Opposite dugout: Giants find themselves in a familiar situation in the hunt for October

giants-logo.pngManager: Bruce Bochy (9th season)

Record: 60-53

Last 10 games: 3-7

Who to watch: C Buster Posey (.331/.391/.501 with 16 HR, 75 RBIs), SS Brandon Crawford (.267/.326/.495 with 19 HR, 71 RBIs), 3B Matt Duffy (.304/.340/.458 with 51 RBIs), LHP Madison Bumgarner (13-6, 3.15 ERA), RHP Santiago Casilla (27 saves, 3.89 ERA)

Season series vs. Nationals: 0-3

Pitching probables:

Aug. 13: RHP Stephen Strasburg vs. RHP Ryan Vogelsong, 10:15 p.m., MASN
Aug. 14: RHP Max Scherzer vs. RHP Matt Cain, 10:15 p.m., MASN2
Aug. 15: LHP Gio Gonzalez vs. RHP Jake Peavy, 10:05 p.m., MASN2
Aug. 16: RHP Joe Ross vs. LHP Madison Bumgarner, 4:05 p.m., MASN2

Inside the Giants:

Are the Giants in the exact place they want to be at this point in the season? Dispite coming off a four-game sweep by the Cubs and splitting a two-game home series with the Astros, history would say so. San Francisco is currently 3 1/2 games behind the Dodgers in the National League West and 4 1/2 games behind the Cubbies for the second wild card spot. But let's take a look back. At this point in the season in 2010, the Giants were 2 1/2 games back from the Padres in the West and led the Phillies for the wild card spot by one game (remember the Wild Card Game wasn't implemented until 2012, so there was only one wild card team to make the postseason with the division winners). The Giants ended up winning the West that season on their way to winning their first of three World Series championships in the Bay Area.

On this date last year, San Fran was 5 1/2 games back from the Dodgers in the West and tied with the Cardinals for the second wild card spot. Nationals fans remember the Giants crushing the Pirates in the Wild Card game and then beating the Nats 3-1 in the division series on their way to winning their third world championship in five years. So do you think Brucy Bochy and his boys are worried about where they stand now? A good guess would be no.

The usual Giants are doing their usual stuff as we hit mid-August. Catch Buster Posey continues to be one of the league leaders in all aspects of the game. His NL-best .998 fielding percentage behind the plate accompanies his ranking among the top five in RBIs (75), batting average (.331) and WAR (5.8). He also ranks sixth with a .391 on-base percentage, .892 OPS and 128 hits, of which he has recorded at least one in 12 of his last 13 games. Even with second baseman Joe Panik on the disabled list with back issues, first baseman Brandon Belt and shortstop Brandon Crawford have contributed with strong numbers. Belt is slashing .272/.344/.493 with 17 home runs and 52 RBIs, while Crawford is batting for a .267/.326/.495 line and has knocked 19 homers with 71 RBIs.

But a Giant you might not be as familiar with is rookie third baseman Matt Duffy. After playing in only 34 games last season, Duffy has become an everyday player for the Giants this season, as he has made himself a serious contender for this year's National League Rookie of the Year. He leads all qualified rookies in the NL in batting average (.304) and ranks in the top five in OBP (.340). He also leads the league's rookies in hits (112) after having recorded a hit in 11 of his last 13 games. Duffy is also second with 51 RBIs, .458 slugging percentage and a 3.7 WAR, and third with 48 runs scored and a .798 OPS among qualified rookies.

Ryan Vogelsong will start this series at AT&T Park against Stephen Strasburg. Vogelsong has done his part as both a starter and reliever this season for Bruce Bochy. After being a starter for most of the first half, he went to the bullpen after the All-Star break, but returned to the rotation in place of right-hander Mike Leake, who came over via a trade with the Reds on July 30, but was recently placed on the disabled list with a hamstring injury. Vogelsong is 6-7 with a 4.12 ERA as a starter versus 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in 11 2/3 innings as a reliever. Last week was his first start since July 11 as he went four innings and gave up three runs on six hits in a loss to the Cubs. On July 5 at Nats Park, he pitched four innings, giving up three hits, one run, three walks and two strikeouts while getting a no-decision in a 3-1 loss to the Nationals.

Matt Cain will make just his eighth start of the season on Friday night against Max Scherzer. Cain's start to the season was delayed due to a stint on the DL with a strained flexor tendon near his elbow, which he suffered in his last start of spring training. He made his season debut on July 2 in Miami and has gone 2-3 with a 5.59 ERA. He hasn't gone further than six innings in any of his first seven starts, where left-handed batters are hitting .333 against him while righties bat .291. Cain has a 3.00 ERA at home versus a 6.84 ERA on the road. He is 5-5 with a 3.34 ERA in 14 career starts against Washington.

Right-hander Jake Peavy will be the third straight veteran the Giants will throw on the mound against the Nats. After missing 10 weeks with a back strain after his second start of the season, Peavy returned to San Francisco's rotation on July 3 to face the Nationals. He had a strong outing in which he pitched 6 1/3 innings and gave up only three hits with four walks and four strikeouts. But Clint Robinson's two-run homer in the seventh turned out to be the deciding factor in Peavy's loss. Since then, Peavy is 2-2 with a 2.72 ERA in six starts for a 2-5 record and 3.75 ERA on the season. He is 4-6 with a 3.79 ERA in 13 career appearances (12 starts) against the Nats.

Reigning World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner will close out the series against Joe Ross. Bumgarner is also the MVP of the Giants rotation, leading the team with a 13-6 record, 3.15 ERA and 160 strikeouts. The lefty is also coming of his second complete game of the season when he went the distance on Tuesday against the Astros, giving up five hits, one run, no walks and striking out 12. That's quite a differenct outcome than what Bumgarner faced at Nats Park on the Fourth of July. He only managed to go five innings while giving up a season-high six runs on eight hits, including two first-inning home runs to Michael A. Taylor and Bryce Harper. Also, Bumgarner is winless in his last four starts against the Nats with his last win coming in 2012. But if his latest performance is any indication, Bumgarner is capable of putting his Nationals ghosts behind him as he drives the Giants toward October.

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