Are the Diamondbacks really in this thing? That’s what I’m wondering, because if they are, it drastically changes the National League landscape. Here’s a little story about the San Francisco Giants. They may play the Phillies tough, but they are shockingly mediocre against everyone else. Really, they aren’t that much different from the Pirates. True Story. With San Francisco’s recent 5-game tailspin they’ve allowed themselves to be caught in the NL West for the moment by the upstart D-Backs. Well, they aren’t that upstart. They’re 12 games over .500. But so is San Fran and their mind-boggling negative run differential. We hear a lot about pitchers and hitter getting lucky these days, the Giants are lucky they aren’t .500. Or worse. Colorado’s run differential is only 12 runs worse, and they’re 10 games behind SF.
Of course, if you were paying attention to the Giants all year you knew all this about them. And, so far, Carlos Beltran isn’t helping. Despite that, though, they looked like a lock to win the NL West. Who else was going to? San Diego was pillaged. The Rockies were injured and underachieving, and the D-Backs, well…they’re the D-Backs. But, suddenly Ian Kennedy is an ace and Justin Upton is raking and the D-Backs can take over first place this afternoon. It’s a crazy thought.
All the worry in Philadelphia comes from SF with a little nod to Atlanta. Well, now SF might have to fight to even make the post-season, and Atlanta has slipped eight games back. Remember about a month ago when I said the Braves had just played their best stretch of the season and were still 3 games back of the Phillies? Well, this is what happens when they come back down to Earth a little bit. The Phillies get some cushion. Already at 70 wins, the Phils win pace is up to 104. If they play .500 the rest of the way, they’ll still win 96. This is a very good baseball team.
A baseball team that is going for a sweep in Colorado in about an hour. Roy Halladay is given the task. Isn’t he from Denver. Home game alert. The Phillies haven’t had much success closing out sweeps of late, although they did finish the Pirates off on Sunday. If Halladay can beat Jason Hammel, the Phillies will be riding a 6-game winning streak into the big showdown with (1st or 2nd place?) San Francisco. That’s going to be a handful, even if the Giants lose another one this afternoon. Best to pile up wins while you can against the likes of the Rockies. And, as an aside, that Pence seems to be a decent fit into the lineup, no?
If Washington Nationals fans had some history, perhaps we could put them among the truly tortured fan bases, but they’re still a pup. The Jayson Werth contract debacle, Strasburg blowing out his arm, Bryce Harper going ice-cold in AA, that’s a decent foundation to a tortured fan resume, but it’s just a start. And, there could finally be some good news on the horizon. Strasburg is actually scheduled to make a rehab start on Sunday. It’ll just an inning or two, but it’s a major sign of progress, especially in terms of getting Strasburg ready for next year. I think we have short memories and forget how exciting this guy was when he came up last year. His return is certainly something to look forward to.
Quiz of the Day: Historical Over/Unders. Category: It’s Like Gambling. My Score: 20/24.
Random Link: Here’s an interesting story about Carl Lewis from SI, if you know, that’s your kind of thing.