Monday, October 11, 2010

Your 2010 Giants are in the Playoffs: Braves, Game 4

What a series it has been.  The starting pitching has delivered but the relief corps has had its yips.  And the offense, besides Posey, has been pretty much shut down.  Fortunately, it has been able to produce just enough to win two and place the Giants in the position of needing to win one of the next two games to advance, while Atlanta needs both.  And the Giants have been facing such challenges since basically the All Star break, and mostly meeting that challenge.

Game 4:  Derek Lowe vs. Bumgarner

Lowe has not pitched that much worse with less than 4 days rest, but he has pitched a bit worse.  Though that is regular season and not playoffs, Jeff Fletcher tweeted that, "Derek Lowe, on 3 or less days of rest: regular season, 5 GS, 3-1, 4.40; Postseason, 4 GS, 1-1, 3.28."  In any case, it is not like he's been a shutdown type of pitcher:  will that be enough for the Giants?  It wasn't like he was that dominant either, he only lasted 5.1 IP, putting their bullpen in there early, which could have worn them down by yesterday's game.

And Bumgarner, of course, is pitching in his first post-season game in the majors, will he be able to amp down and pitch normally?  The MLB has a nice comparison and article on the two of them here.  Check out the nice table comparison they have on the left side, about half-way down.

Here is why I think Bumgarner will follow in his fellow rotation members' footsteps and keep the great streak we have so far going:  in September, where some young arms give out (looking at you San Diego), Bumgarner had 5 starts, pitched 32.0 IP, gave up 31 hits and only 4 walks, while striking out 32, for an insane 8.0 K/BB ratio (remember good pitchers have a ratio of 2.0 or better, and the best pitchers have 2.4 ratio or better).  His 1.13 ERA was second only to Jonathan Sanchez's 1.01 ERA in September.  His stamina should not have been in doubt by some, because he was raised on a farm, where physical hard work is year round.  And, in any case, the last time he pitched was almost two weeks ago, so he should have plenty of rest.

But as we have seen in this series so far, one mistake here or there and the game could be lost.  Should be another close game, but I would have to lean towards Bumgarner.  But Lowe is good, as he showed in his first start, so it should be another tough game.  Still, the Braves have been relatively lucky so far and lucky to be still in the series and not swept.

While some might say the same about the Giants, really, errors lost the second game for the Giants, else they should have won that game, and yesterday's game should have been remembered as Sanchez's dazzling one-hitter with 11 K's, he should have been took out after he labored to get the last two batters out in the 7th, stretching to a full count for both, and even then, Hinske was lucky to hit the ball in the right spot, almost anywhere else in the park and it would have been an out, it was so close to the foul pole that it hit the foul pole screen after landing and ricocheting.  Hopefully that does not screw much with Romo's psyche.  And game one, really, the Giants had a lot of opportunities while the Braves were totally shut down, it was just a matter of time that the Giants would score and win.

Where the Giants have been lucky is that the Braves are limping along without Chipper Jones and Martin Prado, and now they lost Billy Wagner, their closer.  That would be like losing Huff and Sanchez, roughly, and Wilson.  But that's the beauty and the pain of the MLB's long gauntlet of a season, your players have to be able to survive that long stretch and make it into the playoffs semi-healthy enough to continue playing.

The Giants, as Latos pointed out, added a whole bunch of players near the end, but again, that's baseball, I don't know why Latos didn't know that, it's like he never followed a major league baseball season before or something.  And they added two starters at SS and CF, two key positions, while the Giants really only added a starter in RF (Guillen) during the stretch run, plus a couple of situational relievers.  And now in the playoffs, Guillen is out, Sandoval is benched, and Ross and Fontenot are starting.  But I expect Sandoval to regain his starting position should the Giants move on in the playoffs.

Giants Thoughts

The Giants should win the series, with Bumgarner then Lincecum pitching as necessary.  The Braves have not really mustered much of an offense all series long, while their pitching has not been as shutdown as the Giants have.  While the Giants no longer have the longest streak going of 3 or less runs given up, they basically have continued that after that game and into the playoffs.

Ideally, Bumgarner can win today so that Lincecum can start the series against the Phillies.  But even if it took the full five to finish the Braves, looking at the dates, the Giants could start Cain, Sanchez, Lincecum, Bumgarner, then go back to Cain, Sanchez, Lincecum if necessary, with extra rest because Bumgarner is in there.  They could also insert Zito in there if we happen to have a two game lead at any point or push Cain to game 4 if necessary, as that would be four days between starts too.  But ideally, we want Lincecum in that first spot so that he can pitch three times in the series if necessary.

6 comments:

  1. I know Cain (~%60), Sanchez (~65%), and even Bumgarner are flyball pitchers, how do you think that will play into the Phillies favor in their little sandbox of a baseball field?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey,

    Found this video. It is making its way around KNBR and local bay area radio stations. If you like it, you should post it for your readers. Pretty awesome 2010 Giants Playoff Anthem:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AyVdbfyvwso

    ReplyDelete
  3. Will, thanks for letting me know about this, I appreciate it!

    It happens that I retweeted that YouTube video about 8 minutes between you commented here. :^)

    Yes, I agree, awesome Giants playoff anthem. However, I was going to go with another song atop my blog for the Atlanta series, but forgot to do it in my haste to get it done and get back to my vacation. I will do it in a future post but for those who can't wait, I tweeted it earlier today (sorry, haven't figured out how to meld my tweeting with my blogging yet, is there a way to get my tweets listed on the side or something?)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anon, homers are pretty random (but at a rate approximately 10% of all flyballs are homers), so them being flyball pitchers could factor big in how they do in Philly. However, I would note that both Cain and Sanchez has had good overall starts in Philly in 2009 and 2010, especially Sanchez in 2010 and Cain in 2009, but to your point, Cain's 2010 start was marred by the long ball (and unearned runs). So they are capable of shutting down the Phillies in their homepark.

    The key is to minimize everything else, only give up a few hits and walks, so that the homers are solo: they can solo 3 homers and still lose 4-3 to the Giants. That is what Sanchez did this season in Philly, he 2-hit them.

    Some are saying start with Lincecum and Sanchez then go with Cain on the road, to alternate, plus Marty Lurie noted that Cain is prone to long-ball, so you don't want him pitching in Philly for that reason. And that is what happened to Cain this season.

    However, if you look at his stats, his HR/FB% is actually below the 10% mean that pitchers are suppose to regress to, in fact, it is below for both home AND road, pretty close either way (6.7% vs. 7.4%), and in any case, great either way. So I don't know if that is a valid reason to move him to 3 from 2.

    What I do like is that the Phillies best hitters are lefties - Utley and Howard - and thus a lefty could stop them. However, the team has actually hit better against LHP than RHP in terms of OPS, and in fact, Utley led the team in OPS against LHP in 2010. Moreover, he has been equally dangerous, no matter the side, throughout his career.

    Given all that, it seems like throwing Cain against them in game 2 would be the more prudent path.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh, and to clarify, what I meant by "That is what Sanchez did...", is not that he gave up a lot of homers, but that he minimized hits and walks (2 each vs. 7 K's) to Philly.

    FYI, odd splits, 3.26 ERA pre-Molina trade, 2.90 post, but 8.31 ERA in two very bad starts with Molina, 2.88 ERA with Whiteside, mostly first half I presume, 3.07 ERA with Posey mostly second half I presume. And 5.33 ERA with Molina in 2009 vs. 2.30 ERA with Whiteside, plus career 5.34 ERA with Molina and 2.69 ERA with Whiteside. Basically only Whiteside and Posey been able to tame the wild Dirty.

    ReplyDelete
  6. IMO, Posey has done a sensational job catching the Giants pitchers. From Sanchez to Bum to Brian Wilson, they all seem to respond to him in a way that maybe they didn't so much with Molina. A couple of observations:

    1. Buster is much more willing to move "up the ladder" and call for the high hard one in strike out situations.

    2. Buster gives a better target in some cases, most noticeably with Willy when he sets up on the outside corner. I always thought Molina set up too far outside and that resulted in some unnecessary balls/walks. Posey puts the center of his glove right even with the black and all Wilson has to do is fire the ball straight into the mitt and it's either a called strike or a weak foul off or a swing and miss.

    ReplyDelete

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