Programming note: Giants-Dodgers coverage starts tonight at 6:30 p.m. with Giants Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
LOS ANGELES –- What if the Giants beat Clayton Kershaw in Wednesday’s series finale at Dodger Stadium and clinch no less than a Wild Card berth? Or what if the Milwaukee Brewers lose, guaranteeing the Giants a postseason appearance regardless of the outcome here?
Would they they just shower and get on the bus?
“Well, it is weird,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, whose club remains the slightest bit alive to win the NL West. “It’s a little different situation. We’ll see.”
We’ll see about a lot of things in the next couple days. Will Madison Bumgarner make his start in Sunday’s regular-season finale, even if home-field advantage is at stake in a potential wild card game? What will the playoff matchups look like?
This much is true as of this moment: Unless the Milwaukee Brewers finish 4-0 and the Giants finish 0-4, the five NL playoff teams will be the Washington Nationals. St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates and the Giants.
The overwhelming odds have the Giants as one of the two NL Wild Card entrants, facing Pittsburgh -– unless the streaking Pirates (trailing by one in the loss column) can catch the St. Louis Cardinals for the NL Central title.
(Reminder: If the Cards and Pirates finish with identical records, gone are the days when they’d look at who won the season series and declare a division winner. The Wild Card goes to an elimination game, not to a best-of-five series. So the two clubs would stage a playoff game Monday, with the loser falling into the Wild Card game on Wednesday. In other words, if you’re a Giants fan, you might want to root for that scenario. It can’t hurt if your opponent is forced to burn more pitching.)
Since the Giants had tied at least a tie for a Wild Card after Tuesday’s games, Bochy was asked his thoughts on starting Bumgarner to win home field or saving him to start the first playoff game.
“You have to give me two or three days to really tackle that question,” Bochy said. “Right now, we’ll do all we can to win every single game.”
And for now, Bumgarner will prepare to start Sunday against the San Diego Padres.
Assuming the Giants are a Wild Card team, Bochy said, “We’ll do all we can to get that home game. At the same time, you’ve got to be smart with what your options are.”
The Wild Card team with the best regular-season record plays host to the one-game playoff. The Pirates are a game up on the Giants, but it’s essentially a two-game edge because they hold the tiebreaker. If the Giants and Cardinals were the Wild Cards and finished with identical records, the Giants hold the tiebreaker by virtue of winning the regular-season series between the clubs.