After splitting a four-game set with the worst team in the National League (and, well, the majors), the Giants begin a three-game series against the Cubs — who just so happen to have the second-worst record in the National League at 57-77.
Randy Wells has had a quite a down year — through 17 starts (~100 IP), he boasts a K/9 south of 6, a BB/9 at nearly 3.5, and a HR/9 of 1.78 — which ranks as the second-worst home run rate among starters with 90+ innings. At -0.2 fWAR, he’s essentially been replacement-level in 2011; meaning he fits the prototype for pitchers that dominate the Giants.
Garza, meanwhile, is the only legitimately good starter the Giants will face this series: he ranks in the top-ten in the NL in fWAR, and he’s striking out hitters at a clip of 24.1% (good for fifth-best in the majors). His FIP- sits at 75, marking a breakout season for the 27-year-old.
In game three, the Giants face off against a familiar face in Lopez — who, like Wells, is not a good pitcher at all. He’s struck out opponents at a rate of 12.5% this season, which is roughly half that of Garza. His season-high for strikeouts in a game is five, which he’s accomplished once. The only above-average facet of his game is his walk rate — which he maintains in the mid-twos.
The Cubs’ offense, by the way, isn’t too good either — their hitting is essentially in Astros/Marlins/Diamondbacks territory.
Basically, the Giants have no excuse for losing a series like this — they’re facing off against a horrible team, at home, and have the benefit of facing two awful pitchers in Wells and Lopez. Though as for Garza — I expect he’ll embarrass the Giants’ offense thoroughly (if they haven’t yet gotten that out of their system).
A few other notes:
- Reed Johnson still exists, apparently, and is quietly having an excellent season: through 87 games (214 PA), he’s posted a .345/.385/.533 and amassed 1.6 wins above replacement.
- Aramis Ramirez has been the Cubs’ best hitter this season (135 wRC+) after a disappointing 2010 campaign. His OBP is up to .357, from .294 last season.
- I envy the Cubs for one reason: Starlin Castro. He doesn’t walk much at all (one of my pet peeves in a hitter), and he plays some pretty shoddy defense at shortstop, but none of that matters because he’s a) a shortstop, b) 21 years old, and c) good at hitting (currently sitting at a 105 wRC+). He’s not all that flashy, but as a young talented shortstop, he’s quite the invaluable commodity — one I wish the Giants had.
Update: Today’s lineup, courtesy of Extra Baggs: