Pitching key for Giants' success

Tim Lincecum, fresh off his first no-hitter, has started to look strong as of late. Brad Mills/US Presswire

Fresh off their second World Series triumph in three seasons, the San Francisco Giants began the 2013 campaign ranked fourth in the ESPN Power Rankings. Now ranked 21st for the second straight week, they have to count as one of, if not the biggest, disappointments this year heading into the All-Star break. They enter the break eight games below .500 and have been outscored by 40 runs. And yet, the National League West is still theirs for the taking.

Let's start with the little matter of the Arizona Diamondbacks' "dominance" of the division thus far. While they have led the division since the end of May, they have spent exactly two days with a cushion of better than four games. They enter the break just 2.5 games ahead of the Dodgers and just 6.5 ahead of the Giants. The D-backs also seem hell-bent on making things as hard on themselves as possible. Even though the team's best pitcher, Patrick Corbin, isn't on an innings limit, they are slotting him last in the rotation following the All-Star break, ensuring that he receives the fewest starts of the group down the stretch. Rather than entrusting their final rotation spot to top prospect Tyler Skaggs, who has allowed just three runs in his last two starts, rumors persist that Arizona will look to add another starting pitcher instead.