Going into the final two days of the 2020 MLB season, the Giants absolutely are in must-win mode.
Standing at 29-29, manager Gabe Kapler’s group currently occupies the eighth and final seed in the NL playoffs with two games remaining on the schedule, both at home against the offensive juggernaut that is the San Diego Padres. If the playoffs started Saturday, the Giants would play their bitter rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers, who hold the top overall seed and the NL's best record.
But due to having a worse intradivisional record than the teams directly behind them in the playoff race, the Giants would lose any and all tiebreakers with the Philadelphia Phillies, Milwaukee Brewers and New York Mets. MLB.com’s David Adler did a great job summarizing all the various tiebreaker scenarios, but the gist of it for the Giants is: Win, and you’re in.
If the Giants lose both of this weekend’s final two games with the Padres, and the Brewers and Phillies split their final two contests, the Phillies would earn the eighth seed because of their 21-19 record within their division. The Brewers, finishing with a 19-21 record against the NL Central, and the Giants, who would finish with an 18-22 division record, would both miss out on the playoffs.
If the Giants split Saturday and Sunday’s games, but the Phillies and Brewers win out over the St. Louis Cardinals and Tampa Bay Rays, respectively, Philadelphia’s solidified 21-19 record in the division still would win out, as Milwaukee would be 20-20 and San Francisco would be 19-21 against division foes.
Even if the Brewers and Phillies lose out and the Mets win both games, they would have the division tiebreaker over the Giants if San Francisco can’t win either game this weekend.
An added wrench to this equation could be the St. Louis Cardinals, who potentially could be forced to make up a pair of games with the Detroit Tigers that were postponed due to COVID-19 if those games end up impacting the playoff race. Those games would be made up Monday night, meaning the final playoff field wouldn’t be set until those games are completed.
So once again, it’s a simple mantra for the Giants this weekend. Just win, and the rest takes care of itself. Philadelphia, Milwaukee and New York all aren’t capable of getting to 31 wins, so if San Francisco wins out, we could be getting some more even year magic in McCovey Cove.
If the Giants only can earn a split with the Padres, the playoffs still are a possibility. But the team would be leaving itself open to myriad scenarios, most of which wouldn't be good news for the orange and black.