The Giants were the fourth-best team in baseball behind only the Cubs, Rangers and Nationals. The Dodgers were 33-31.
But a lot has changed since then.
Since then, the Dodgers are 36-24, tied with the Indians for the best winning percentage in baseball, and that’s with Clayton Kershaw having pitched only three times since. The Giants are 30-30 since that last meeting and are 11-23 since the All-Star break, worst in the majors.
What’s there to know from a statistical standpoint heading into their series that starts Tuesday?
Dodgers hitters hot, Giants hitters not
The Dodgers have made up much of the ground on the strength of their bats, and we’re not even counting Adrián González, who had three home runs in a win over the Reds on Monday.
Shortstop Corey Seager looks headed toward Rookie of the Year honors. He’s hitting .385 since the All-Star Break, second-best in the National League. Justin Turner is batting .320 and leads the NL with 23 extra-base hits since the break. Catcher Yasmani Grandal (more on him in a moment) has the third-highest home run rate since the All-Star break (7.7 percent) and has a 1.191 OPS (second in the NL) since July 31.
The Dodgers have also gotten timely hits. They’re batting .272 with runners in scoring position since the break, they hit .246 prior to the break.
A couple of the Giants' best bats before the break have gone cold. Brandon Belt is hitting .213 with a .714 OPS since the All-Star break. Buster Posey is hitting .288, but his power has disappeared. He slugged .478 prior to the break, but is at .387 since.
The Giants are not getting timely hits. Their .216 batting average with runners in scoring position ranks third-worst in the majors since the All-Star break (they hit .263 prior).
Had the Giants' starting pitching held up, this might not have been an issue. But the ERAs of their top starters have jumped. Madison Bumgarner (1.94 to 3.13), Johnny Cueto (2.47 to 4.25) and Jeff Samardzija (3.91 to 4.89) have all had issues.
What to watch for: Battle of the pitch framers
Last week, we referenced Posey’s value as a pitch-framer and to reiterate, he rates best in baseball, getting his pitchers 160.5 extra called strikes above what the average catcher would have gotten on the same collection of taken pitches.
The two pitchers who have benefited the most pitch the first two games of the series – Bumgarner and Cueto. They rank first and second in the majors in that stat for pitchers (39.1 extra strikes for Bumgarner, 33.5 for Cueto). In other words, when they pitch, home plate seems to be a little larger for them.
Grandal doesn’t rate far behind Posey. He’s second in the majors with 134.8 called strikes above average. In fact, over the last three seasons, Posey and Grandal rank first and second in the majors in this stat and are separated by just over one extra called strike (Posey 435.5, Grandal 434.1). They are the standard-setters for the rest of the sport.
Grandal’s strength is getting the high strike against hitters from both sides, and getting a few extra inches on the outside corner against right-handed batters, as this image shows.
The biggest beneficiary of Grandal’s work is Tuesday’s starter, Kenta Maeda. He’s eighth in the majors in strikes looking above average.
Coincidentally, Bumgarner, Cueto and Maeda rank back-to-back-to-back (ninth through 11th) in the NL in how often they get called strikes (minimum 100 innings).
-- Mark Simon