Friday, July 09, 2010

Your 2010 Giants are 45-40: Gnashing the Nats

Whoa, when I wrote that I hate all the specific point analysis because it ignores the journey the team has been on, I did not expect the Giants to show that immediately.  45-40 is now a 86 win projection.  What's real, 92, 86, .500?  It'll be fascinating to watch and find out but I still think they'll be in the hunt for 90 wins.

The key thing is the Buster Posey Busting Out Party that happened in Milwaukee in this last series.  Power to right-center field?!?  Mike Krukow on KNBR this morning compared Posey to a right-handed Will Clark.  But Will the Thrill, despite hitting a homer on his first pitch in the majors (from Nolan Ryan no less), didn't show this power his first season, he ended up with 12 in around 400 AB's, from what I remember.   It was a bit of a let down.

I also like something else that Krukow relayed, that Posey is unsurprised by the what he did the other day, when he had 6 RBIs.  He expects to do well.  He expects to get 6 RBIs.  He expects to hit 4 homers in a series.

Maybe I was wrong, maybe we don't need Pablo to step up, we just need unadulterated, pure Posey unsurprising us regularly.  Now he gets to face the biggest pitching phenom since Tim Lincecum.

Game 1: Stephen Strasburg vs. Cain

MLB Notes:
Giants:  Cain pitched well enough to win in his last start, surrendering three runs in seven innings on Sunday at Colorado. But the Giants' offense took a holiday and Cain received no decision in a 15-inning Giants defeat.
Nationals:  Strasburg hopes to bounce back from his shortest outing of the season, an eventual 6-5 Nationals win against the Mets on Saturday. The right-hander lasted only five innings, allowing two runs on four hits with three walks.

Cain has a 3.30 ERA on the road. Strasburg has a 2.16 ERA at home. Cain had been struggling all June, but finally had a nice 4 PQS game in his last start. And he has handled the Nats well here, 1.59 ERA in his career two starts there. It should be an even battle, both team's offenses came alive in the last series, though have to lean towards Strasburg, he has been very good since coming up. Could end up with a career high in strikeouts against the Giants.

Game 2: Craig Stammen vs. Sanchez

MLB Notes:
Giants: Sanchez emerged victorious last Monday at Milwaukee despite issuing six walks, which hiked his team-high total to 51. He has compensated by remaining difficult to hit, as his .210 opponents' batting average reflects.
Nationals: Stammen's last start -- a 9-5 loss to the Mets on Sunday -- was his worst of the season. He gave up seven runs on eight hits in only 3 1/3 innings and had control issues. In two career starts against San Francisco, Stammen recorded two no-decisions with a 4.38 ERA.

Sanchez has one career start against the Nats and shut them out. Sanchez struggled with 6 walks but still put together a 4 PQS start after really struggling his prior three starts. Stammen has not handled SF before, with a 4.38 ERA, and hasn't pitched that great this season either, with a 5.73 ERA overall and 4.71 ERA at home.

These are the matchups Sanchez is suppose to win for us, facing middle to back of rotation starters like Stammen, who is not that good so far. Should be a Giants win.

Game 3: Livan Hernadez vs. Bumgarner

MLB Notes:
Giants: The 20-year-old rookie recorded his first Major League victory last Tuesday at Milwaukee, limiting the Brewers to three hits in eight shutout innings. He became the No. 5 starter when Todd Wellemeyer went on the 15-day DL.
Nationals: The right-hander has pitched well thus far in the month of July, but came away with two no-decisions against the Mets and Padres. Hernandez gave up a total of five runs in the two games, both Nationals wins. He is 4-7 in 18 career starts against the Giants.

Bumgarner, much like Posey, has been everything advertised and more. He has impressed with each start, and improved with each start as he has acclimated to pitching in the majors. Not only that, but he handled strong offensive teams AT THEIR HITTER'S HOME PARKS with no problem. Clearly spending time in AAA early was good for him because he was horrible in the spring against major league hitters.

Livan has been reborn again. 3.12 ERA is the best he has had since he was with the team before in 2005. And he owes it all to home cooking, 2.10, but he has benefited totally from a unsustainable .257 BABIP. Still, that don't mean that he'll lose it all in this game. But the reverting to the mean has been already happening, he was very good in April and May, but has been struggling in June and July.

It should be a good battle between two good pitchers. Hard to call it either way. I feel like a homer if I pick Bumgarner because he has pitched so well against other dominant offensive teams, but Livan has pitched well against the Giants in his career. However, that dominance was before, he has not pitched well against the Giants in recent years, including earlier this season. Have to lean towards Bumgarner for this one.

Giants Thoughts

With Strasburg going against us, one would think that the Nats would be favored to win the series, but we now have a top notch rotation from top to bottom, and we can clean up on other teams' back of rotation-type guys like Stammen. And while facing Livan had normally been a bad proposition for us, he has not been good against us for a while, and Posey should be a good antidote to his slow stuff, plus Bumgarner's stuff appears to be something that opposing teams don't really handle very well on their first try against him. And with Cain facing Strasburg, we should have a chance of sweeping the Nationals too, though they beat SD 2-1 in the last series, they have been struggling for almost a month now.

The amazing thing about the offense jumping as it has been is that Huff and Posey had been separated or accompanied by a slumping Burrell during the road trip, though that's where his good bat helps out, despite not hitting, he has still been taking walks and his OBP was decent during his decline. Plus Sandoval has been struggling - again - for roughly three weeks. Hopefully Posey hot hitting will ease Pablo's mind and let him be himself again.

And it has not been just the offense that has been delivering, the pitching has been doing it too. They held Milwaukee to 7 runs in 4 games. They were a top 3 scoring team in the NL when we faced them, and our pitching was able to shut them down, for the most part, .207/.329/.259/.588, particularly their power. While our batters took it to them at the same ballpark, in the same conditions.

With SD facing COL, if we can win this series, we should gain on one of them (and they are playing in Coors, so SD's pitchers ERA might take a beating, like the Cards). LA is facing the struggling Cubs, so who knows how that will work out. Still, the Giants should be in OK shape when the All Star break comes, particularly if SD loses their series.

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