Although the Giants are three games back of the first-place Dodgers in the NL West, they still hold the top wild card spot by half of a game over the St. Louis Cardinals. However, with teams like the Marlins, Pirates, and Mets in hot pursuit, those wild card spots are anything but safe. Not only that, but the Giants have been the worst team in the league since the All-Star break. They've won just 11 games in the second half, along with 25 losses. San Francisco has won just one series in the past six weeks. They need to turn their season around, and the Braves could be the perfect victim. The Giants are 2-2 against them this year, but those games were on the road. With a roster loaded with talented bats like Brandon Belt, Hunter Pence, Buster Posey, Denard Span, and Brandon Crawford, there’s no reason why the Giants can’t go all the way.
On the other hand, the Braves have no chance of even making the playoffs, let alone winning the World Series. Their 46-81 mark is the worst in the MLB, and they sit 27.5 games back of the first-place Nationals in the NL East. Even so, they've made some good moves recently, like acquiring Matt Kemp at the trade deadline, or trading Jeff Francouer to the Dodgers. Freddie Freeman continues to produce like an All-Star, but that’s not nearly enough for this team. A severe lack of experience and depth at almost all positions leaves the Braves with little hope for the near future and a long rebuilding process in front of them.
For the Giants, it’ll be former World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner making the start on Sunday. He’s having yet another fantastic season, with a 12-8 record, 2.44 ERA, and 202 strikeouts. However, he’s struggled lately and has only three wins in his last ten starts. The good news is that he’s 3-1 in his last four at home. His 1.77 ERA and 7-3 record at home are unmatched in San Francisco’s rotation. He’ll look to get back on track against the lowly Braves, and to improve upon his 3.71 post-All-Star break ERA.
For the Braves, Rob Whalen will take the mound and try to steal a win on the road. Whalen, a rookie, has made just five starts in 2016, accumulating a 6.57 ERA and a 1-2 record. He’s 0-1 on the road in three starts, though the Braves have won two of those games. His .189 average allowed to lefties should suit him well against a Giants lineup loaded with southpaws. It’ll be interesting to see how Whalen reacts to the pressure of such a big road game against a perennial contender.
- Sports.net’s top tip: Though Bumgarner hasn’t been himself lately, expect him to revert back to playoff form and dominate this weak Braves lineup. Giants win 6-0.