The Giants are in the middle of a pretty heated pennant race for the NL West crown with the Dodgers and Diamondbacks. Going into Friday night’s games, San Francisco sits one game up on the Dodgers and four games ahead of the Diamondbacks, with each team having played 112 games.
Baseball Prospectus says that the Giants should be the favorites, with a 55.9% chance to win the division. Next is the Dodgers at 23.2%, with the Diamondbacks at 19.9%. The scary thing for Giants fans is that at this time last year the Diamondbacks had about the same chance to win the division and ran away with it.
50 games left, but they don’t play the same teams…
Based on strength of schedule, the Giants have it the easiest from here on out. The collective winning percentage of the teams they face down the stretch is .466, and outside of Washington to start off next week the only winning teams they face are their division rivals.
Los Angeles faces the toughest slate — the winning percentage of the teams they’ll face is .505. The Dodgers have to go on the road to face the Pirates, Braves, Nationals and Reds. They also have the privilege of facing the Cardinals at home. All that, in addition to the matchups that they have with the Giants and D-Backs.
Arizona has a slightly tougher road than the Giants, as their upcoming opponents’ winning percentage is .476. Their toughest games outside the division come early with the Nationals at home and a road trip to St. Louis. After that the hardest challenge the Reds who come to Arizona at the end of August.
Taking a more granular look at things, here is a look at how each team’s opponents have done at home versus on the road (for example, the teams the Giants will face at AT&T Park have a winning percentage of .488 this year:
The Giants will play 26 more times at home, the Dodgers get 23 more home games, and the Diamondbacks have 27.
Between the two teams I have to say that I am most worried about the D-Backs. They have roughly the same strength of schedule as the Giants, plus one more home game. In addition, they have the chance to play the Giants nine more times (six in SF, three in AZ). If the D-Backs are within give games after facing Washington and St. Louis, that could be bad news for the Giants.
The Dodgers aren’t going to go away quietly, but they certainly have a tough path to the NL West crown. The one thing that really makes me nervous is that last three-game series. Even if the Dodgers drop out of the race like I expect (that’s right, there is no guarantee), I fully expect them to do everything in their power to disrupt the Giants season.