Currently five games behind the Dodgers for first place in the National League West, the Giants could easily close the gap while facing a Phillies team that is still seeking it 30th win. In order to do so, though, the Giants are going to have to attack the Phillies where it hurts the most and score early against their starting pitchers.
The Phillies starting rotation is the worst in baseball in terms of ERA, opponent average, and wins. As if that weren't bad enough, their starters have been pulled from the game prior to the sixth inning nearly half of the games this season which is the worst in all of the majors. The Giants cannot afford to waste a prime scoring opportnunity like this and have to score early and score often. The Phillies are 12-44 when an opponent scores first and are 5-48 when they trail after six innings.
For game one, the Giants should face Cole Hamels, the best pitcher on the worst staff in baseball, who has a 5-6 record and a 3.02 ERA. They will put Madison Bumgarner (8-5, 3.34) on the mound in response. From a pitching standpoint, this should be a good matchup and if the Phillies can give Hamels any sort of run support, he may be able to hold onto it but, lest ye forget, Mad Bum is Mad Bum and he is never going to be a pitcher a Philly hopes to face.
In his last 10 appearances, Hamels has pitched 7+ innings eight times and has given up, on average, two earned runs per game. Using a metric that I created (I think) in order to weigh a pitchers value (ER/IP x WHIP) Hamels, with a .378, is actually a hair better than Bumgarner who is throwing a .398 (the lower the better) and acknowledging that this metric is only used by the author of this piece, it does illustrate that Hamels will not simply roll over for the Giants but a win against Hamels is an almost guarantee that the Giants will take the series and end the first half above the .500 mark.
For your own reference, the Giants will also face David Buchanan (who, by our metric, is graded at 1.85), and Chad Billingsley (graded at 1.26) going into the break. This series is a crucial test for the Giants who have only won 5 of their last 16 games.
Swing by our forum and follow the series with other fans.