Are the SF Giants completely out of gas?

Mitch Haniger and the Giants have been punchless at the plate.

Denis Poroy/Getty Images

September is here, and with it comes baseball’s stretch run. It’s the time where true contenders separate themselves from the pack, surging into the postseason with the kind of momentum that can carry a team to a World Series title.

And for the Giants, it’s the chance to prove they’re for real, with the chance to make some serious noise in October. Right?

Uh… well. About that. The Giants are currently 0 for the month, having lost three straight to the Padres and dropping the first of a three-game series to the Cubs on Monday. At 70-68, they’re a game out of the third Wild Card, and most projections have their playoff odds below 40%.


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The Giants have looked terrible lately, far from a playoff contender and more like a team that’s completely out of gas. Their bats have gone completely silent, and an offense that’s ranked in the bottom-half of the league in every major category this year has somehow looked even more inept these past few weeks. The pitching staff has had no support, to the point where even if they give up a run it seems like an insurmountable task to come back. Frankly, it hasn’t been a lot of fun.

It’s never a good idea to write a team off completely, especially one that’s shown it can get nuclear hot like the Giants did in May and June. But the more days pass, the more it seems like those bursts of ultracompetitiveness were the exception and not the rule.

Before the season started, the Giants roster had the looks of a team that might hover around .500, one that could compete for a playoff spot if lots of things broke their way. And aside from those two months when they went 35-20, they’ve been exactly that: a middling team with a 35-48 record. More often than not they’ve looked overmatched, and their lineup full of streaky hitters has gone cold much more often than not.


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But this isn’t to say they’re finished. If they can salvage the series with the Cubs, they then have 10 straight games against teams with sub-.500 records. The Diamondbacks, Dodgers and Padres all loom at the end of the year, but if the Giants can beat up on the Rockies and Guardians for that 10-game stretch, they could find themselves in good shape with a few weeks left to play.

That certainly is a big “if.” Aside from all of the feel-good moments this year, like finding their catcher-of-the-future in Patrick Bailey and the excitement of debuts from guys like Luis Matos, Kyle Harrison, and Marco Luciano, the Giants have been rough to watch for long, long stretches. Outside of those two months there is very little to suggest they’re a playoff team. Their big free-agent additions — basically all of the guys mentioned in Larry Baer’s infamous “lightbulbs” comment — have disappointed. It’s hard not to think that had they landed one of the big free-agent hitters last winter, they’d be a surefire playoff team, but that’s a column for another time.

So as the Giants enter the final leg of 2023, they’re sure to either answer a bunch of questions about their makeup and long-term prospects, or create entirely new ones. They could keep imploding and fall completely out of contention, they could rediscover their offense and secure a Wild Card spot, or they could compete hard down the stretch and still fall just short of the postseason. The way this season has gone, any of those outcomes is well within the realm of possibilities.


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Right now, though? It’s hard to see this team making a push, but stranger things have happened. I’m old enough to vividly remember Brant Brown dropping a routine fly ball in 1998 to keep the Giants’ slim playoff hopes alive, so nothing would surprise me.

And it isn’t like this is some impossible task, like having to leapfrog six or seven teams and get help along the way. All they have to do is generate just enough offense to support a pitching staff that has kept them in games more often than not. That’s it. If they manage to do that, they’ll likely play slightly above .500 ball this last month, which is probably good enough to get them into October.

But are they even capable of that? We’re about to find out.

Dave Tobener (@gggiants on Twitter) is a lifelong Giants fan whose family has had season tickets for over 30 years. He’s been lucky enough to never miss a World Series game in The City in his lifetime, still isn’t completely over 2002 and lives and dies with the Giants every year.

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