Thursday, April 08, 2010

Your 2010 Giants are 3-0: Braving the Braves

After sweeping the lowly Astros (though in Houston, where they were tough last season), the Giants face the Braves in their home opening series.  The good news is that we will miss their two young studs in the rotation, Jair Jurrgens and Tommy Hanson.  Unfortunately, they have a rotation that is arguably better than our rotation, overall, though only because we have Wellemeyer in the 5th spot (our rotation should be way better once Bumgarner becomes the 5th starter).

Game 1: Tim Hudson vs. Jonathan Sanchez

Hudson came back from TJS successfully last season, and looks to be one of those TJS who come back better than before, as his strikout rate went up significantly, to a good level for him and for pitchers generally.  He's still considered a front-line level pitcher.  He has pitched well in SF, 4 starts, 3.86 ERA.  But he has generally pitched worse on the road than at home, so there is that.

However, Sanchez pitches like a front-line level pitcher when he is on.  He had a sub-4, high-3 ERA in the first half of 2008 and 3.37 ERA in the second half of 2009.  He also had a great spring.  This will be a tough game, two tough pitchers facing each other, and the Braves have a nice lineup led by wunderkind Jason Heyward, long-time top dog, Chipper Jones, and top-line catcher Brian McCann, plus good players like Nate McLouth, Omar Infante, Martin Prado, Melky Cabrera, and Yunel Escobar.

Game 2: Kenshin Kawakami vs. Todd Wellemeyer

Kawakami had a great first season in the MLB, after a good career in Japan.  He also had an even better second half.  He did pitch worse on the road than at home, so there is that, but even then he was good on the road.  He should be a tough pitcher for the Giants to face, as he does not walk that many, and strike out a good amount, though not double, which is what you want to see in a pitcher (though close, 105 K:57 BB).

Wellemeyer, unfortunately, is not as good as Kawakami.  And has never been, as his 2008 season was flukey good, his FIP was much higher.  Have no idea how he will do in SF, but the hope is the news that his fastball this spring is back to 2008-goodness is hopeful.

It does not look good for us, though Kawakami did not do well against us in his one start last season.  Despite the 2009 Giants problems with taking a walk, he gave up 4 walks and only struck out 2 in that start last season, so maybe the new and improved offense may knock him out earlier (he only lasted 5.2 IP in that start).  But since he's normally been a good pitcher and Wellemeyer not so much, we probably are looking at a loss here.

The hope, ultimately, for me, is that Wellemeyer will pitch well enough to hold the position until Bumgarner is ready to come up, say around the All-Star break.  Maybe make Wellemeyer the long reliever, and we send down a reliever with options who isn't doing well.  Hopefully Bumgarner's velocity would have returned, but if not, at least maybe he has a great half season in AAA, duplicating what he has done in his pro career up to now, and he'll get the call then.  Plus, if Wellemeyer does do well, he could hold the spot and Bumgarner could be brought up in September and be a reliever for us then and in the playoffs.

Or better, if he is doing well, we trade him to another team, pick up a nice prospect for him, and insert Bumgarner into the #5 spot.  Then we don't need to send down a reliever.

Game 3: Derek Lowe vs. Tim Lincecum

After questions during the off-season over whether he would even be with the Braves, he ended up pitching in their season opener, and he had a 2 PQS game, giving up 5 hits and 3 walks in 6.0 IP with only 2 K's and giving up 2 HR.  He did not pitch well on the road last season, and at 37 YO for this season, and no longer pitching in LA, he is vulnerable and he's facing Lincecum.  They could be looking to sweep us by this point, but with Lincecum pitching for us, we should win this game, he is one of the most reliable starters in the majors in terms of delivering a dominant start (4 or 5 PQS).

Giants Thoughts

This series can go either way.  Lincecum should win, Wellemeyer should lose, and Sanchez's game is the coin toss.   Though, if we get the mature and improved Sanchez, we should win the series.  The spring gives hope that he will be that for us, but history shows that young players sometimes bounce back and forth erratically in their performance (see Oliver Perez) when they appear ready to emerge (see also Sanchez's 2008 and 2009).  Who know what the new obstacle could be (2008:  stamina; 2009:  new mechanics that don't work for him).

But with a opening series sweep against Houston, the Giants are in good shape.  Even if we go 1-2 against the Braves, we would still be in good shape, 4-2.  No worries, then we face the Pirates for 3 and should grab 2 of 3 there.  Amazing what a sweep can do!

4 comments:

  1. FP Santangelo, the new host of KNBR's Sportsphone in the evening (good upgrade so far, I like listening to him, and listening to his stories from when he was a player; why didn't they do that sooner?) noted something that should tilt things in our favor, though I've seen it not work before (for the Giants, natch): the Giants should be rested for Friday's game, whereas Atlanta is finishing up their home series today and taking a red-eye out to play the Giants tomorrow. Of course, they do gain 3 hours, so that helps, but still, they shouldn't get much of a good rest before tomorrow's game.

    Sanchez's fastball should seem even faster, I would think.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sanchez upside for 2010:

    After a horrible first start in 2008, his first ever start to start the season, so presumably nerves and jitters got to him (happens to the best, Lincecum has had this problem as well), compiled a 3.41 ERA over his next 17 starts, before tiring out (basically to the end of June). That was logical, he had relieved in prior years, and he was at 107 IP at that point, more than twice the IP he threw in 2007. He had his ERA as low as 3.87 as of July 4th.

    In 2009, he, as he admitted later, starting using Johan Santana's mechanics, which is fine for Santana who is many inches shorter, but not so good for the 6'2" Sanchez.

    He was horrible as a starter, always either walking too many, or giving up too many hits, until the Giants took him out of the rotation, righted his mechanics - well, he was finally ready to listen to their suggestions by that point - had two good relieve outings before returning to the starting rotation with his no-hitter.

    From fix: 3.35 ERA, 16 starts, 18 games, 113 K in 96.2 IP

    From no-no: 3.46 ERA, 16 starts, 109 K in 93.2 IP, 42 walks.

    After no-no: 3.83 ERA, 15 starts, 98 K in 84.2 IP, 42 walks.

    Also, he seemed to tire by September, particularly his last two starts, though he was already struggling by his Sept. 12th start. Since, that shows that his stamina was OK up to September and hopefully with more exercise and preparation, he should be ready to go a full season in 2010.

    As you can see above, up-side look like a 3.30-3.50 ERA, probable is 3.80-3.99 ERA, worse-case is a repeat of last season's 4.24 ERA.

    In any of those cases, that is great for a #4 starter, good for a #2 starter.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Chipper News: Chipper Jones may miss the three games against the Giants due to a right oblique injury that forced him out of Thursday's game. That should definitely help our chances in today's home opener with Jonathan Sanchez.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sick and using iPod Touch. Cox using lowe today instead of kawakami. Makes me think of how cox has been successful all these years. Big storm is forecasted for tomorrow and thus it looks likely to be rained out. So cox moved up his #1 starter to today.

    Still, not sure what the right thing to do for sf though. They already stated that they wanted to give young starters rest and moving up Lincecum would not be aligned with that. So they at least are doing what they say they would.

    I was going to write on this soon but the way rotation was set up Cain was set to have seven starts at home and eleven o road. If rainout pushes out start then it would be Zito doing that.

    Looks like win streak may be over the Braves scoring four.

    ReplyDelete

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