San Francisco Giants, Mercifully, Have Been Officially Eliminated


The San Francisco Giants have spent the better part of the last month on life support. Trailing the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West by a margin that exceeded a half-dozen game on most days, the Giants’ pulse had weakened and their breathing had slowed. With an IV in their veins and tubes in their nose, the Giants’ days were numbered.

Mercifully, the plug was pulled on the Giants’ postseason hopes, officially, on Tuesday night, and the slow, rhythmic beeping of the heart monitor became a single, elongated note. The scrappy, “never say die, don’t stop believing” Giants had finally flatlined. The worst part is that the Giants lost with their ace Madison Bumgarner on the mound.

They didn’t go easily. Over the weekend, the Giants took two of three from their rivals across the Bay, the Oakland Athletics, while the Dodgers were swept by the Colorado Rockies. Entering the current four-game set with the Dodgers, the Giants were six games back with seven to play, putting the Dodgers’ magic number to clinch at just two. One Dodgers’ win would put the kibbosh on the Giants’ season.

In game one, Zack Greinke, who had never lost to the Giants in nine starts, took the mound, but the Dodgers couldn’t overcome the scrappiness of the Giants. San Francisco took game one in 12 innings, living to fight another day. They never stopped fighting. Even when the odds seemed insurmountable, the Giants dug in their heels and pushed back as hard as they could. In the end, they just didn’t have enough manpower.

Over the course of this grueling, six-month campaign, the Giants had lost too much blood to overcome. Hunter Pence, Joe Panik, Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt, Nori Aoki, Angel Pagan, the list of players who missed extended time goes on and on. The front office tried to offset those losses with transplants, bringing in new blood to attempt to make up for the blood spilled. The late-August acquisitions of Marlon Byrd and Alejandro De Aza were simply not enough, as the Giants continued to announce a new injury seemingly every day.

The loss of at least five starters on most days was simply too much to overcome. Compound that with the fact that many of their replacements, like Andrew Susac, Hector Sanchez, Ehire Adrianza, and Juan Perez were hurt themselves, the Giants were attempting to stay afloat with lineups that were more suitable for Spring Training split-squad games, rather than a late-September playoff push. A lineup that, almost every day over the final month, included at least four players who didn’t even begin the season on the Giants’ 40-man roster just didn’t stand a chance.

Despite expanded rosters, there was no depth to speak of for the Giants. Players who were supposed to be on the bench were either in the starting lineup, or on the sidelines, dealing with their own injury issues. By the end of the season, the Giants were using Trevor Brown, the fifth-string catcher, on most days.

The bench consisted of three players who were pulled straight from the past, as Jackson Williams, Nick Noonan, and Kevin Frandsen were the backup plans. Each of those three players were former Giants (majors or minors), left the organization, and returned during 2015. They were accompanied by Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson, two outfield prospects who aren’t capable of carrying a team at this point on their newborn Major League careers.

With their postseason hopes finally, one-hundred percent certain, dead, the Giants can really start looking towards 2016. They should already have a plan formulated for free agency, and it should be obvious to anyone who has paid close attention to them this season. The Giants need starting pitching behind their ridiculously talented left-hander Bumgarner.

Too often, a good offensive effort was wasted because the starting pitching faltered. As a result, the bullpen became overworked because they were tasked with pitching extra duty following short starts from the man who began the game. By the end of September, the Giants’ core of relievers looked downright exhausted. The short starts took their toll on every pitcher, and that is something that certainly needs to be addressed in the offseason.

The Giants can also take this opportunity to get a quick, close look at some players who could make some noise in the coming season, namely the two young outfielders, Parker and Williamson. This last handful of games should act as a short, initial audition for 2016, before the extended tryout during next Spring Training. This stretch will also be instrumental towards determining if the Giants plan to bring Marlon Byrd back next year, as he is excruciatingly close to vesting his $8 million option for next season.

Fear not, downtrodden Giants’ fan. For the time being, the fanbase can take solace in the fact that, until someone throws the final pitch of the 2015 season, the Giants are still defending World Series champions, even though they don’t have the chance to defend any further. Solace can also taken with the knowledge that the future is extremely bright, with core players like Buster Posey, Joe Panik, Brandon Crawford, and Matt Duffy, just to name a few, returning in 2016, and players like Josh Osich, Hunter Strickland, and Kelby Tomlinson continuing to grow.

For now, we can watch these last few games without the sense of urgency that filled us over the course of most of September and August. Kick your feet up, pick out your beverage of choice, and enjoy what little baseball we have left.

And to the San Francisco Giants, who gave it their all and then some after that, we say thank you.