Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Your 2010 Giants are 2-1 in the NLCS: MadBum Rush the Phillies

It was tweeted by Jeff Fletcher of AOL that teams with a 2-1 lead in a 7 game series have won 30 of the 40 playoff series.  So the Giants are in a very good position from this history.  However, I would also note that this means that 25% of the time, this team has lost the series.  So it is not a gimmee, there is still a significant chance that the Phillies could roar back.

However, as I noted in my original series blog post, Madison Bumgarner, he of 1.13 ERA in last month of season and the steely nerves of a veteran player twice his age, is going for us against Joe Blanton, who had horrible stats for the season, which looked like a gimmee.  But it is not as easy as I once thought.

Game 4:  Joe Blanton vs. Bumgarner

Shame on me for looking at just his surface seasonal stats:  Joe Blanton has been on a huge roll since the All-Star break.  3.48 ERA overall, 3.33 ERA in his 15 starts (hat tip to KNBR for noting his great performance at the end).  10 DOM starts and only 2 DIS starts in those 15 starts, excellent numbers if kept up over a full season.  He won't be as much of a gimme as I thought in my original post.

If there is any consolation, most of his 5 non-DOM starts (4), happened in his last 10 starts, and both DIS starts happened then.  He did man up, however, and delivered four 5 PQS starts in his last six starts.  Basically he hit his bad patch in August but was great in September.  That is the exact opposite of what he has done in his career, he's usually good in August and horrible in September.

However, his last start was on September 29th and October 3rd is the last time he pitched in an actual game, 16 days of rest since his relief appearance, and he did not do well in that game, 1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, BB, and one of the hits were a homer.  And he has not done well with extra rest, interestingly enough:

4 days rest:  3.83 ERA (104 starts)
5 days rest:  4.80 ERA (64 starts)
6+ days rest: 4.97 ERA (22 starts)

Basically, when he don't get exactly 4 days rest, he gets rusty a lot, one day alone has made a huge difference, almost a run more, and he has pitched in a significant number of games in 5+ days rest situations to suggest that this is not a fluke.

And, also interestingly enough, he has built his career on keeping LHH down, he is not even that great against RHH.  The batting line for LHH is worse than for RHH:

LHH:  .267/.320/.406/.726
RHH:  .278/.325/.440/.764

So the Giants will be facing a very tough opponent, who should be thoroughly rested, though possibly rusty.  The Giants might need to capitalize on that rustiness early in the game, to knock him out before he finds his strike, and get into a good groove.  For some reason, RHH can hit Blanton for extra power, could be our key to winning today, as we will have Burrell, Ross, and Posey in there, plus Franchez and probably Uribe. If he had that batting line for RHH and the usual platoon advantage that LHH would have on him, he would not be a major league pitcher today, he's probably a AAAA pitcher bouncing up and down to fill in a rotation spot.

Giants Hitters Vs. Blanton

Bill James matchup report shows that the Giants hitters don't have a great history against Blanton.  Some key names and numbers:

Burrell:  3-12, 3 HR, BB, 5 K
Fontenot:  2-9
Huff:  4-20, BB, 2 K (due for hits, low BABIP)
Ishikawa:  3-4, K
Posey:  1-3, K
Renteria:  0-3
Ross:  3-11, 1 HR, 6 K though
Rowand:  2-4
Franchez:  2-7, K
Sandoval:  0-6, K
Torres:  1-3, HR, K
Uribe:  1-11, 3 K

Sandoval Need to Step:  Could be Ready to Step Up

The speculation among the Giants beat writers is that Sandoval will get a shot at Blanton.  Obviously, his numbers are not good, but that was probably half in August when Pablo was not doing well.  Of course, he hasn't been doing well recently either, but drew a walk in his last PH assignment, so I think he might be ready to contribute.  I think for the Giants to win this series and hopefully win the World Series, Sandoval is among the key players who needs to heat up NOW.  We cannot rely on Cody Ross to carry us all the way through (though if he's capable of that, all the better :^)  (Just saw a tweeted factoid:  apparently Ross was also claimed by the Phillies but the Giants got him because they had a worse record;  funny how fate works!).  Sandoval is in today's lineup.

Other key guys are the usual suspects that we all can name, pretty much our whole lineup, really:  Torres, Posey, Huff, Burrell, Uribe.  For our long-term benefits, I really want Posey or Sandoval to take the lead, we've seen Posey do it during the season, so we know we have it in him (maybe next year he can be like Will Clark and take over a series), but Sandoval we are still learning, his ups and downs this season has put a lot of doubt in people's minds (not in mind, though), so it would be nice if he started blasting balls out like he does when he's zoned in.

Given that Sandoval was patient enough to battle for 7 pitches, 3 of which were strikes, to take a walk in a situation where we needed every base runner we could get (down 6-1), where someone might be tempted to hit a 6-run homer with the bases empty, he was able to hold back, take the balls given him, foul off the third strike, I have to think that he is now not swinging at everything hoping to connect, like he was the first two games, his first two playoff games, he might be ready to Kung Fu the ball.

If we had a functioning Kung Fu Panda, that would put pressure on the opposing pitchers and give our other hitters better pitches as well, particularly if he confounds the pitchers by hitting good pitches for line-drive hits (much like how Ross has been doing that so far).  A Pandoval would also, as Bochy likes to say, keep the line moving, much like they did yesterday to score two runs.  And the occasional homer would help as well.

Torres Could be Key But Not Today

There has been a lot of stats noting how important it is for a team to score first, and the key for the Giants to score first in 2010 has been Andres Torres.  Bochy said specifically that he was resting Torres yesterday so that he can regain his focus, but still kept him out of today's lineup.  Torres also mentioned some problems with his ADD medicine but that he's got that fixed now, though maybe not enough for Bochy's tastes.

If he can return to his 2009-10 goodness, that would obviously be a huge plus for our offense, particularly if he contributes a homer here and there.  I think he's going to be ready as well, assuming that ADD med problem was a big part of his struggles.  But obviously we won't find out today.

Getting Bumgarner the lead early would allow him to be aggressive in going after hitters.  Our pitchers seem to gain an advantage when they get the lead, they have been very successful when given the lead.  Hence the need for our offense to wake up, but with no Torres, have to hope Renteria and Sanchez up top can do something for Huff, Posey, Burrell, Ross to drive in.  Sandoval is batting 7th and Rowand 8th.   Rowand says that he's really strong right now, it would be great if he catches on fire, but he struck out twice yesterday.  Have to assume the line drive double makes Bochy thinks he is in his groove, Bochy unfortunately has seen Rowand at his best and worse the past few seasons, hopefully he can tell when Rowand is on or not.

3 comments:

  1. Also, nice interviews with Cain and Bochy here: http://sanfrancisco.giants.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20101018&content_id=15702534&notebook_id=15702512&vkey=notebook_sf&c_id=sf

    Tidbits:

    LINEUP CHANGES: "Q. In your experience managing postseason, what's your general philosophy about making lineup changes in terms of waiting too long or being real quick with them? What has come to be your philosophy about that? Because in a seven game series it's tough to make that call.

    BRUCE BOCHY: Really probably doesn't change during the course of the season, the playoffs. I know there's a greater sense of urgency. But at the same time you don't want to send panic with everybody. But there are times when you have to tweak it. You go with the hot hand. Move things around just to shake it up. And we did it during the season, and we'll do it in the playoffs. And like I said, we know Andres, he's scuffling right now a little bit. But it may be time for a change there. But you also have to remember who got you here, who brought you to the dance, and stay with them and hopefully they come around for you."

    PANDA: "BRUCE BOCHY: If you look at what Pablo did last year, he was our No. 3 hitter. So it affected our lineup. And we had to adjust there after his good month of April and started having his ups and downs. So we moved him around a little bit trying to find a comfortable spot for him, including the 8 spot. He's shown moments of coming out of it and has had his struggles. But this kid's been working hard and you're probably going to see him in the lineup here. He's a guy that we need, gives us another threat in there and he can hit, and you're hoping that a couple of days off have settled him down and working on some things in BP, get him back going."

    This is what I've been alluding to in my posts about Pablo, the magnitude of the playoffs was getting to Pablo, he needed to get settled down. That walk was only possible via patience.

    PROCEDURE/PROCESS OD DECISION MAKING: "Q. When you go through the process of deciding when you're going to change the lineup or do something with the roster, what exactly is the procedure that you like to go through: Who do you like to talk to, when, what order? In some specificity, how do you go about making those choices?

    BRUCE BOCHY: Probably do a lot of it at night. You wake up in the middle of the night, things like that. These things are always going through your head. But talk to the staff, get them together, we have meetings. Spend a lot of time with Sabes (Brian Sabean). We talk about the order, guys playing. And just trying to get all the information you can get, see if you're missing something or somebody comes up with a little different idea that you may like better. So I get everybody involved, the whole coaching staff, and then you come up with what you think is your best lineup. Now, at this time, numbers are nice to look at, the stats against certain pitchers, but you also want to go with who is swinging well or who may be struggling. And that comes into play. "

    ReplyDelete
  2. Here is one reason I laugh at those who ridicule when I slice and dice data. I realize there are limits to that regarding small samples, but with context, you can add value.

    Most media were talking about how the Phillies "own" Cain, citing his 0-3 record and 6.23 ERA in five career starts. But looking at the starts, his bad starts were early in his career, when he was still figuring things out. Looking at his PQS results, 2009 was a breakthrough year for Cain and he continued that in 2010, heck, moved it even further. He's clearly a better pitcher the past two seasons and while he pitched poorly against them when he was a lesser pitcher, he has dominated them (albeit only two starts) in his starts in 2009-2010.

    Looking at the overall data, you would think the Phils would demolish him, but looking more finely into the data, you find that he has changed as a pitcher and the new improved Cain has demolished the Phils.

    Don't guarantee he will, but gives you a whole different perspective on what the possibilities for his game against the Phillies, as I was quietly hopeful (Hamels could outpitch him, afterall), instead of waiting for a car wreck.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Well, MadBum wasn't so good, but the hitters picked him up tonight. Now the Giants have to face the Phillie's big 3 again and try to win one of those games. The Giants have their own big 3 though!

    I'm thinking now that some of the hype has been scrubbed off Timmy vs Doc, tomorrow's game could be a truly epic pitching duel.

    ReplyDelete

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