The trade deadline is 5 days away.
It’s way too early for the Giants to decide even what role they will have, if any, in that deadline. So let’s just stay calm.
As of Tuesday morning in this shortened season, halfway into the season, the Giants are in a playoff position, the eighth seed of eight teams in the National League. They are only a half game behind the top at-large seed, but have five teams within a game behind them.
This season’s weird, but it’s fair to say the Giants are in it.
But now, the Giants are going to play the Dodgers for the third, and final, time in the regular season. And this series really should tell the Giants what to do.
The Dodgers are obviously the class of the NL, with a 22-8 record. And yet…the Giants have played them well. In seven games already this season, the Giants are 3-4 against the Dodgers, and they played the Dodgers while the Giants were at their bumbling worst this year.
The Giants are now on a 6-game win streak, but on the other hand, those wins came against the two last-place teams in the NL West and NL East. Can they really be trusted?
This series is the best test for the Giants. If they take 2 of 3 from the Dodgers, that should be a sign the Giants can compete. After all, the lineup generally has looked good offensively, led by the sudden superstar Mike Yastrzemski and rookie Joey Bart, and a surprising starting staff that has flashed surprising depth recently. 2 of 3 wins the first round of the playoffs.
Losing 2 of 3, or getting swept, and the Giants will just be in the mass of the bottom half of the NL, still in a playoff hunt, but probably not so much so that it’s worth over-pursuing. The Giants would do better being one of the few teams selling, and taking advantage of trading those pitchers to get some more prospect depth for the future.
The best thing for the Giants after this series is that their road is easier to the playoffs. Not easy, but easier. No more games against the Dodgers. They’ve already finished the Astros, and half their games against the A’s. Of their 27 remaining games after this series, only 10 are against those with winning records: 3 against the A’s, and 7 against the Slam Diego Padres, who have settled into second place. The rest are: 7 against Arizona, 7 against Colorado, and 4 against Seattle. Arizona and Colorado are right about at the same record with the Giants right now, with Colorado in the #7 playoff spot, but they are not elite teams.
Those teams aren’t so bad that the Giants can coast their way into a playoff spot, but they obviously have an easier road than most.
It’s hard to trust records in this short season with limited opponents. There’s no doubt that the NL West has benefitted from playing the AL West, who have 2 good teams, and 3 teams that are among the worst in baseball. And it is hard to predict the other divisions, where several teams have games to makeup in doubleheaders thanks to coronavirus postponements.
It’s all uncertain. But there’s one certainty: The Dodgers are the NL’s best. Which brings us back to this series. Can the Giants compete with the Dodgers?
If the answer is yes, pursue the playoffs. Don’t make ridiculous trades, maybe stand pat, but go for it. If the Giants can compete with the Dodgers, they can compete and surprise anybody in the playoffs. And let’s be honest, if the Giants only playoff accomplishment was knocking the Dodgers out in a first round shocker, I’d be pretty satisfied there.
But if the Giants can’t? Take advantage of a lack of sellers, and see what you can get for the future. A couple of new higher-level pitching prospects would be enough to make the future just that much richer for the Giants.
So, enjoy this series with the Dodgers. And on Friday, we’ll know what the Giants have got to do.