We are, and youll forgive the conclusion-jumping just this once, growing perilously close to the dream scenario Giants fanhistorians have had for a decade.Trying to beat Dusty Baker in the playoffs. And him trying to beat the Giants.Either that, or the Giants will become the first team to test the new and as-yet-unproven Disappearing Strasburg Effect.But first, your required caveat. This NL West thing is not yet over, you are wrong to think it is, and if you say it where someone else can hear you, may you be struck with a fully-loaded beer stein while in church.That said, the locals widened their lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers to a healthy six full games the equivalent of having a weeks head start in a three-week race. This would seem to eliminate the need for further Should-We-Make-Lincecum-The-Closer-Or-Just-Shoot-Him-And-Be-Done-With-It scenarios.It would also eliminate facing the wild-card winner, which for the moment looks like Atlanta-vs.-Somebody. That leaves only two options for playoff openers. The De-Strasburged Washingtons, or the Re-Vottod Cincinnatis.And the Giants are 3-9 against the Nats and Bakers, so pace at your will.Cincinnati is about to clinch the Central, being up 10 on St. Louis and all, and Washington has 7 on Atlanta. Thus, if you must assume the Giants are in (duck!), you must also assume the others are in as well. And that the Giants cant catch either of them. Very tenuous stuff, this assuming thing, but were writing today and not a week from now, so play along, damn it.RELATED: MLB Wild Card standings
Thus, the real race now is to see whether the Nationals or Reds finish with the best record and draw the wild-card winner, which will come from a field that surely includes Atlanta and could also field St. Louis, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and maybe even the resurgent Philadelphia or Milwaukee. Arizona is only five back, but its hard to extend the spirit of hope and charity that deep into the standings.But lets return to the local issue (well get to the Fightin McCarthys across the Bay tomorrow). Whether the Giants would rather face a team without Stephen Strasburg or with Dusty Baker.And now, lets project.Assuming that neither Bruce Bochy (who never does), Davey Johnson nor Baker changes their rotation between now and the playoffs, they would send this group of starters in this order:WASHINGTON
Ross Detwiler (9-6, 3.23): Years from now, youll ask yourself, Who was their fourth starter? You wont remember the answer.
Edwin Jackson (9-10, 3.85): Has the worst WHIP, and its a very tolerable 1.21.
Gio Gonzalez (19-7, 2.93): Worth every dime the As would never have paid him.
Jordan Zimmermann (10-8, 3.01): The example the Nationals use when defending the Strasburg move. Hes good.CINCINNATI
Homer Bailey (10-9, 4.03): Most likely to be dropped, in favor of Mike Leake (8-9, 4.69).
Bronson Arroyo (12-7, 3.66): Nasty when aroused. It means hes a good pitcher, but I wanted to see if you were paying attention.
Johnny Cueto (17-8, 2.71): Their best.
Mat Latos (12-4, 3.72): A beloved favorite of Giant fans, beat them twice this year.
Barry Zito or Ryan VogelsongYou dont need the stats. Youve memorized them. And youre allowed to argue Zito-Vogelsong until youre blue in the mouth. Just watch those steins.But this would mean that Game 3 would feature the best pitching matchups, and we cannot guarantee that the three teams might not take the extra days between clinching and the playoff openers October 6 or 7 to realign their rotations.Oh, youll still get Cain v. Cueto or Cain v. Gonzalez (or Strasburg, if Washington general manager Mike Rizzo can convince Scott Boras to vacation in the bottom of the Sargasso Sea for a month), but just earlier.Either way, it looks like the Giants will be playing against a team that has had its way with them while they had Webmaster Melky Cabrera in the lineup.And Dusty Baker there to bring up all the good and weird history that was the Giants of the 90s and early Oughts. So many laughs. So many tears. So many lies, and so many lies to cover up the original lies. Playoff baseball at its finest.And in the meantime, so many variables, so much pre-series nonsense, and so much Web space to fill. In all, life is good, as long as nobody is menacing you with a stein.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com