Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Your 2010 Giants are 62-46: Mano-a-Mano Vs. Atlanta

The Giants were able to pull off the series split against Colorado, though I had daydreams of a sweep early in the game against Ubaldo, we were getting runners on base.  Still, that was the best to hope for, having to face Ubaldo after he appeared to straighten himself out in his last start.  Still, it would have been nice to sweep, that would have pushed them further down.  That's OK, it was Ubaldo and we're still 5.5 games ahead of them, and better yet, did not get swept ourselves.

Now the Giants travel to Hotlanta for a four-game series against their top four starters.  This is going to be another tough series, as I noted, because Atlanta leads the NL East and plays very well at home.  However, they are only 14-13 since July 1st.

Don't have to dig deep into the stats to say that the Giants have to shoot for a split this series and be happy for that.  We need to remember, 20-8 July or not, that on the road, playing .500 is the usual goal there.  Now that we are so close to SD and leading the Wild Card race, we can now focus on more easily attainable goals, 20-8 months don't happen every month - do they?

Game 1: Jair Jurrgens vs. Lincecum

MLB Notes:
Giants:  "The Freak" looks less freak-like in his last start, unveiling a new windup Lincecum hopes will help better command his pitches. The new mechanics -- which included him raising his hands over his head -- looked good after a rocky start against L.A.
Braves:  Jurrjens has gone 3-1 with a 3.52 ERA in the six starts he's made since returning from the disabled list. These numbers have been marred by the four-run innings he has endured during his past two starts, which have otherwise been impressive.
Jurrjens has had a poor season, and had a DL stint this season, but he was ace-worthy the past two seasons and has a 3.52 ERA since returning, so you always have to beware.  As noted, he did give up 4 runs and 5 runs respectively the past two starts, but his peripherals look great so he was just unlucky in those starts, also his last start was in Cincinnati, a strong hitter's park.  Hopefully the bad luck will continue against the Giants.  But with a 3.15 ERA at home for his career, and 1.50 for this season, it will be tough for the Giants to score on him.

Still, it's Lincecum and we have been spoiled fans to expect to win any start he has.  But he has a 4.08 ERA in Atlanta and they have a better offense this season with ROY leader, Jason Heyward.  Have to call the game pretty even but with a lean towards Lincecum because he's Mr. Cy Young.

Game 2: Tommy Hanson vs. Zito

MLB Notes:
Giants:  A late homer by Pat Burrell helped Zito avoid his his third straight loss Saturday, but Zito has to be wondering if he'll ever get run support. The lefty has gotten zero runs in his last three outings and is 1-2 with a 1.88 ERA in the second half.
Braves:  Manager Bobby Cox said Hanson was dominant Sunday while allowing the Reds only a pair of runs in a fifth inning that was marred by Alex Gonzalez's two-out error. The 23-year-old right-hander is 0-2 with a 1.83 ERA in his past three starts.
Hanson has had a good season, but not as good as last season, and pitched much worse at home this season, 4.35 ERA.  He has done much better since the ASB though, 2.55 ERA and 1.83 ERA in his last three starts.

Zito, as usual in his career, is on fire after the ASB.  He has had a better ERA in the second half than in the first in 8 out of his 10 seasons.  And one of the two where he was worse, he was only marginally worse and still good in any case (2003:  3.28 ERA H1, 3.33 ERA H2).  Though I should also note that there were two seasons where the gap was not that much better either (2004 and 2005).  As you can see below, he has been very good for us since the second half of 2009:

Zito - H1 - H2
2001- 4.58 - 2.29
2002- 3.49 - 1.92
2003- 3.28 - 3.33
2004- 4.52 - 4.32
2005- 3.91 - 3.81
2006- 3.29 - 4.55
2007- 4.90 - 4.11
2008- 5.62 - 4.59
2009- 5.01 - 2.83
2010- 3.76 - 1.88

And he has ruled in Atlanta, 1.79 ERA for his career in 3 starts, he is 3-0 in his career, even in 2008 and 2009.  Still, should be a strong even battle between two good pitchers, with a lean towards Zito for all these factors.

Game 3: Tim Hudson vs. Cain

MLB Notes:
Giants:  It took 15 tries, but Cain finally beat the Dodgers in his last outing, holding them to only four hits in 7 2/3 innings as he earned his first career win against L.A. It was the fourth straight win for Cain, who is 2-1 in four starts against Atlanta.
Braves:  Hudson's damage against the Giants in his April 9 season debut was limited to two seventh-inning runs. The All-Star hurler has allowed one earned run or fewer in four of his past five starts. He is 7-3 with a 2.24 ERA in 10 home starts.
Hudson has been rejuvenated since TJS, .  He has pitched well against the Giants, particularly recently, best season since 2003 when he was still in Oakland (speaking of which, weren't the A's totally robbed in this deal, none of the players they got for Hudson did much in the majors at all, and here he is, still going strong, throwing ace-worthy numbers;  people forget that trades are not without risk, trading one of our starters could yield nothing in return).

Cain has had one start in Atlanta, but it was a good one:  7 IP, 6 hits, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K in 2008.  And he has done well on the road this season, 3.50 ERA.  Plus, much like Zito, he has usually pitched stronger in the second half, his ERA is 1.52 in the second half this season.

As nicely as Cain has done, Hudson has been going great.  Have to call this even due to Cain's goodness, but have to lean heavily towards Hudson.

Game 4: Derek Lowe vs. Sanchez

MLB Notes:
Giants:  Sanchez's last outing against Colorado showed why he wasn't traded at the Trade Deadline. He struck out nine Rockies -- including seven in a row -- and scattered only three hits to earn his eight win of the year.
Braves:  Lowe impressed Tuesday when he allowed the Mets one run in six innings and didn't issue a walk for the first time in 25 starts, dating back to Sept. 21. He pitched around seven walks and limited the Giants to one run in six innings on April 10.

Lowe is probably the worse pitcher of the four.  He's having another poor season for the Braves, in his second season with them on the big money contract, 4.44 ERA, 4.91 ERA in second half, but 3.92 ERA at home.  He handled the Giants pretty well in SF, though, earlier this season, 6 IP, 1 R/ER, but he was very lucky as he gave up 4 hits and 7 walks, while striking out 4.  And he has a 3.00 ERA against the Giants in his career.

Sanchez has only one start there, 6 IP, 3 ER, but it was a 5 PQS start, a DOM start.  And being a lefty, he should be able to neutralize Jason Heyward to an extent.  Plus, he just came off manhandling the D-Rox IN COLORADO!  Have to call this even, though, Lowe has owned us for a long time, despite his struggles in Atlanta the past two season and Sanchez has been inconsistent enough that you are not really sure who you are getting, but people need to remember that his ERA is still only 3.38, which is excellent, people forget about that when proposing trading him, they just remember him from the previous seasons.

Giants Thoughts

Krukow has been saying in the past week that Buster Posey's effect on the club is very similar to what he remembered Will Clark doing for his club, but the two couldn't be more different in personality.  I can see that.  This team has been very different from before Posey took over as starting catcher.  It is just like when Clark took over, it is his team now, Posey's team, even with all the great pitching we have.

This will be the biggest test the team has faced in the Posey era.  Four games on the road against the Braves equally good to great pitchers.  Mano-a-mano, we need to battle and at least split the series.  But the Braves have played very well at home, 35-14: basically they have won 3 of 4 at home.  That is what the Giants are up against.

But I think that they are up to the challenge.  I have a quiet calm going inside.  They are doing what they are capable of when things are going good.  I think they will be able to handle things when things turn bad, and it will again, I just don't see the Giants charging like this into the playoffs.  That would be a historic type run of greatness that is very rarely seen.

Still, being so close to the lead and in front for the wild card, they don't have to play great to reach the playoffs, they just need to take care of things going forward and play well, roughly .550-.600 winning percentage from this point on, 54 games left, or roughly 30-24 to 32-22, which would put them at 92-94 wins for the season.  They were able to play around that level during the season even before Posey joined the team.

I think the Giants will probably split the series.  Winning is not probable, neither is losing, I think.  But it would be a great statement if they were to win the series, that should tell the NL that the Giants have arrived, as they have played only mediocre to OK teams since they started the streak.  This is their first really good team, playoff bound, since the streak started.

And if they lose, well, Atlanta has been great at home, so it won't be a good sign, but not necessarily a bad one either, except if they were swept or something, but that does not look likely to happen.  But you never know.  It will be interesting.

Go Giants!

1 comment:

  1. I think, really (as you noted way up re: Lincecum) what I think people - like me - are taking for granted is the starting pitching. You look at the ERAs, you look at the DOM/DIS, and it's really pretty amazing. One is starting to expect such performance, and I think that's kinda cool.

    There will be an "oh no" point in the coming weeks, but I disagree on one point - the team's "best hitter coming into the season" has been way below par, and I think he'll have a good rest of the season.

    This team is good.

    ReplyDelete

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