injuries and reining Cy Young Award winning pitcher Corey Kluber has been hampered by a calf strain the past month. The pitching for the Indians has dramatically fallen off due to those injuries. If those players were healthy I would not be surprised to see the Indians move onto the ALCS. Fortunately for the Sox I believe their team is deeper and offensively superior. The Fighting Francona’s are no slouches but I believe the Sox take the series in 5 games.

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Moving on to the NLDS, we have the Los Angeles Dodgers taking on the Washington Nationals. Make sure to keep an eye on this matchup. Both the Nationals and the Dodgers have strong pitching staffs. The Nats will be throwing Max Sherzer, Stephen Strasberg, and Gio Gonzalez, while the Dodgers plan on pitching Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, and Kenta Maeda. If we go strictly by the pitching matchups, the Nats have the upper hand. This is exactly why the Nationals are going to win this series. Pitching is everything in the playoffs. You win and die by your pitchers. This will be a very quick series, with the Nationals ending the Dodgers hopes to make the NLCS.

The playoffs are a whole new beast. Players shine under the lights while some fold under the pressure. Get your popcorn ready because this is about to get intense.

Nostradamus at it Again

The first week of the 2016 season has come to a close and boy, has it created some buzz. Some teams are off to a hot start, while others have been surprisingly slow out of the gates. Fortunately for those teams struggling, there is plenty of time to catch up in the standings. Last week, I promised my National League predictions, so let’s get started.

National League East

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After the top two teams in the NL East, there is a huge void in talent. The Washington Nationals and the New York Mets are the clear favorites to compete for the N.L. East title. The Mets were the kings of the National League last year after defeating the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS, ultimately losing to the Kansas City Royals in the World Series. Last year, the Nationals traded in their bats for golf clubs much earlier than they had hoped. The Nats have an array of talented players, led by the 2015 Most Valuable Player, Bryce Harper, and former Cy Young Award winner, Max Scherzer. Are the Nationals poised to take down the Mets? Time will soon tell.

My prediction:

New York Mets 95-67

Washington Nationals 93-69

Miami Marlins 70-92

Philadelphia Phillies 66-96

Atlanta Braves 62-100

After the Mets and Nationals, the rest of the NL East is an absolute joke. I have the Mets barely taking home the title for a second consecutive year. I believe the Nationals will improve from last year and make the playoffs, playing in a Wild Card game. The Mets have a deep pitching rotation, led by Matt Harvey, Jake deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard. The rotation gives the Mets a leg up on the rest of their competition, leading to their 7th N.L. East title.

National League Central

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The N.L. Central is going to be one of the most interesting divisions to watch in 2016. The Cubbies, Pirates, and Cardinals all made the playoffs last year and could be equipped to have even better seasons this year. This division is up for grabs and will be fun to see who ranks superior.

My prediction:

Chicago Cubs 94-68

Pittsburg Pirates 92-70

St. Louis Cardinals 90-72

Cincinnati Reds 82-80

Milwaukee Brewers 74-88

The Cubs suffered a huge setback this week with the loss of their slugger, Kyle Schwarber. The big lefty tore his ACL and LCL in his left knee after a horrific collision with Center Fielder, Dexter Fowler.  This is a huge loss for the defending N.L. Central Champions. Even with the loss of Schwarber, the Cubbies have an extremely deep roster as well as a fantastic pitching staff that can take them well into the playoffs. Following the Cubs, I have the Pirates beating out the Cardinals for the second Wild Card spot in the National League. I love this team’s athleticism and will-to-win. The Pirates seem to always be in contention late into September and this year will be no different.

National League West

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The National League West was shaken up this offseason with many free agent signings. The Arizona Diamondbacks made the biggest splash, picking up the 2015 Cy Young Award winner, Zack Greinke. The San Francisco Giants made their push for another arm in their rotation, when they picked up Johnny Cueto from free agency. Adding a second ace to that rotation may be what the Giants need to get back on top of the National League West.

My prediction:

San Francisco Giants 95-67

Las Angeles Dodgers 90-72

Arizona Diamondbacks 83-79

San Diego Padres 79-83

Colorado Rockies 78-84

Lately, this division has been run by the Dodgers, winning the past three years in a row. This year is going to be different. Like I stated before, the Giants picked up Johnny Cueto and already have an ace in Maddison Bumgarner, who will be toeing the rubber every fifth day. The addition of Cueto, gives the Giants one of the best one-two combinations in the league. They also acquired Jeff Samardjiza as their number three in the rotation. I LOVE this pitching staff and I think it’s going to take them far into the playoffs. I have the Dodgers placing second in the highly competitive N.L. West. The Dodgers still have a great team, but did nothing to improve during the offseason. In fact, they lost their stud pitcher, Zack Greinke to their divisional foes. After the Giants and Dodgers, I don’t see any other teams putting up a fight to contend. The Diamondbacks did get much better with the acquisitions of Greinke and RHP Shelby Miller, but I don’t believe those moves can propel them past mediocrity.

The race to be National League Champions is going to be one to keep an eye on. Looking at this year’s rosters, I would not be surprised to see the Chicago Cubs beating the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS. The road to the World Series is a long one, but the Cubs have the tools necessary to finally reverse their 106 year curse.

Wild N.L. West

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Late last week, I was raving about how the Diamondbacks are making moves to win now with the signings of pitchers, Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller. But I forgot about what the 2016 season means…

An even year. Which means the San Francisco Giants are going to win the World Series. It’s only appropriate to give them the trophy now, right? I mean come on, they have won the World Series the past three even years (2010, 2012, and 2014) and after the moves they have made lately, you wouldn’t be crazy if you made them the early favorites to win the N.L. West.

Earlier last week, the Giants agreed to terms with right handed pitcher, Jeff Samardzija with a 5 year contract worth 90 million bucks. A couple days later, Johnny Cueto signed with the Giants as well with a 6 year contract worth 130 million dollars. These two deals alone make the Giants  contenders yet again.

The 2015 season for the Giants was a disappointing one. They finished with an 84-78 record and failed to make the playoffs. If other teams finished the season like the Giants did, they would think it would be a successful one. But with the Giants’ résumé being the way it is, if you don’t make the playoffs and contend for a championship, you have failed.

With the 2016 season around the corner, Giants knew that they had to make improvements. They already have their ace in postseason legend Madison Bumgarner, but why not put a little more depth to the rotation with the additions of Samardzija and Cueto. So having those three work horses carrying the load at the top of the rotation, the Giants also have veteran, Matt Cain. Cain, who hasn’t plugged in 100 innings the past two seasons due to injuries with his right elbow and forearm, wants to show that he can still help this team contend. Cain was once a top of the rotation pitcher. He even has a perfect game under his belt. If he can go out there every fifth day and give them a quality start, he will just make this team ten times more dangerous. They also have Chris Heston and Jake Peavy fighting for those last two spots, along with Cain. Heston had an on and off year finishing with a record of 12-11 and an E.R.A of 3.95. His no-hitter was the highlight of last season, but showing inconsistency and  having his E.R.A being close to four, I would see him being the number 5 starter at best. With Peavy, the intense veteran who seems to go crazy on the mound, finished last season with an 8-6 record and an E.R.A of 3.58. Peavy, like Cain, was on the DL for a chunk of last season and hopes to turn it around.

Having the Giants ready to bring it in 2016, the Dodgers hope to do the same thing. But after losing Zack Greinke in free agency and then agreeing to terms with pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma, but potentially losing him after a failed physical, they’re asking their ace, Clayton Kershaw, to do a lot for them next season. The Dodgers have been contenders for the past couple of seasons now, but if they can’t fix the rotation, L.A. may have problem.

With the Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres being in re-build mode, the Arizona Diamondbacks may have me eating my words. A couple of articles ago, I said that the Giants and Dodgers would be fighting for the N.L. West crown. But after what has been happening in L.A., the D-Backs may have a chance.

As the weather gets cooler and the ball drops to celebrate the new year, it is still too early to predict anything. But as of right now, the Giants just made a statement with these two deals. Like I said earlier, knowing it is going to be an even year, they should feel pretty confident with their upcoming season.