Thursday, October 16, 2014

Your 2014 Giants: NLCS Game 4: What a Relief

My thoughts following Game 4 of the NLCS.

ogc thoughts

Bullpen combines with Posey and Adams' two bad moves (which led to the two runs that was our lead) was crucial for the win, 6-4.  Petit for President!  He is like found money in a jacket, our Lincecum for this playoff season, totally shut down.  Posey hasn't yet had an extra-base hit, but he did what he needed to, driving in three runs.  He now has 19 RBIs and is only two away from Bonds' franchise record.  Meanwhile, Sandoval gets on base and that's 22 consecutive playoff games with him getting on base, breaking Bonds' franchise record.

If Adams don't try to throw out Perez and just got Blanco out, they would have been out of the inning probably (if Panik still grounds out), and we would go into extra innings and see if Bochy would use Lincecum at all.

So there is no pressure on the Giants tomorrow, plus they got Bumgarner on the mound, 0.76 ERA in the playoffs, 23 K in 23.2 IP, only 3 walks, 7.67 K/BB.  .367 OPS by opposing batters.  69% strikes.

You Gotta Like These Kids!!!

Juan Perez comes in and work a walk, Duffy come in and sacrifices the runners to 2nd and 3rd (remember, Felipe Alou's inability to bunt and advance the runners in 1962 cost the Giants), Panik grounds out but drives in what proves to be the winning run.  Panik also singled in the first, more importantly, advanced Blanco to 3rd, where Posey could drive him in.

There is a new tech on MLB.com called StatCast, and this video and article digs into the details of Perez's dash home to score around the tag by AJP to get him out.  This is pretty good stuff, and it showed Crawford and Blanco running as well.  It also felt nice to beat AJP there.

Petit Performs Prominently

Petit does it again:  shuts down the other team.  This time, 3.0 IP, 1 hit and 1 walk, 4 K's, earns the win (who says the stat ain't got no value?).   Vogie just didn't have it, but Petit saves the game for the Giants.

I felt that he had earned himself a start, but I can understand why Bochy might not do it.  While Petit is comfortable coming in for a failing starter, the starters he might replace are not.  So if Petit is started, and he fails, then who do we go to, a starter who is not used to relieving?

Still, should we make it to the next round, if it were me, I would start Petit, and not only start him, but make him the Game 2 or 3 starter.  Go for the jugular early.

Sabers Missing the Point:  This Bullpen is Worth It

Every time the Giants signed up Affeldt, Romo, Casilla, Lopez to a big contract, the catcalls and naysaying begin.  Fungible asset.  They don't produce enough WAR to justify the money.  Just pick up somebody cheap, the Giants do it all the time, just replace them on the cheap.

This is why the Giants pay these guys the big money.  Affeldt hasn't given up a run in the post-season in 17 consecutive appearances.  Casilla hasn't in 16 appearances, Lopez is at 15 appearances.   Heck, Casilla had not given up a hit since September 11th, over a month ago.  Romo has only given up runs in two appearances in his last 20, one in his last 13 appearances.  

How invaluable have they been for us this post-season?  How invaluable is it knowing that you got guys who understand their roles, who do it so well, and above all that, are consistently good?   How many of these one-run games would we have lost had these guys been even yielding one run as a group, regularly?  Is it worth the collective $22-24M or so for them to advance from the NLDS to the NLCS to leading 3-1 in trying to make the World Series?  Would you rather be efficient, potentially (see, they forget that if you bet wrong in selecting your replacement relievers, there's no easy way to replace that production, no matter how much money you throw at it), or would you rather advance to the next round?  

I would think the A's would have loved to have had a shut down relief corps at their disposal.  They led 7-3 and 8-7, and could not hold either lead.  Not to pick on Otero, because I was disappointed the Giants let him go, but he was a cheap effective reliever for them in the regular season, great numbers, but he gave up 2 runs that ended the game.  Think they wouldn't have loved to have someone better available then.  Or how about Doolittle?  He has a cheap contract, became the closer this season, so relatively inexperienced, and he gave up the tying run in the 9th.

Think they wouldn't have loved to have Casilla?  In fact, he was an A's property until they released him after the 2009 season.  The Giants picked him up for nothing, shaped him up, and he was immediately a very important component of the Giants bullpen, rising to closer role twice, though even today, he says that he don't consider himself the closer, he just goes in when the boss says so.   The Giants are paying him around $5M per season to do his role on the team.  16 straight appearances without a run given up.  Collectively among the four, one run in a total of 60 or so appearances.  

How much is that worth when you expect to make the playoffs every season?

Too Much Rope for Starters

Again, I didn't understand Bochy's insistence on keeping the starter in there.  Vogelsong did not have anything at all in this game.  He was clearly grinding it, and you would have thought after giving up the third run, and now facing a LHH in Wong, who was also white hot as a hitter, and down 3-1, you don't leave him in to face Wong.

I guess it is as some have said, Bochy has lost faith in the middle relievers.  Plus, in this case, didn't want to bring in the LHP yet either, so early in the game.   But Petit was already up at that point, may as well put him in and not risk another run being driven in.

I know some will say that this is just hindsight, but that was my first thought when I heard that Vogie was staying in to face Wong.

If Vogie is this bad, should he get another start this post-season, I hope Bochy will hook him earlier.  There was no sign that he had anything, I would have put Petit in earlier, starting with the third, to be frank, because from the radio report, I saw no purpose in keeping him in there other than wishing and hoping that he don't give up more runs while eating more innings.  I had none faith he had it tonight, and there's no shame in that, it happens, and when it does, especially when you have the luxury of a Petit and Lincecum, you go to your GOTO guy in Petit.

With Petit, keeping Lincecum around is a big question mark, other than his stature and salary.  Especially given his revelation that he has not had his father's help with his mechanics since the 2009 season.  Also, apparently both Machi and Strickland have been downgraded in terms of reliance, at least in this series.

Perhaps we'll see Kontos in the World Series, should we make it to the next round.  He would have been useful in the 7th or earlier in many of these games.  And he's been a good reliever this season.  I actually thought that he was a slamdunk to make the playoff rosters, so I was shocked that he was left off.

However, who would then sit out the World Series.  I could have seen maybe Lincecum before, but not for the World Series, they have carried him so far, I don't see why they won't do it again.  That would leave either Strickland or Machi.  Will be interesting.

Game 5

Seems inevitable - we got our ace going for us at home, plus momentum - but as we saw in 2012, that can go fast, just like that.  That's why I love the way Bochy has taught all the players and got them to buy into the fact that until you are in, you are out.  Every game is important, every game is a must win.

Just like Game 4, we led 2-1 in the series, 70% odds of winning the series, and had we lost the game, that would come crashing down, as then we would be tied 2-2, and basically down to roughly 50% again (one home game, two road).  Instead now we are 3-1, commanding position, and yet, still some odds we lose, probably around 15% or so, small but not insignificant either.

Still, Bumgarner is on a roll.  3 DOM starts (all 5 PQS) so far in the playoffs.  If not for an ill-timed error on a bunt, he might still be continuing his scoreless streak in the playoffs (as it is, he's still continuing the road portion of that).  Plus he's at home, though this year, he has a 4.03 ERA at home, and only 2.22 ERA on the road.  However, over his career, basically same home or road, low 3's, roughly 3.1 ERA.

But the problem was that he started the season with four bad starts at home.  Rest of season, 3.41 ERA at home.   This is why you start with the seasonal data and then peel away some of the data if things change, to get a better view of things, because while seasonal data is good for an overall view, outliers of a game or two or four can skew the view, and once he fixed his problems, he has been great since.  That's why you don't look at the 4.03 ERA, but rather his 3.41 ERA for the rest of the season, as well as his career 3.1 ERA at home.

According to this article on MLB.com, Wainright identified the problems with his mechanics that was affecting his performance.   He thinks that he has solved his problems after working with AJP (ironic, no?) to figure out what was wrong.  They apparently figured it out during that game, after he was taken out of the game.  So it could be a battle between two aces looking to win the game.

However, reading the article, I see that Wainwright talks about his arm feeling better but not feeling healthy.  And he said he was ready to go before Game 1, so his reliability in telling the full truth of his health is not so good.   So I'll believe it when I see it.  The game could be over pretty quick if Wainright is not right, and Bumgarner can then coast to a win.  But if he is right, it will be a battle, which probably leads to a battle between bullpens and offenses again.

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