After barely missing the expanded MLB playoffs in last year's shortened 60-game season, the consensus was the Giants would take a step back with a bigger sample size in the loaded NL West.
At least, that's what the outsiders believe.
Not within the Giants clubhouse, though. This squad again brought a "Why not us?" attitude, with last season's heartbreak at the front of their minds. They now find themselves atop the division as true championship contenders. But they also have struggled at times against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and haven't exactly blown away the San Diego Padres.
Nearly every game between the Giants and their top competition in the West have been close contests. A little help could push them over the top. Ahead of the July 30 MLB trade deadline, here are five pitchers the Giants could target, with one wild-card bat at the end.
Amir Garrett, LHP, Cincinnati Reds
The Reds have disappointed again this season, and could be sellers at the trade deadline. Garrett has struggled this year but could be a good buy-low candidate.
He enters Thursday with an ugly 7.61 ERA and has walked 15 batters in just 23 2/3 innings. But he also has struck out 30 batters and left-handers are hitting a lowly .204 against him. It also doesn't help that he pitches in hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park.
Garrett has a 10.22 ERA at home, and opposing batters are hitting .333 off him in Cincy. On the road, his ERA is 4.76 but batters are only hitting .154 against him away from his home field.
Changing scenery and pitching at Oracle Park might be just what he needs. He also could be a very nice complement to right-hander Tyler Rogers.
Taylor Rogers, LHP, Minnesota Twins
Speaking of Rogers, maybe the Giants will look to make this summer a family reunion and re-unite Tyler with his twin brother, who is having an impressive season for the Twins.
Rogers is enjoying a career year with a 2.53 ERA and 11 saves so far. The lefty has 42 strikeouts in 32 innings and only has walked five batters all season long. He too would be an ideal fit alongside his brother.
The Rogers twins might be able to connect at the All-Star Game, and it would be more than a cool story if the two wound up on the same team this season.
Richard Rodriguez, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
*Extreme Jim Cramer voice* Sell! Sell! Sell! Sell!
Wipe up the vomit, and get back to reading. The Pirates have the second-worst record in the NL, and they once again will have to continue their rebuild at the deadline.
There's no doubt Rodriguez will be a hot name to watch this summer. He has followed up his eye-opening 2020 season with a great year thus far. The right-hander comes into Thursday with a 1.78 ERA, 10 saves and a more than nice 0.69 WHIP.
Rodriguez only has walked three batters in 30 1/3 innings. He doesn't produce huge strikeout numbers, but he's incredibly efficient while dominating the strike zone. The Giants certainly won't be the only team monitoring him.
José Berríos, RHP, Twins
We go back to Minnesota, where things get really interesting.
The Twins had World Series aspirations going into this season. That looks like a lost dream right now. But just how much will they sell? Getting rid of Berríos won't be easy.
Berríos, 27, is a two-time All-Star who still has ace stuff at the top of starting rotation. He also is arbitration 3 eligible and doesn't become an unrestricted free agent until after next year. Through 15 starts, Berríos is 7-2 with a 3.41 ERA, and his 1.08 WHIP is the best of his six-year career.
Adding Berríos to the Giants could give them a championship-caliber rotation, making them even scarier when the games matter most.
Kyle Gibson, RHP, Texas Rangers
This time, we're looking at a former Twin. Gibson had an ugly 5.35 ERA for the Rangers last season, but he has looked completely different at 33 years old.
He's another former first-round draft pick that Farhan Zaidi might have his eyes on. Gibson is a perfect 6-0 and leads the AL with a 2.00 ERA and 233 ERA+. He isn't going to wow you with his stuff or high strikeout totals, but he knows how to induce groundballs and opponents have a .200 batting average against him right now.
Gibson also is signed through next season. The Giants have a staff full of one-year contracts, and he would provide veteran stability for this season and in 2022.
Wild Card: Joey Gallo, RF, Texas Rangers
The Giants have lost their major league lead in home runs, and Gallo still is full of power. He has 20 home runs, and better yet, he's starting to look more and more like a player Zaidi covets.
Gallo, 27, leads all the majors in walks with 63. He's only batting .239, but he has a .396 on-base percentage and .498 slugging percentage. Oh, and he has now homered in five straight games and seven times in that span.
Gallo's 30.5 strikeout percentage is the lowest of his career, and his 19.6 walk percentage is the highest of his career.
This past season, Gallo added a Gold Glove to his name and he can play multiple positions. Though he has settled in nicely at right field, Gallo has experience playing all three spots in the outfield, as well as first and third base. He's arbitration 3 eligible next season before becoming an unrestricted free agent.
Bullpen help and possibly another piece to the rotation likely are higher priorities for the Giants. There also are plenty of reasons why Gallo should be on their radar.