The image above says it all.
Prior to the start of their recently completed series against the Cincinnati Reds, the San Francisco Giants held a three-game lead in the NL West. If you go back as far as play after the games on June 8th, the Giants held a 9.5 game lead over the second place Los Angeles Dodgers.
Times have changed…a lot.
Since that date of June 7th, the Giants are 4-15 while their bitter rivals have posted a record of 14-6. And you now have a virtual tie atop the NL West. The Giants are technically in first as they have a higher winning percentage…by one percentage point.
But why the free fall over the past 19 games? And what about the series against the Reds? Well, it has been a team effort. Here’s some offensive numbers…
Opening Day to June 8 (64 G): .248/.310/.406, 69 HR, 278 runs scored (4.34 runs/game)
June 9 – June 29 (19 G): .246/.294/.353, 8 HR, 58 runs scored (3.05 runs/game)
Those differences don’t look that bleak. Less runners on base will can lead to scoring less. The batting average is about the same, but the pop seemingly left the bats.
But those numbers over the last 19 games were brought down after being swept by the Reds. For that series, Giants batters posted these numbers: .162/.204/.246, 1 HR, 6 runs scored (1.50 runs/game).
Then there is this. Over these last 19 games, the Giants have scored 2 or fewer runs in ten games. They have dropped all ten of those games.
Granted, San Francisco ran into some good starting efforts from the Reds quartet of Mike Leake, Johnny Cueto, Alfredo Simon, and Homer Bailey. According to their game scores (taken from Baseball Reference), Cueto had the “worst” outing of the four(68). Bailey posted the best with his complete game shutout yesterday (87).
Speaking of pitching, the Giants arms – starters and relievers – have had their issues as well.
Opening Day to June 8: 3.07 ERA, 1.148 WHIP, .235 BAA, 22 inherited runners scored
June 9 to June 29: 4.76 ERA, 1.253 WHIP, .261 BAA, 50% inherited runners scored
Wow. That’s all you can say to that. You would be more likely to point to the Giants pitching – their “calling card” – as a bigger culprit in all of this. And for the Reds series: 4.74 ERA, 1.289 WHIP, .292 BAA, 67% inherited runners scored. Yikes.
I’m not so sure you can pin the bulk of their recent pitching woes on the starters, especially for that Reds series. The only starter that posted a game score below 65 was Madison Bumgarner. The other three were either at 65 or slightly higher.
Recall how the Giants have fared over the last 19 games when scoring 2 or fewer runs? Not good. Their pitching has held opponents to 2 or fewer runs only four times. They’re 3-1 in those four games. The loss was a 2-1 decision to the Washington Nationals.
And it may have been the Nats series where the tires started to wear down.
So what have the Dodgers done during these same periods of time?
First, their bats.
Opening Day to June 8 (64 G): .253/.323/.407, 60 HR, 274 runs scored (4.28 runs/game)
June 9 – June 29 (20 G): .275/.346/.386, 10 HR, 82 runs scored (4.10 runs/game)
Strange, huh? Better batting average and OBP, but scoring less. Well, not much less.
So it’s got to be the pitching, right?
Opening Day to June 8: 3.42 ERA, 1.272 WHIP, .249 BAA, 24% inherited runners scored
June 9 to June 29: 2.50 ERA, 1.064 WHIP, .223 BAA, 17% inherited runners scored
Over their last 20 games, the Dodgers have been held to 2 or fewer runs five times. Their pitching staff has done that to their opponents on 11 occasions including four shutouts.
So, over their last 19 games, the Giants are a cool 4-15 with less offense and not-so-stellar pitching. The Dodgers hold a 14-6 record over the same timespan and are scoring a little less, but getting excellent pitching.
Yes, San Francisco is slumping. Get that slump out of the way now while the season is only at the halfway point (or thereabouts). If you’re a Giants fan, you’re hope is that the Dodgers aren’t set to go on a run like they did in 2013.
That would be bad.