Plagued by injuries and overall inconsistent play, this season has been filled with adversity for the San Francisco Giants. However, they still remain very much in the hunt for the NL West title sitting just 2.5 games back of the Dodgers but what needs to happen in order for the Giants to win the West?
The first key is no secret. When fully healthy, the Giants have shown themselves to be one of the NL’s best teams. Scattered injuries to Angel Pagan, Brandon Belt and Marco Scutaro have kept the Giants from being able to establish any sort of consistency in their line-up, while also putting stress on an already thin bench.
It is unlikely Scutaro will return to an everyday roll for the ball club this season but the Giants must have both a healthy Belt and Pagan in the lineup, on a consistent basis if they are going to have any chance of winning the West. Belt returned to the lineup on August 2 and the Giants hope to have Pagan back in the lineup as early as Thursday, according to reports. Fortunately for the Giants, in a season as long as Major League Baseball’s, it could just be a matter of getting healthy at the right time.
In addition, the loss of Matt Cain for the rest of the season makes the performance of Jake Peavy even more important for the Giants going forward. Peavy took a perfect game into the seventh inning in his last start against New York, before surrendering fours runs, ultimately earning him the loss. He has yet to earn a win in his first two starts and that has to change in order for the Giants to win the West.
Next the Giants have to start playing better at home. San Francisco is 29-30 at home in 2014, compared to a phenomenal 32-22 record on the road. The Giants currently hold the record for most consecutive sell outs but the amazing atmosphere at AT&T Park has not resulted in any sort of home field advantage for San Francisco this season.
Both the 2010 and 2012 World Series teams had a record of 15 games above five-hundred at home and a minimum winning percentage of .593. This years Giants are only winning 49 percent of their games at home. Without a significant improvement in their play at home the Giants will not have what it takes to win the West. With 22 of their remaining 48 remaining games to be played at AT&T Park, the Giants will have plenty of opportunity to reverse their fortunes at home.
Perhaps the most important thing that needs to happen for the Giants to win the West is out of their hands. The Dodgers have yet to really separate themselves from the Giants, despite their struggles. After sweeping San Francisco and Atlanta, the Dodgers lost two of three to the mediocre Chicago Cubs. Meanwhile the Giants bounced back winning three of four against the Mets. If the Dodgers are unable to beat lesser competition, they are leaving the door wide open for the Giants. Nine of the Dodgers remaining 15 series are against teams with a five-hundred record or worse.
The Giants have managed to overcome a great deal of adversity this season, all while managing to stay in good position for a second half surge to win the West. With a healthy Pagan and Belt in the lineup, an improved record at home, and a little help from the Dodgers, the Giants will ultimately win the West and the struggles of this season will be a distant memory.