By John Shea @real_johnshea on September 2, 2014
The San Francisco Giants have a clear-cut chance to overtake the L.A. Dodgers and win the NL West for the third time in five seasons if they can continue playing high-quality baseball throughout September. The Giants' recent six-game win streak enabled them to climb within two games of the Dodgers in the West and take over the top spot in the NL Wild Card race. The Giants are one of the best teams in MLB right now and control their own destiny.
Rookie Joe Panik is worthy of earning NL Rookie of the Month honors for his explosive performance in August. The former first-round pick recorded a league-high .379 batting average among rookies with 36 hits, 13 runs scored and 13 RBIs during the dog days. His electric performance helped catapult the Giants back into favorable position in the playoff race. The 23-year-old hasn't flashed any signs of slowing down any time soon, either.
The Giants' staff ace is currently in a logjam tie for the most wins in baseball (16). Madison Bumgarner has been brutally unstoppable as of late, allowing just one earned run in his last two starts, spanning 15.0 innings. The Giants have won Bumgarner's previous three starts, giving him an outside chance at winning 20 games. The hard-throwing southpaw will start five more games and could potentially win all of them, giving him 21 wins in 2014.
Buster Posey isn't on the verge of a second-career MVP award but hasn't showed any signs of slowing down after his torrid pace in August. Posey just posted one of the best months of his career statistically, recording a .951 OPS with 36 hits, 19 runs scored, 12 extra-base hits, including six HRs and 17 RBIs. The Giants need their franchise player to continue pummeling opposing pitching in order to win the West. Posey appears up to the challenge.
After a slow start to August, the Giants surged to a 16-12 mark, posting their best win percentage in a single month this season since May (69.0). The Giants play 15 of their final 25 games against teams with losing records. They've feasted on bad teams all year and should continue to do so in September. If the Giants win 11-of-15 against losing teams, they would need to go just 5-5 against teams over .500 to finish the regular season 91-71.
The Dodgers' two-game edge over the Giants gives them an obvious advantage in September, but head-to-head action favors the orange and black. Los Angeles hasn't won a season series against the Giants since 2009. At the moment, the Giants hold a 7-6 lead on the season series in 2014. The Dodgers have the easiest remaining schedule in all of baseball, meaning the six contests between L.A. and SF will likely determine the NL West.
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