Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Your 2010 Giants are 22-16: Back to D-Backs

The Giants get out of San D with a much needed victory, done in stunning fashion, a 2-run BOMB by Andres Torres, a key 2-run hit by Matt Downs, then what proved to be even more key RBI by Velez.  I had a double take on the game last night because suddenly I heard the distinct rally call for the Giants BUT THEY WERE IN PETCO, but according to Baggarly's account, San Diego was so excited by their division leading 'Dres that they could only muster less than 13,000 fans in attendance, and most of the 'Dres fans left once the game reached extra innings and it was mostly Giants fans left.  It was quite the inspiring, come from behind wins that sometimes ignites teams, or at the least give them the confidence that they can do this in the future.

Now the Giants get to face the D-backs at a key point, while the D-backs is reeling a little.  The D-backs came off a 7 game losing streak by winning 2 of 4 afterward, losing yesterday (hopefully in practice for the Giants :^).  They are last in the NL West and they are worse at home than on the road, having lost six in a row at home and coming back home from a road trip.  Seems like a time for the Giants to make hay, particularly after the exciting ending to the COME FROM BEHIND WIN OVER THE PADRES, but we get two tough pitchers facing us for the D-backs.

Game 1:  Ian Kennedy vs. Wellemeyer

Kennedy was one of the two key pitchers they picked up in their big trades in the off-season (Edwin Jackson is the other one).  While Jackson has been horrible, Kennedy has been everything they were hoping for, 3.58 ERA, 7.2 K/9, 3.08 K/BB.  Excellent, he is fulfilling what the prospect hounds projected for him.

Amazingly, he has been better at home than on the road, incredibly good:  incredible because Chase Park is a known hitter's paradise (hence why Adam LaRoche turned down more money from the Giants to play here instead *loser*).  Last season, Bill James had the park factor for runs at 119, for the past three seasons, 115.  Both slightly behind Colorado's park factors (that tells you right there how good that park is for hitters).

So unless he's got the perfect pitch for the park (in which case we are in deep trouble going forward), he should be due for a regression to the mean when a team tattoos him mercilessly.  To his credit, he held the high scoring Phillies and Brewers down, though oddly he had the most trouble with the 'Dres in his other home game.  Yes, three games is extreme small samples, but still that is what he has accomplished so far.

He has had two bad starts so far out of eight, one against the D-gers in LA and the other against Cubs in Chicago.  One odd (LA, pitcher's park), the other expected (Chicago's park is third behind Arizona in park factor for runs).

The key thing to note, I suppose, is that despite pitching well in general, he has a lot of no-decisions as his team was either unable to score enough to win games for him (at least in time for him to get the win) or the bullpen blew the game for him (or both).

That appears to be our best hope of beating him because Wellemeyer has been horrible on the road and now he's pitching in a hitter's Mecca.  I have to think that barring any miracles, the D-backs should win this game.

Game 2:  Rodirigo Lopez vs. Lincecum

Lopez, however, has been a rambling journeyman, after a great first season with the Orioles in 2002, he has been trying to recapture that magic ever since, plus hasn't had a full-time regular starting job since 2006 season ended, but unable to do it until now, at 34 YO, in an extreme hitter's park, carrying a 3.81 ERA.  And he has done worse at home, 4.50 ERA vs. 3.12 on the road (4 starts each), so at least that makes some sense.

Looks like it should be a Wincecum Day, though the clouds on that is that Lincecum was not sharp in his last start, so the question is whether that will carry over to this start or was just an aberration.  With a DOM of 80%+ the past two seasons, that start should just be an aberration, plus while that start was not a DOM start, his PQS was still 3, he was only one strikeout away from a 4 PQS start.

Giants Thoughts

While one would not see Kennedy and Lopez and think "Arizona's two best starters", they are currently the two leaders in ERA on the team.  Haren has been bashed around, Jackson, as I noted, has not transitioned well, and their 5th starter is Kris Benson ('nuff said!).  Here would have been a better spot (if an off day afforded it) to swap the starts, the Giants could possibly sweep had it been Lincecum followed by Wellemeyer facing Kennedy and Lopez.  Still, Kennedy is due any day to implode at home, why not us?  We have beat up on good pitchers for most of this season.

The big news is that Freddie Sanchez has been activated for today and the logical presumption is that he will be starting at 2B.  Bochy was uncommitted, but come on, if you are bringing him up, you got to start him, right?  He was also not sure where to bat him, 2nd or 3rd.  With Torres doing well batting 2nd, Bochy is thinking of maybe batting Sanchez third and moving Panda to clean-up (where I think he belongs anyhow).

Part of that, at least for today, is that Bochy is resting Huff and giving a start to Ishikawa.  Nice gift, hitting in an extreme hitter's park.  But he has been good in the press, has said all the right things and been patient, at least publicly, with his lack of playing.  And given how well Huff has hit and fielded, he's hopefully smart enough to see that Huff deserves to play most of the time.  So he deserves a gift like this (next one in Colorado?).

We have been wasting Sandoval batting third.  Sanchez batting third is not ideal to me, but I'll take it if that means that Sandoval is batting cleanup.  Besides, Rowand and Torres have been doing well in the top two spots, though I wouldn't mind a flip-flop of that too and have Torres leading off and Rowand batting 2nd.

Torres, Rowand, Sanchez, Pandoval, Uribe, Molina, Ishikawa, and Schierholtz.  Nate has cooled off a lot since his 3 hit game a couple of weeks ago, so put him back to where he has hit better.  The good thing to note is that despite not hitting well right now, even when he's not hitting, he's striking out at a low rate (10%) so I would just keep playing him since his defense is so good that it helps make up for the lack of hitting, and when the balls start falling in again (BABIP .206).

Likewise, Sandoval has not been striking out a lot either during his May funk, at least until his 2 strikeout game in the extra-inning win over the 'Dres.  I've been wondering if the fiddling around with his hitting affected him this month, causing him to not know how to get out of his funk, whereas previously he would just swing and hit and all would be good.  Sometimes you don't want to fiddle with your golden goose.

Or it could just be a really unlucky streak (.190 BABIP versus his career .342) that he will just have battle out of it.  This is his first big slump, though I would note that he had a similar bad streak at the start of the 2009 season that most fans forgot about (though not as deep).  It might take something as simple as moving him to clean-up to break him out of his funk, hopefully.

Meanwhile, on the farm, Bumgarner continues to amaze, in a similar fashion to his 2008 start, where he was horrible initially, but then put it together to have an spectacularly season after all.  There was a nice article on him on MiLB.com, where he explained that two changes helped to change his season around.  The first was a mechanical change that worked and boosted his confidence as it added back velocity, pushing his fastball back to the low-90's.  The second was adding a cutter to his repertoire, which he said was his best pitch in the two games he used it in game situations.  He also mentioned that his curveball was working well.

On the other hand, Posey has cooled off from his hot streak during the first 12 days of May.  In his last 6 games, he is hitting .238/.333/.286/.619 in 21 AB.  Still, he's hitting .339/.446/.645/1.091 for the month of May which is pretty good.  Hopefully, the Giants keep him down there to hone his defensive skills, plus with Molina and Huff doing OK, they don't need Posey up here.  I expect they will ride the Torres horse until his bat cools off, and hopefully they start giving Bowker starts to try to get his bat started, if he can just translate what he did for AAA up here, that would make our offense much better.

1 comment:

  1. Oops, posted this on the wrong blog entry:

    Wow, that was quite a beating, clearly the worse of the season. There are going to be those type of days for every team, but I'm sure the chicken lunatic fringe are out running around, stating that the sky is falling. Again. It gets so old.

    It was also a We'll-lose-a-meyer type of day. Baggarly notes that he could be skipped on his next start because of an off-day. The Bumgarner watch begins, as he lowered his ERA again with a fine effort (DrB notes his great last start here: http://whenthegiantscometotown.blogspot.com/2010/05/down-on-farm-05-17-2010.html)

    Here's wild thought: maybe we'll just start him at home, stick him in the rotation at home, take him out on the road.

    Put that with my idea of a 6-man rotation when there is few off-days in August, and that will save a start or two off the arms of our young starters.

    Because every skipped start right now means another start on another of our top 4 starter's arm. While Zito probably can take it, I would like to lessen the usage on the young hurlers' arms.

    And, particularly if we do make the playoffs this season, our starters will have an extra load on their arms that they will have to handle, which could affect their performance next season if they are overstressed.

    Thinking off the top of my head, could this be what caused Sheets health to finally go off the rails, the Brewers making the playoffs?

    Still, other pitchers pitch regularly into the playoffs, like the Yankees and Red Sox pitchers, and they seem to survive for the most part (Chien-Ming Wang, however, didn't and he was one of their young guys).

    News I forgot to mention was the consequence of Freddie Sanchez being added to the 25-man: who gets optioned off the island? Unsurprisingly, it was Eugenio Velez.

    People had problems playing him while he was up here, but he's up here, we don't have that many bats on the bench, particularly right-handed ones with both Uribe and Torres starting regularly now, heck, even Downs too. And Rohlinger will be around because the plan is for him to be our future Uribe, the handy utility MI who can play SS, 2B, and 3B, so he'll get his chances to contribute later, whereas Velez's time up was fated, tied to Sanchez's rise.

    ReplyDelete

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