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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Playoff Races Heating Up

We're about midway through September, and this is when things start getting really important. The Giants are 1.5 games back in the Wild Card race, and 3 back in the NL West race. They have finally leap frogged all other teams that where in between them and the Padres, and it is starting to look more and more like there will be two teams from the NL West in the playoffs. The Giants and Padres have been playing the currently playing the best ball in the division, but the Dodgers are still hanging on to the lead. I 've gone on record already saying I think the Padres will make the playoffs. They have the best bullpen and the most speed on their team, and in the close games, that is what prevails. Nothing will likely be determined until the last weekend of the season when the Giants and Dodgers square off at AT&T Park while the Padres are in Arizona playing the Diamondbacks. After their series with the Rockies, the Giants will take off on their final road trip of the season which they visit St. Louis, Colorodo and Millwaukee. Only the Cardinals have a winning record out of those 3 teams, so the Giants will need to take advantage on that trip or else they will put their own backs against the wall for the final week of the season. The Giants must also take care of business vs. the Rockies. Jonathen Sanchez made his second career start Tuesday night, and it wasn't nearly as good as his first in Cincinatti. Sanchez was officially put in the rotation in Brad Hennessey's spot before the start, and even though he wasn't as good Tuesday, I haven't lost confidence in him.

Giants fans can all take a collective sigh of relief, Armondo Benitez's season is officially over. The Giants put Benitez on the 15-day DL earlier this week with his two bad knees, and it is highly unlikely that Benitez will return this season. Mike Stanton has been closing games in Benitez's absence and has done a great job. I haven't had confidence in a Giants closer since Tim Worell in 2003, but Mike Stanton is starting to gain my trust. Of course he doesn't have the lights out stuff that your typical closer has, but he has shown more composure, poise and accuracy than Benitez in his time with the Giants. The Giants bullpen as a whole has been throwing a lot better lately. Kevin Corriea is really coming into his own this season. For the last 5 years, the Giants have wondered where exactly they would like to use Corriea, but he has clearly found a home in the bullpen. Corriea has always had electric stuff, but his accuracy has always been in question. Corriea has walked only 22 batters in 63 innings while stiking out 48. A 2:1 stikeout to walk ratio is solid, and opposing hitters are hitting only .229 against Corriea. Felipe Alou has obviously noticed Corriea's effectiveness because he has been using him in the late inning, close game situations. The Giants pitching staff as a whole is throwing the best it has all season. Their starting pitching over the second half has been outstanding, and their late relief pitching is a lot safer without the option of Benitez out there. The Giants are definetely ready for the stretch run and the teams that go to the playoffs will be the teams that play the best ball from here on out.
The Giants Baseball Blog


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