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Could recent success halt trade of Bumgarner?

Harper impressing in July; Yelich looks to join elite bunch
@matthewhleach
July 19, 2019

We’ve all been waiting for Madison Bumgarner’s final start in a Giants uniform for weeks now. What if it’s not imminent after all? A 13-3 surge has brought San Francisco from the basement of the NL West to the edge of contention, and suddenly the choices for Farhan Zaidi and

We’ve all been waiting for Madison Bumgarner’s final start in a Giants uniform for weeks now. What if it’s not imminent after all?

A 13-3 surge has brought San Francisco from the basement of the NL West to the edge of contention, and suddenly the choices for Farhan Zaidi and Co. might be a little more difficult. Or maybe they’re not. The math is not terribly kind, and the mission remains the same: Build the next championship Giants team.

These are the questions the front office must answer: How real is the hot streak, how good are the Giants, and how realistic are their postseason chances? Because, yes, they’re 2 1/2 games out of the second Wild Card. But they’re also fifth place in a race with at least eight contenders, where only two will play beyond the end of the regular season.

There are some reasons to believe. Buster Posey, Evan Longoria, and Brandon Belt, three of the leaders of the team’s offensive charge in recent weeks, all have histories of production. It wouldn’t be shocking for any or all of them to have a big second half.

There are more reasons not to. Mike Yastrzemski, he of the career .263/.341/.441 Minor League line, is slugging .541 in July. Donovan Solano is hitting .417 and slugging over .700. Alex Dickerson is hitting .448 and slugging over .800. And Longoria is dealing with plantar fasciitis, an injury that doesn’t tend to go away quickly.

The offense has been the key, and that probably makes the decision a bit easier in the end. This offense just isn’t that good. It’s almost certainly better than it showed the first couple of months, but the front office can’t expect the lineup to do anything like this for the remainder of the season.

So while it’s been fun, the right move is almost certainly still to stay the course. Don’t panic, to be clear. Don’t deal players just to deal them. But there won’t be another opportunity like this, with trade chips like Bumgarner, Will Smith, and Sam Dyson. Again, the goal here is not to hang around the middle. It’s to hang banners, and a midseason hot streak does not change that.

Player of the week: Bryce Harper

So maybe Harper isn’t going to take MVP honors this season, as some people (yours truly included) predicted when he made the move to Philadelphia. And yes, there are still some disconcerting signs from Harper, most notably a strikeout rate that’s above 25 percent. But he’s quietly been very good lately, with Thursday marking his eighth multi-hit game in the last 21 games. During that time he’s hitting .316/.433/.570. He’s also striking out less (21 in his last 115 plate appearances) and walking a little bit more. There’s a lot that’s going wrong for the Phillies lately, but Harper is not on that list.

Stat of the week: .330/30/30

There’s the 30/30 club, and it’s plenty exclusive. There’s the 50/30 club, which Christian Yelich is trying to create this year. In between, there’s the .330/30/30 club, of which Yelich could become the seventh member. Yelich is hitting .331. He’s already over 30 homers, with 34, and he’s rapidly closing in on 30 steals, with 23. Six players in history have done all three in the same season: Mookie Betts, Ryan Braun, Vladimir Guerrero, Larry Walker, Ellis Burks, and Willie Mays.

Looking ahead: Series of the week

As of this moment, the Cubs have created a little breathing room -- just a little -- atop the NL Central. But the Brewers will have a chance to close that right back up next weekend. In the midst of a long, difficult road trip, Chicago will visit Milwaukee for three games, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. That follows a visit to San Francisco and precedes three games in St. Louis. Oh, and by the way, they meet again at Wrigley a week later.

Matthew Leach is an editor and reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach.