San Francisco Giants Facing Toughest Schedule of the Season


The phrase “the dog days of August” is taking on new meaning when applied to the San Francisco Giants‘ schedule for the next four weeks. Within that span, the Giants will be playing three teams that are currently in first place in their divisions (the Astros, Cardinals, and Dodgers) and a grand total of five teams that are currently in a playoff spot (the Astros, Cardinals, Dodgers, Pirates, and Cubs). The only team that they’ll be facing this month that isn’t in a playoff position? The Washington Nationals. Oh boy.

In terms of setting themselves up for success during this stretch, the Giants did about the worst thing possible during their most recent series against the Cubs, namely getting swept in four games and dropping to 3.5 games out of a wild-card spot. They also managed to overextend their bullpen with only one of their starters going beyond four innings. That would be Jake Peavy who managed to make it into the fifth but no further in the final game of the series.

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The one upside after that series is that the Giants had a day off on Monday to regroup and hopefully put themselves in a better position for success down the road, because they are going to need all hands on deck to keep themselves in contention by the end of the month. The only other off day that the team is going to have is on August 24th when they will be arriving back in San Francisco after an east coast swing to take on the Cubs and the Cardinals at home.

In the immediate future, the Giants will be facing the sliding Astros (61-52) who are clinging to a one game lead over the Angels, followed by the Nationals (58-53) who are 1.5 games behind the Mets in the NL East. The last time the Giants played the Nationals resulted in a three game sweep in Washington to cap off a horrendous East Coast road trip that saw them lose all six games during that span.

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After that they will be on another trip out East, this time to meet up with the Cardinals (71-40) who despite losing players including Matt Holliday and Adam Wainwright to injury, still have the best record in baseball, and the surging Pirates who recently swept the Dodgers at home.

Upon returning to San Francisco, the Giants will be greeted with the wild-card rival Cubs (62-48) for a three game set, and then the Cardinals again to conclude their tour of the NL Central. After the conclusion of those difficult series they will be right off to L.A. to face, you guessed it, the Dodgers.

If the Giants want to maintain or improve their spot in the standings, these are the teams they are going to need to beat. It is a formidable test, but will most likely prove to be a telling one. Four of these teams made the playoffs last year, and the Giants beat three of them on their improbable road to their third title in five years. However the Giants will also be tested by their own roster and the injuries that just don’t seem to go away.

With Joe Panik, Andrew Susac, Mike Leake, Tim Lincecum and Tim Hudson all on the DL and with Angel Pagan struggling with a knee injury and Nori Aoki recovering from a scary hit by pitch, the Giants will need the group that they have to pull together and move forward and hope to get those players back sooner rather than later. Some more longevity from their starters not named Bumgarner would also work wonders.

While it seems like a daunting challenge, this kind of schedule can be what separates contending teams from those that don’t end up making the playoffs. It can be a proving ground or it can be a surefire way to dig the team into a hole they won’t be able to get out of. In the words of starter Jake Peavy:

"“We have a long way to go. We’re not going to panic, I can promise you that.”"

We shall see what the Giants are able to make of it. Hopefully there will be some bright spots along the way.

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