At 25-19, the San Francisco Giants are atop the National League West, 3.5 games ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado Rockies. The team's 8-game winning streak was largely due to the team's stellar starting pitching during that time, as you can tell by these totals.
Solid starts from Jake Peavy and Matt Cain helped keep the streak going, but most of the heavy lifting was done by the Giants top three of Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija. On Friday night the good fortunes came to an end at the hand of a 'slumping' Chicago Cubs who handed the Giants their first loss in more than a week, 8-1 at AT&T Park.
What this impressive burst from the starters did was to mask the underlying problems for San Francisco early on, which is getting a key hit with runners in scoring position. On the season the team is batting a respectable .254 (99-for-389), but over their last twelve games they are just 13-for-84, good for a lowly .155 average. Again, the starters have done an excellent job of picking up the bats during this recent cold streak, but this is not a formula for long-term success.
In all likelihood the Giants will begin to bring those runners home at some point this season, although they currently rank second in the Majors in runners left on base with 323. Only Pittsburgh's 333 men left on base rank higher.
If the Giants can start bringing those runners home as the weather warms up (even though it could never truly be considered warm in San Francisco), then their offense has the potential to improve even more. Even with their woes, San Francisco currently holds the 7th-best offense in baseball, tied with Seattle, with 192 runs scored on the year.
With a formidable offense and a top three in the rotation that has gone a Chicago-esque 20-7 (.741), the Giants will be serious contenders here in 2016. The only things keeping them from being recognized as a juggernaut are the overall performances of Peavy and Cain to date, and their lack of situational hitting.
If there is one team that could potentially go toe-to-toe with the Cubs in the playoffs, it would be a San Francisco squad that can capitalize on their opportunities at the plate.