And we’re off.
The San Francisco Giants are hoping that the second half of the season goes similarly to the first half. But it’s not going to be an easy start, as the Giants are met with a seven-game road trip straight out of the break, featuring two teams that are varying levels of rivals: first the St. Louis Cardinals, and then the Los Angeles Dodgers.
One thing you can look for the Giants to try and do here is win.
Who: San Francisco Giants vs. St. Louis Cardinals
Where: Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri
When: Friday (5:15 p.m.), Saturday (4:15 p.m.), and Sunday (11:15 a.m.)
National broadcasts: Saturday (Fox)
Where they stand
San Francisco Giants
Record: 57-32, 1st in the NL West
Run differential: +116, 2nd in the NL
Postseason standing: 1st seed
Momentum: 4-game winning streak, 7-3 in their last 10 games
St. Louis Cardinals
Record: 44-46, T-3rd in the NL Central
Run differential: -40, 12th in the NL
Postseason standing: 7.5 games out of the Wild Card, 8 games out of the NL Central
Momentum: 1-game winning streak, 5-5 in their last 10 games
Season series: Cardinals lead 2-1
Three Giants to watch
Kevin Gausman: The Giants (and the schedule makers) timed out the All-Star break perfectly, with Gausman making a start for the last game of the first half, and the first game of the second half. Gausman has been exceptional all year long, but he started to fade towards the end of the first half, from “unbelievably good” to just “really, really good.” After a string of allowing just 4 earned runs in 9 games, Gausman ended the half with 11 earned runs in 6 games. It’s not really accurate to say he got time off during the break, since he’s still pitching just 5 days after his last start, but … hopefully some time at the All-Star festivities, and being home with his family helped him prepare for this second half.
Alex Dickerson: The Giants have had a surprisingly good offense, but one of the biggest surprises has been a negative one: Dickerson enters the break as a below average hitter (95 wRC+, 92 OPS+) despite just 15 plate appearances against lefty pitchers. It’s kind of felt like maybe he’s been dealing with more injuries that the Giants are being open about, so hopefully some time off helped him.
Buster Posey: Posey missed the last few games of the first half with a thumb contusion, then skipped on traveling to the All-Star Game, and has been ruled out of Friday’s game. Watch him not to see how he plays, but to see if he plays.
Three Cardinals to watch
Nolan Arenado: Well, here we go again. It was the penultimate series of the first half when the Giants faced the Cardinals, and I listed Nolan Arenado, certified Giant Killer, as a player to watch. He proceeded to hit 6-13 with a home run, a double, and 4 RBI. He is very good, especially against the Giants.
Paul Goldschmidt: I also listed Goldschmidt, another certified Giant Killer. He hit 4-12 with 2 walks and 3 RBI. He is also very good, especially against the Giants.
Tyler O’Neill: Arenado and Goldy might be the Giant Killers with a whole bunch of All-Star seasons under their belts, but O’Neill has actually been the Cards’ best hitter this season, slashing .275/.333/.546, good for a 144 OPS+ and a 138 wRC+. He only got a pair of plate appearances when these teams last faced off, but I expect that to change in this series.