Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Your 2018 Giants: Opening Day Roster

The Giants Opening Day Roster was released after the last exhibition game.  NBC Sports reported who made it:
  • SP:  Blach, Cueto, Holland, Stratton (in rotation order)
  • RP:  The eight-man bullpen currently consists of Mark Melancon, Sam Dyson, Tony Watson, Hunter Strickland, Josh Osich, Cory Gearrin, Pierce Johnson and Roberto Gomez, although Melancon could open the year on the DL.
  • C:  Posey, Hundley (Sandoval is the emergency catcher)
  • IF:  Belt, Panik, Longoria, Crawford; Sandoval, Tomlinson
  • OF:  Pence, Jackson, McCutchen; Blanco, Hernandez
Pavlovic had more info on the two new guys:
Johnson and Gomez were the last two to make it, and both benefited from the fact that they can throw two to three innings for a staff that doesn’t have a designated long man. Johnson is a particularly cool story. He was part of the first round of cuts on March 12 but threw well in minor league camp and again when he was called up for spot duty with the big leaguers. In seven spring innings, he allowed just one hit.
ogc thoughts

No Duggar For You

The first obvious thing is that this means that Duggar did not make the Opening Day roster.  The article had interviews with Bochy and Duggar, and basically the Giants felt that he as not ready to start full-time in the majors, and thus sent him to AAA so that he can start regularly and show that he can hit in the upper levels before they give him an MLB starting job.  I read somewhere that Duggar's hitting declined once it was MLB starters throwing in earnest preparation for the season, so that probably was the dagger in his chances.

I was hoping he would make the team, to give the fans some excitement given the gut punches the last week has been.  But I know in my heart that this is for the best.  I want him to stay up in the majors when he gets his promotion, and not be sent back down again because he was not ready.   And he has not really been tested in the upper minors much, his lost time last season due to injuries was costly for his development as a hitter.

Still, given how much better his defense is in CF, part of me wonders if he can make up for his lack of offensive development with his better defense.  As noteworthy Jackson's leaping catch last year made his defense look, his advanced defensive numbers have not been good, and neither has Gorkys or Gregor (though reportedly Blanco's speed is back to where it was his first time with the Giants; he's been doing special exercises which has been a fountain of youth for his speed, apparently).

Gorky Survives the Cut

Another thing that was noticeable was that Gorkys made the roster.   All that talk about four OF was just talk, I misread that totally.  And I had thought it was kind of odd to do that, even before Fernandez injured his arm, as I was trying to figure out who would the 9th RP be, it was not that sure who would make the team.  I should have listened to my gut.  Of course, this means that Blanco's spot didn't come from Gorkys or Parker (Holland got his), so I would guess he got Bumgarner's 60-day DL spot.

Haft felt that defense will be very important given the loss of two of our best starters, and I think that could be the reason why Gorkys was retained.  Not that Duggar isn't good defensively, as I believe that he's better than Hernandez defensively, but I'm talking Gorkys vs. Parker for the last roster spot, and Gorkys can play CF at an OK level whereas Parker can't, and hence why Parker was the one DFAed.

Two New Guys

Roberto Gomez and Pierce Johnson were the beneficiaries of the injuries to the pitching staff.  They got the spot that would have gone to Fernandez if he didn't strain his UCL and the spot that the long reliever (either Holland or Blach) would have gotten.  Sounds like they can go multiple innings, per the beat reports, which probably helped seal the deal for them.   Sound like they got some 95+ MPH fastballs as well.  They will be middle innings relievers, and it seems like the expectation among fans and beat writers is that outside of Cueto, we don't have anyone we can rely on to at least 6 innings regularly.

Gomez was one of the guys I was wondering if he would be DFAed to fit new guys into the 40-man, and instead, not only was he not DFAed, but he made the team.  He had a nice spring, 3.24 ERA, 8 appearances, 8.1 IP, 13 K/4 BB for a 14.0 K/9, 4.3 BB/9, 3.25 K/BB.   He is 28 years old this season, so he's getting on the old side. 

He was previously in the Rays farm system, and the Giants scouts must have seen something they like, because he has not really performed that well in the minors, hence why the Rays let him go, and why he was not signed by any MLB team for a couple years, until the Giants picked him up as a minor league free agent. 

He did OK with Sacramento, but 4.07 ERA does not scream "MLB quality pitcher", and hence why I thought he might be the one to go.  But I missed that he actually did well for the Giants last season per his peripherals, and that's probably why they are trying him out as well.  His main negative last season in the majors was all the hits, and if he can eliminate that problem, he'll be a good bullpen arm.

A thought crossed my mind when I saw that he made it:  as I've been noting a lot lately, the Giants will need 40-man spots this season.  They will need to fish or cut bait on a number of prospects on the 40-man if they are bringing up anyone among Duggar, Shaw, Suarez, who are not on the 40-man yet, or any of the vets that the Giants are stashing in the minors, like Heston, d'Arnaud, Manny Parra, Casey Kelly (I had drafted him in my dynasty league, he was an Ohtani type, hitter/pitcher, but quickly settled on pitching), and others.  Thus, it would make sense to kick the tires on some of the question marks on the 40-man and see how they do in the majors.  So we might see Herb at some point soon, depending on what Gomez and Johnson does, to kick those tires.

Both of them are on the older side, and not much MLB experience.  Basically, the Giants need arms, but they don't need good pitching per se, but guys who can eat up some innings if necessary, since there is no long reliever right now.  May as well give shots to guys who at least did well this spring, as a reward, as well as give them the opportunity to show what they got.  It would make the decision making on whether to keep them or not on the 40-man easier.  Hence why they got chosen, and not, say, Okert, who has been up before, and had a great spring as well, he will definitely be in the mix sometime in 2018.

Pierce Johnson is interesting.  The Giants picked him up on waivers from the Cubs last season.  He had a nice spring:  8 appearances, 0.00 ERA, 7.0 IP, 9 K/3 BB, 11.6 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, 3.00 K/BB, 0.571 WHIP.  He's 27 years old this season.  He's had a lot of success in A and AA, but mixed in AAA.  Still, while he had a 4.31 ERA in AAA last season, he had a 12.3 K/9 and 2.74 K/BB (but poor 4.5 BB/9), in his first season as a reliever, as he was a starter for most of his career.  So he's a strikeout machine, and it will be interesting to see if the Giants can tame him enough to be effective in the majors.

Wondering About Fernandez

I'm still wondering what's happening with Fernandez, he should technically need a 40-man roster spot, unless the rules allows him to go straight to the 60-day DL since he's probably getting TJS; but what if the second opinion says he can get by with rest, then he can't go on the 60-day DL, he would need to then be on the 40-man roster.

I wanted to keep him, so this accomplishes it for the most part.  This reminds me of how we got Strickland, who was recovering from TJS when the Pirates waived him, and so the Giants snatched him up (like they got Pierce Johnson last season from the Cubs; though he didn't have TJS).   Hopefully we can duplicate that success, that would be a huge boon to our bullpen going forward having his velocity in there.  But there has been many an arm we got who never blossomed for us (like Alfredo Simon, though he eventually was successful in the majors after he started pitching like he did before, the Giants tried to change him and it didn't take; of course, it was 6 years later that he pitched well...)

Wondering About Holland

I've been looking into Holland's games for the past few seasons, and wonder if his main problem is that he lost his stamina to be a starting pitcher for a full season while he was out injured, and whether he's approaching the point where he's ready to be a full-time starting pitcher, perhaps by next season.  He has been starting off each season as if he had his old abilities - good 2-range ERA - but then he starts to wobble, and then totally loses it.  And the length of innings his good times last appears to be hewing to the oft-said Krukow bromide that pitchers should add 20-30 innings to their usage in order to avoid injuries.

Holland's last full season was in 2013, and it was his best, with a 3.42 ERA, nice 8.0 K/9 and good 2.7 BB/9 for a superior 2.95 K/BB ratio. Injuries prevented him from pitching a  full season in good health from 2014-2016, hence why he's been saying this spring that the positive about 2017 was that he was healthy the whole season. He pitched 37.0 IP in 2014, 58.2 IP in 2015, 107.1 IP in 2016, so his arm has not been throwing for that many innings before 2017.

In 2015, he did not pitch much, just 58.2 IP for the season. He went on the DL after an inning in his first start. However, when he returned to action much later in the season, he was good for 4 starts, 29.1 IP with 2.15 ERA.

In 2016, he was excellent in his first five starts, covering 29.0 IP, only 5.6 K/9 but okay 2.25 K/BB ratio, for a great 2.48 ERA/3.62 FIP. Then he started having downs and ups, but he was still okay overall up to his 11th start, when he still had 4.53 ERA/4.29 FIP in 59.2 IP, and then he was mostly down after that, with a few ups. He was also great for two starts after he returned from the DL (i.e. his arm got enough rest to return to full strength), before he lost it all again.

In 2017, he was excellent in his first ten starts, covering 60.2 IP, 2.37 ERA/4.47 FIP, 7.7 K/9, 2.17 K/BB, 8 of 10 quality starts per Game Score. And okay up to 82.1 IP. Then his season went off the rails again.

So, in 2015, he was very good for 29.1 IP, but horrible after, then in 2016, he was very good for 29.0 IP, and okay for 59.2 IP, but horrible after, then in 2017, he was very good for 60.2 IP, and okay for 82.1 IP, but horrible after.

So he seems to be building up his IP stamina in the way Krukow always talk about (but our best pitchers always seem to beat; then again, Cain, Lowry, and Lincecum had short careers), which was adding about 20-30 IP per season to build up strenght. So based on this pattern, that means that he'll be great in 2018, for about 80-90 IP, good for 100-120 IP, then horrible afterward, at which point, he probably should be the long reliever, where the extra rest would do him good.

That 80-90 IP point, where he's great, would be reached around the time Bumgarner is ready to return, so at that point, we could move Bumgarner into Holland's spot, and shift him to long relief, where he can rest, throw well when used because of the rest, build up some more arm strength for next season, and then battle for a rotation spot in 2019.

Is that crazy or does it make sense?

3 comments:

  1. I think your analysis of Holland’s progress makes sense, all right. It’s also a relief to turn to a calm discussion of the Giants rather than a loud clanging of the alarm bells and lurid flashing of the red danger lights, such as one finds on other Giants’ sites.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks!

      And thanks! Yeah, the internet tends to go off the deep end a lot, that's why I haven't gone to the major Giants watering hole in years, that blogger uses a lot of humor, but generally feeds into the negativity of a lot of the people there. I also get attacked a lot for no logical (to me) reason, so why go?

      And that's been the way it goes for a long time now, I remember when Schmidt (yeah,that long ago) was out until mid-late May, and the team was doing so-so, and I told everyone that it would turn around once he rejoined the rotation, and it did.

      That's not to minimize that it's horribly bad to lose Bumgarner and Samardzija, I do get how bad that is.

      But I think we can survive their loss because our offense is that much better than it has been for years (probably as far back as when Bonds was powering the offense). We have back ups in case our top two hitters (Posey and Belt) are either not available or not hitting that well, we now have a similar pair in McCutchen and Longoria, and if one is not going, most likely the other is, which balances out, and you don't get as many peaks and valleys in the offense.

      In addition, I've been talking about Stratton, and NOW he has to step up, but I was already expecting him to step up, as he was great in his 9-start stint at the end of last season, and I think he will be able to duplicate that level of ability over a full season in 2018. And that will help to get over the injuries.

      And as noted, Holland has looked good every year early on, so hopefully that continues in 2018.

      Delete
    2. Yeah, I've been seeing a lot of the generalists take the knee jerk approach (like Beyond the Box Score) to the Giants situation, and put them in 4th place (or 5th), even though the systems still had the Giants in second place.

      That's why I don't care for generalists, they only look at things at 50,000 feet and don't know the team well enough to even know key facts about the players, like Cueto battling blisters or whatnot.

      Delete

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