I did my gloomy process of looking at the next 27 games and doing my best to predict the outcomes and what that means for the final record. Being in a gloomy mood, my base case is pretty bad, my bad case an absolute implosion and my good case we get to 89 games. You can probably do better.
For fun, I created a template if people want to add their predictions and the template tallies up people's answers (the top template cannot be edited; find an empty template below). I set up 20 blank templates which seems pretty optimistic in terms of engagement but can add more if needed. The link is here.
I did mine. Again, probably overly pessimistic (need to stay on brand), and ended with 81-80 as our base case, 75 wins in my bad case and 89 in my good.
One thing that does jump out is this is really a brutal schedule: HOU (+172) @ home, LAA (-64) @ home; STL (-21) @ STL, ATL (+89) @ home, LAN (+213) @ LAN x 2, SFN (+142) x3, two in SF, 1 at home.
We are at +68 run differential, which seems decent, though worse than most of our competition. The problem is that we peaked at +89 on May 29th. So in the subsequent 81 games we are -21 run differential, with most of that loss coming recently. So it will take quite a revival to rally. Snell looked great, albeit against Arizona. Musgrove has been great. Paddack looked strong on his return. The problem is Darvish still looks off and we don't have a functional #5.
What our offense will do is a bit question mark. FTJ seems is still playing well but that joy and spark seem gone, either due to the team's drop and/or the move to the OF (still think that is a bad move; don't tinker with your best player down the stretch). I think the move is because, especially after the idiotic addition of Frazier, we now have too many IF and FTJ is the least reliable defender. If you insist on playing Frazier despite his 50 wRC+ (480 OPS) in 114 PAs (team high during this time period is Machado at 138 for context), get him to LF in a platoon with Pham or something.
I don't know obviously, but Machado seems sleep walking a bit as well and my guess is that FTJ back in IF might up the apparent intensity a bit. I generally think these guys are professionals and their ups and downs are a function of randomness and difficulty of staying always locked in, more than "giving up" or other narratives. That written, Machado and FTJ look really flat with FTJ in the OF, if that means anything.
I think if we open the next series with FTJ in the OF and Frazier starting, it is hard to see much changing. Unless there is a strong body of evidence that SS is bad for FTJ's non-throwing shoulder (landing on it when diving?) He seems to have injured it batting and sliding, so not sure why defending seems suddenly forbidden. Honestly, it just looks like they are making room for Frazier and Hosmer PA's (Hosmer, at least, has been hitting better in the second half).
As grumpy and dour as this is, and, re-reading it, I think a well supported position, give me a few wins against HOU and all will look a lot better. We are overdue for that spark. Get FTJ back to SS and it might happen.