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Friday, July 22, 2011

Brewers vs. Giants: Playoff Preview Series?

Well, we're still over a month away from Postseason play, but as things currently stand on July 22nd, this Brewers-Giants match-up could very well be a preview of a possible postseason series, with an atmosphere sure to match that of October baseball.

Right away we get a playoff caliber pitching match-up Friday night between All-Star's Matt Cain and Shawn Marcum. Cain has really been terrific all year for the Giants, as evident by his 2.99 era and 1.09 WHIP. His walks are way down this year and it's allowed him to go deeper into games and factor into more decisions. In his 2 starts since the All-Star break, Cain has thrown 12 innings, allowing just 1 earned run on 8 hits with 13 strikeouts. After Cain, the Giants will trot out fellow All-Star Ryan Vogelsong vs. Randy Wolf and then Madison Bumgarner vs. Yovanni Gallardo in game 3. Needless to say, all 3 should be fine pitching matchups, but at home with the three arms the Giants are set to throw at the Brewers, I feel pretty good about the Giants chances. Cain and Vogelsong have been great, but Bumgarner has been the tough luck pitcher on the staff this year, with twice as many losses as wins despite terrific numbers. I'm also looking forward to seeing how Bruce Bochy fills out his lineup card now with Keppinger in the mix. I was a little surprised he wasn't out there Wednesday vs. Clayton Kershaw, but I absolutely expect him to be a regular in this lineup and entrenched into the #2 spot unless he absolutely tanks in his first few weeks as a Giant, which I don't see happening. Keppinger isn't an All-Star and is probably a notch below Freddy Sanchez, but he's a darn good hitter and a very tough out (.305 avg with just 7 K's this season). He should strengthen the top part of the order for this team and allow it so Bochy doesn't need to keep using .220 hitters in the 2 hole.

The Brewers also, along with the Giants, are one of the few teams said to still be in the Carlos Beltran sweepstakes as apparently the Mets are asking for either prospects or for a team to absorb the remaining $6 million left on Beltran's contract. If that 2nd option is on the table, it would put the Giants in excellent position to grab Beltran without having to give up anyone too promising in return. They'd still have to give up a prospect or 2, possibly someone as high up as Thomas Neal, but it wouldn't cost them Brandon Belt, Hector Sanchez, Zach Wheeler, Gary Brown or Erik Surkamp. Having a chance to get a star like Beltran without having to give up too much in return may be too good for the Giants to pass up. That said, even if they do pass on Beltran, it doesn't mean they don't have their sights set on somebody else. We all know Brian Sabean, and I highly doubt he's just sitting on his hands right now. The Keppinger deal was a nice additive to the infield and strengthens the team up the middle, but in order to keep up with the offense of teams like Milwaukee and Philadelphia's, the Giants will need another bopper in the middle of that lineup. It doesn't need to be Beltran, but I really think he may be the most logical option. Sure, Hunter Pence or B.J. Upton are a lot younger and better long-term options, but in order to get one of those guys, the Giants would most assuredly need to part with at least one of Zach Wheeler and Brandon Belt combo.
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2 Comments:

  • At 2:15 PM, Anonymous Nathan Schibel said…

    I agree, this should be an awesome series and should tell us a lot about the Giants.

    I think they still need another hitter and I'd love it to be Beltran or Hunter Pence!

     
  • At 2:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Two losses in a row, what's happening to the Giants? Hopefully Sabean sees this and realizes that we still need another bat! And time to replace Zito with Sanchez!

     

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