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Dodgers & Giants find themselves in unfamiliar positions in the NL West

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San Francisco Giants v Colorado Rockies Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The Dodgers and Giants meet for the first time in 2017 with a four-game series starting Monday night at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Both teams are reeling, and find themselves looking up in the National League West standings.

Both Los Angeles (9-10) and San Francisco (6-13) enter Monday under .500, in third and fifth place, respectively in a division they have owned of late. San Francisco has the worst record in the National League, off to their worst start since 1983.

The Giants have lost six of their last seven games, and the Dodgers lost five of six before escaping Arizona with a win on Sunday afternoon.

This is the first time the Dodgers and Giants have faced each other each with a losing record since July 7, 2013.

The Dodgers and Giants have been the class of the division for the last five years. Los Angeles has won four straight NL West titles and finished second in 2012. During the same span, San Francisco has reached the playoffs three times, winning two of their three World Series championships in this decade.

NL West 2012-16

Teams W-L Pct Playoffs .500+
Teams W-L Pct Playoffs .500+
LA 455-355 0.562 4 5
SF 429-381 0.530 3 4
AZ 374-436 0.462 0 2
SD 371-439 0.458 0 0
Col 347-463 0.428 0 0

The only time in the last five years that someone other than the Dodgers or Giants finished as high as second place was in 2013, when the Diamondbacks at 81-81 finished 11 games behind the Dodgers.

That was the second straight .500 season for Arizona, the only two non-losing seasons for the Diamondbacks, Rockies and Padres dating back to 2012.

This year, however, Colorado and Arizona are both off to hot starts. The Rockies are 13-6 and in first place, with the Diamondbacks, at 12-8, close behind.

Colorado just finished off a sweep of the Giants at Coors Field, and is 6-1 against the Giants already this season. The Rockies have also beaten the Dodgers in three of their five meetings in 2017. The Diamondbacks are 4-3 against the Dodgers and 4-3 against the Giants this season, which has both Los Angeles and San Francisco in the unfamiliar position of late of looking up at their competition within the division.

Dodgers problems

The Dodgers are without Logan Forsythe for a little bit with a broken toe, and Franklin Gutierrez has been sidelined with a strained hamstring. Those were the two biggest weapons brought in this offseason to help combat left-handed pitching, which remains a problem.

Against left-handers in 2017, the Dodgers are hitting just .225/.310/.360, and the problem has been exacerbated by facing much, much more of them this year. The Dodgers have faced 10 left-handed starters in 19 games, and lead the majors with 318 plate appearances against southpaws, 49 more PA than any other team (Colorado is second).

The Dodgers are 3-7 against lefties this season.

They will face two more lefties in San Francisco, facing Ty Blach on Tuesday and Matt Moore on Thursday, which makes 12 lefties in 23 games. In 2016, the Dodgers faced their 12th left-handed starter on May 23, their 46th game.

Rich Hill is out with recurring blister problems, which doesn’t help the fact that Dodgers starters not named Clayton Kershaw are averaging just 4.98 innings per start this season, with a 4.94 ERA.

Giants problems

The big blow to the Giants is Madison Bumgarner spraining his left shoulder and bruising his ribs in a dirt bike accident that came right out of central casting. He’s out for a while, but San Francisco was struggling with Bumgarner anyway.

Bumgarner has pitched very well this season, with a 3.00 ERA, a 2.33 FIP, 28 strikeouts and just four walks, but the Giants were 0-4 in his four starts, thanks in part to having scored no runs with him in the game in his last three outings.

Giants left fielders — Chris Marrero has just over half the plate appearances — are just 8-for-66, hitting .121/.192/.197.

Giants center fielders — Denard Span and Gorkys Hernandez platooning — are hitting just .171/.232/.237, and Span strained his shoulder crashing into the wall at Coors Field on Saturday (sounds familiar!).

They have already been without Buster Posey for a week with concussion symptoms, though he’s back. Hunter Pence hurt his knee over the weekend, but is expected to start Monday against the Dodgers.

Strap in

The Dodgers and Giants haven’t played each other since way back on March 7 in spring training. But they will get familiar with one another pretty quick. Monday is the first of 10 games against these two teams — seven in San Francisco, three in Los Angeles — in the next 23 days.

They say you can throw out the records when the Dodgers and Giants meets. At this moment, both teams would be glad to do just that.