A team with pitchers potentially for sale encounters a club that could be in the market for dependable arms when the San Francisco Giants open baseball's second half Friday night against the host Milwaukee Brewers.
Both teams ended the first half on the outside of the playoff picture, with the Brewers (47-44) a half-game behind the Chicago Cubs in the National League Central as well as Philadelphia for the National League's second wild-card spot, while the Giants (41-48), the last-place team in the NL West, are 5 1/2 games back.
The Giants played arguably their best ball of the season in the week leading into the All-Star break, going 5-1 with a three-game sweep of San Diego before taking two of three from St. Louis.
The team has gone 18-14 since June 1, which had general manager Farhan Zaidi cautioning Giants fans over the break not necessarily to expect a sell-off of high-priced assets such as Madison Bumgarner and All-Star closer Will Smith before the upcoming trade deadline.
"I feel like we're playing as well as really the top teams in the league right now," Zaidi insisted to reporters. "If we can continue to play well over these next couple of weeks, then some of the narratives that are out there about what we might do at the trade deadline are probably going to conflict with that goal to keep pushing on in a season where we still hope to accomplish some things."
The Giants' improved play of late included taking two of three from Milwaukee when the Brewers visited San Francisco in mid-June. The only game the Giants lost in the series -- 5-3 in the finale -- was pitched by the Brewers' scheduled starter in Friday's game, right-hander Chase Anderson (4-2, 4.32).
Anderson has pitched well in his last three starts, going 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in 15 innings. He's 3-2 in his career against the Giants with a 4.91 ERA in eight starts.
Despite losing five of seven to Cincinnati and Pittsburgh last week and going just 8-15 since June 12, the Brewers find themselves part of both races.
That's encouraging, All-Star outfielder Christian Yelich insists.
"I don't think we've played our best baseball by any means," Yelich noted to reporters over the break. "But we've put ourselves in solid position when we start the second half to put ourselves in the playoffs and make a run. That's all you can ask for."
Anderson was pulled after four shaky innings in his earlier start against the Giants, having allowed five hits and four walks, but just three runs.
One of the big hits he served up to was a triple by Evan Longoria, who finished the first half on quite a roll with nine hits, including five homers and two doubles, in his last six games.
The Giants totaled 53 runs in their last seven outings. That kind of support would seem to be the perfect complement for Friday's starter, right-hander Shaun Anderson (3-2, 4.23), who has allowed between two and four earned runs in all 10 of his starts.
The 24-year-old rookie has never faced the Brewers.
--Field Level Media