MLB Second Half Preview 2013: The National League West

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San Francisco Giants (43-51)

Jul 13, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (28) after scoring during the fourth inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants mustered some momentum over the weekend, taking three of four from the lowly Padres.

A Buster Posey, Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval-led offense averaged six runs per game in those four games. For a team that has the second-worst OPS in baseball over the past 30 days, that was a turn of the tables.

San Francisco’s starting pitching, not including Barry Zito’s hiccup on Sunday, also fared well, highlighted by Tim Lincecum’s 148-pitch no-hitter.

Lincecum’s no-hitter begs the question: has he found his groove? He does have a 3.16 ERA over his last eight starts, which spans back to June 4. Since then, his splitter has yielded a .141 average and his curveball has yielded a .063 mark (Brooks Baseball). He’s commanding both pitches well, which has allowed him to avoid using his declining fastball in hitters’ counts.

If Lincecum sustains his current pace (an ERA in the low 3.00s), the Giants would be getting an early Christmas present. Getting back a glimpse of the old Tim Lincecum would essentially be trading for a pitcher.

That’s quite the “if,” but the Giants can dream big.

Matt Cain (5.06 ERA) and Barry Zito (4.88) have both struggled. Ryan Vogelsong’s return date is still foggy. Chad Gaudin’s long-term durability as a starter is something to ponder. The only sure thing San Francisco has is Madison Bumgarner (3.02).

Put all of those numbers together and you come up with a 4.59 starters’ ERA. That’s merely in front of the Padres and Houston Astros. You know, teams of that variety.

So to recap: the Giants have a fluctuating offensive output and a top-heavy pitching staff with the majority of the burden shouldered by Bumgarner. Common sense says that they will have to get a few more hitters and pitchers on track to make a run. And yes, common sense prevails.