Possibly the last hit by Pando in July (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
The Giants have been consistent this season, with a winning record in every month. They have beaten the Dodgers four of six games. They are 11 - 8 in July. They have been in first place for 27 days. They are 31 - 17 at home. Enough of the bad news, lets look at something that has not gone right.
We looked at the Giants about one month ago, at the time it was noted that Brandon Belt was supposed to become the everyday first baseman and provide some much needed offense. Instead of providing offense, Belt was offensive.
The Giants are in first place but that is in spite of Brandon Belt not because of him. Since June 25th when I wrote the preview the highly touted Belt has probably been the worst hitter in baseball. 24 games, 14 starts, 73 plate appearances, 10 hits, 4 xbh, zero home runs, and an incredible OPS of .464. Also 26 K's. Not exactly the stuff of savior material.
So who knows who will play 1st base this series. Pablo Sandoval was playing 1st on Tuesday Night when he pulled a hammy, thus allowing Belt to get back into the lineup on Wednesday.
2nd will be the domain of Ryan Theriot, who is having a hot July (.812 OPS)
SS is still Brandon Crawford who has improved every month this season. OPS by month - .559 / .583 / .690 / .705. Nice progression for the young shortstop.
Pablo Sandoval is kind of in limbo. I heard they will decide today whether or not to put him on the Dl. If they do then expect to see either Joaquin Arias or Emmanuel Burriss man 3rd base. Even if they don't put Panda on the DL, it is questionable that we will see Pando this weekend.
Nate Schierholtz seems to have regained his status of the mostly everyday right fielder, starting five of the last six games. When he's not playing the speedy Gregor Blanco gets the call. Since they are both left handed can't say I have a clue as why one plays and the other does not. Mix and Match. Blanco peaked on June 9th and kind of what we predicted on June 25th has been in free fall with an OPS of .555 during that 35 game span.
Left fielder Melky Cabrera seemed to be falling back to earth in June, but has bounced back in July and continues to provide a seasonal OPS north of .900. No one in baseball has probably done more to make more money based on their 2012 season then Melky. Perfect timing as he hits his free agent year at the age of 28 following his career season.
Angel Pagan is Angel Pagan
The backend of the bullpen has been a bit of a mess as Santiago Casilla has been having a tough time closing out games. July - Stats Stats Stats - what can I say, Casilla has a k/9 rate of 16, has a xFIP 2.32, a three to one strike out to walk ratio. But in the real world he has an ERA of 5.14 and Giant fans be unhappy. Meanwhile Sergio Romo has K/9 Rate of 6.48, a xFIP of 4.65, but in the real world has given up ZERO runs in July, so of course many want Romo to become the closer.
Even with Lincecum struggling the Giants still have plenty of pitching. I'm giving the Giants game one, giving us the edge in game two, and game three would be a good time for Kershaw to do what he was so good at doing last year against the Giants. It may not be imperative to win two out of three this weekend but it sure would help the cause. They cannot be swept. It may not seem like much but six games back heading into August is a tough road. As many have noted the division means so much more now that the wild cards have been reduced to one game playoffs.
Both teams will probably make some moves to improve before July 31st. August would be a good time for the Giants to have their first losing month.