Saturday, April 23, 2016

Your 2016 Giants: They're Down, They're Really Down

(oops, had wrote this on 4/21, intending for it to publish late that night, but for some reason still had it open and unpublished until now).

The Giants just lost their fifth straight game, and 8 of the last 9 games, sinking to 7-10.  Giants fans are moaning everywhere.

ogc thoughts
The issue seems so very simple once I followed my instincts on what could be wrong and looked at the stats:

Buster Posey to 4/10:
  • .391/.444/.696/1.140
  • .333 BABIP
  • 0.519 WPA
  • 4.80 RE24 (111 run seasonal pace, roughly 11-12 wins)
  • 7 games, 6 starts
  • Giants are 5-2
Buster Posey after Utley foul ball on 4/10:
  • .143/.226/.143/.369
  • .174 BABIP
  • -0.215 WPA
  • -3.29 RE24 
  • 7 games/starts
  • Giants are 2-8 with Posey batting third
The losing streak began on 4/13, starting with the second game that Posey missed.  

Light at end of tunnel?  
  • After 0-for-12 in 3 starts, he had a short 3 game hitting streak, hitting .333/.429/.333/.762, before an 0-for-4 again.  
  • Last five games:  3 walks and 3 K's in 20 AB (85% contact rate and 1.00 K/BB ratio, which are considered good).
All very SSS, so nothing is a statistically significant trend.  But still, clearly, there is a before and after.  

Pitching Has Been Up and Down, but Mostly Up

The pitching has actually been on the borderline good side per PQS, but not great, where we have had 7 DOM starts out of 17 games (41% DOM) and 4 DIS (24% DIS, which is OK, but should be better).  The problem has been our 1-6 record in MID starts, where we should be somewhere in the middle, 3-4, roughly.  Change to that and we are 9-8, which is where the D-backs are right now (since the Giants lost two MID starts to them, it is possible that the two MID changed could involve at least one of the D-back's games).  

I'm not worried yet, though obviously this is not great.  We are not that far back, and Bumgarner hasn't been himself in two of his first three starts.  Once we get BumCuetoSam all going good at the same time, things will be a lot better, I believe. 

Between Peavy and Cain, Cain is the most worrisome and yet not that far away.  He had that great first start.  He seems to be having a dead arm period, perhaps due to his abbreviated spring training.  He dominates for 3-4 innings now and then everything explodes by the 5th inning.  We might see Broadway shipped back to AAA at some point, to bring up Heston for one Cain start, then swap Broadway out for another reliever on the 40-man (Black?  Gregorio?).  Cain might just need one skipped start to rest and maybe work on something.

Peavy I was expecting more out of, but he seems to be down like Cain too.    But he's more like a high wire act, you expect him to fall at some point.  Sometimes he is bad like this, but he's actually been mostly a great pitcher for us, so it seems reasonable that this will be temporary, that he would be good for us again.

Except for the playoffs, where he has come up small, like he has all through his career.   I was not overjoyed when he was resigned, hoping they would get someone better.  But I didn't think he would hurt our chances greatly in the playoffs either, he would be tolerable as our 4th starter, if he was that, or, as I was hoping, moved into long relief if he was the worse starter. 

But generally he has been great at helping us during the season, when healthy, so that helped me tolerate him.  The amazing thing is that while he's not that dominant a pitcher, he does just well enough in all facets of pitching that he was great for us last season, even including the two starts when he should have been DLed for his back:  61% DOM, 11% DIS.  He did not have one DIS start after healing up and returning, putting up a 68% DOM, 0% DIS, which is elite pitching.  He has been dominant just enough, and on a very consistent basis, allowing him to compile a lot of DOM starts while avoiding DIS starts for the most part.

He just seems to do it with mirrors.  And that creates the seed of doubt that sit sin my stomach wondering if he will snap out of this and start pitching well again, or if he's finally entering the final decline phase of his career.  

But his FIP before today's game is at 3.89, and he has a great K/BB ratio, so this just appears to just be a phase.  His BABIP is huge and he has given up more homers than 1.0 HR/9, but that falls within reasonable random range given it's been only 3 starts.  Hopefully today's start is the start of the Good Peavy streaks that he seems to go on since he's been with the Giants, he ended 2014 and 2015 with very long streaks of pitching dominance, and if he can do that while our top 3 of Bumgarner, Cueto, and Samardzija keeps doing well, we will forget about this unfortunately blip of a losing streak when all is said and done.

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