Friday, March 23, 2018

Your 2018 Giants: Samardzija Not Superman: Neither is Bumgarner

News just came out about Samardzija's pectoral muscle strain.  It is unknown yet how long he will be out, but he's going on the DL to start the season.  But this is considered a good thing, per NBC Sports Alex Pavlovic, as it is not a worse issue.  The plan is to rest Samardzija for 10 days, and then ramp things up again.  Bochy says that he don't think it will take long to get him back on the team, and the latest estimates on twitter says that he'll be back in 3-4 weeks.

Of course, we don't know what will happen when he crank things up again...

Oh, It's All F'ed UP:  Bumgarner Fractured Hand

Ugh, now it looks like this is all blown to hell:  Bumgarner has been hit on his left hand by a comebacker.  One video shot looked like he got in in the palm of his hand, versus his fingers.  And that's apparently where the break is, on the outer had, between the pinky and the palm.  I'm going to leave this as is, with a few extra comments based on the Bum news, I can't believe this, but it looks like the rotation is Cueto, Holland, Stratton, and Blach, and hopefully Samardzija returns in time to take the 5th starter's role in the rotation, though they could slot him in anywhere.

According to Baggarly on Twitter, he will get pins put in, which will take 4-6 weeks to heal, at which point the pins are removed.  Baggarly says it will not be short DL but he should be back before the All-Star break.
ogc thoughts

While losing Shark is a setback, I don't see it as derailing the Giants 2018 season [obviously, Bumgarner out is another thing].  I can see Stratton making up for Samardzija being out and Holland stepping up and being an okay back of the rotation starter for the Giants.

Stratton Can Pitch As Well As If Not Better Than 2017 Samardzija

Stratton, as I had wrote about here, has elite spin rate AND results, and that's why he ended 2017 with nine starts at 2.42 ERA, 43 K in 44.2 IP, though also 20 BB;  that's a 3.79 FIP, which would replace and improve upon Samardzija's production last season (and duplicate Samardzija's production in 2016).  And if the Giants have figured out how to highlight his better pitches and reduce his worst ones, they might be able to improve his performance.

Before the injury, I was hoping for Stratton to be a bonus production that reduces the risk of Samardzija having another 2017, and now that this has happened, I think Stratton can step up due to his elite curveball and other pitches. [But I don't think he can replace Bumgarner, so things don't look good right now]

Holland Looking Okay Too, Good Enough for Back O'Rotation

Holland has looked okay this spring. He says hitters see him throwing like before his injury, when he was a good pitcher. He had a horrible 2017, but he was a nice back of rotation starter in the first half, with ERA of 4.26 at exactly the half way point, the end of June.  And he had 8 of 10 good starts, per game score, to start the season. He now needs to tap into some of that, and he has looked good overall this spring (coincidentally, 4.20 ERA at the moment, but 18 K/5 BB in 15.0 IP:  10.8 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, that's great over a full season, and his BB/9 aligns with his career numbers before and after his injury, his only bad season was in 2017 for BB/9).

2017 was his first season back pitching healthy, and his first where he pitched a whole season since he's been dealing with injuries. So he probably experienced some dead arm in the second half, which, now that he stretched out his arm some, he can handle this year better, hopefully.  Though, even there, he only threw 135 innings last season, so he's probably going to be gassed in the last month or two, and so the Giants might look into skipping his turn once or twice to give him a breather.  Even if he doesn't do okay, and can't duplicate what he did last season in the first half, one of Beede or Suarez should be ready to come up and contribute by mid season, and replace Holland, if necessary.

Giants Starting Rotation Formula:  3/1/1

In any case, the Giants were able to win a lot of games from 2009 to 2012 with this formula: three good pitchers up top (at least two ace level performances), one okay average-ish one (which was Zito in that period, basically), and one so bad that they tried a number of starters hoping for okay. Even if Holland falters, I can see Blach filling the okay role, so I think we are covered by Shark's injury, at least for a while.  So, right now, since we are not sure when Samardzija will come back,  I see Bumgarner and Cueto as the aces, Stratton as the good pitcher to round out the top three, then an average performance, which both Holland and Blach look capable of producing, then a bad cast of 5th starters, which covers if one of the two of Holland and Blach, fails to hold the starting position until Samardzija returns.

We will have to see how long he is out and how long the rest of the rotation can hold up, as all of this is on paper.  [I can't believe I had barely written these words when I learned of Bumgarner's injury]

Two is Better Than One

Eno Sarris recently analyzed top fantasy hitters, and while that is not 1-to-1 with on the field baseball talent, I think it's a good enough proxy regarding hitting.  In fantasy baseball, McCutchen is valued roughly the same as Posey, and Longoria is valued roughly the same as Belt, as hitters, and both Posey and Belt are considered good hitters (Posey obviously better, elite, but Belt is pretty good too).

So another way to look at their addition, is now we got two Posey's where we had one before, and two Belt's, plus we got Crawford and Panik, both still considered good hitters, on top of that.  Plus, if healthy, Pence has proven that his hitting is still good as ever, as long as he has his timing (which he has if he hasn't been sitting around, not hitting).  And Jackson has been good against LHP in his career.  So the offense should be pretty good if healthy, at least average (per projections and lineup calculator) if not better if players who had recent poor production seasons (Pence, McCutchen, Longoria, Belt, Crawford, Panik) hit closer to their mean production than their poor season which drags down their projections.

Looks like Bumgarner Will Get the Three Starts in Nine Games

[Obviously this isn't happening, but perhaps Cueto if he is up to it; just replace Bumgarner with Cueto in this section]   While there has not been an announcement yet, I think that this news means that the Giants will go with starting Bumgarner in three of the first nine games, as has been publicly mentioned numerous times that they can and have been mulling over (Baggarly was the first I saw who noted the idea, and since then, the Giants have been reported to have not ruled that out yet).    Due to a lot of rest days early on, Bumgarner can start on his regular start day, every five days, in the Opening Day game, as well as home opener, and then fit in a second start against the Dodgers (always a good thing to have Madison face the Dodgers more often).

Given that now we have lost Samardzija indefinitely (though hopefully only a short time), it seems like the Giants have to get more starts out of Bumgarner in this way, to make up for that loss in overall talent in the rotation (based on projected talent), especially since it would not be forcing him to pitch with less than normal days of rest, it is his normal start day.   This gets him to start in our home opener as well as get to face the Dodgers twice in his first three starts.  [Baggarly noted that Cueto has not been named the opening day starter, but it seems a forgone conclusion now; now whether they do the 3 in 9 with him is another question]

Apparently the Dodgers have been manipulating their rotation in recent seasons to get Kershaw facing us more often (he has averaged roughly 5 starts per season, out of 19, which suggests that they have done something, as it should average out to 4 per season, as randomness would say 19/5=4 starts average).  So it would behoove the Giants to return the favor (though not sure how this works, but Bumgarner has been having 5 starts per season except for 2012, where he somehow had only one).  Though the Giants have been beating up on LA for a while:  since 2010, when we got Bumgarner, and skipping 2017, as the Giants were injured a lot, the Giants have been 71-59 against our rivals (Giants had only one losing season vs. them in those 7 seasons), so our team just seems to like beating up on them.

So throwing in an extra Bumgarner start should theoretically give us another win over them, and help us keep our edge, and put us that much closer to competing for the division title.   The Giants were 11-8 in 3 of the 4 seasons (2013-2016), and if we can shift one win to us, they would be 12-7.

Then Looks Like Fernandez Time

Anyway, continuing my train of thought, in addition, this means that the Giants will not need a fifth starter until at least 3 weeks into the season, which means that one of Stratton or Blach could be optioned to AAA in order for the Giants to keep the Julian Fernandez Experiment going into the regular season, where they can get more evidence to evaluate regarding keeping him versus returning him to the Rockies.

And I am all for doing anything to keep him.  As wild as he has been in spring training, he actually had a 2.8 BB/9 last season in A-ball, with 8.8 K/9 and 3.17 K/BB, all very good, while young for the league, roughly one year younger, which is always a sign of a good prospect, performing well while young for the league.  He's 22 YO this season, which is young for the majors, but he's one, maybe two years away, which is why the Rockies would want him and his 100+ MPH fastball back.

Given that the Giants did something similar with Jonathan Sanchez before, when he dominated in A-ball too, and he was roughly the same age, I'm hoping the Giants can do their magic with Fernandez too here, and get a useful reliever out of him.  However, they were able to put Dirty into AA and AAA before bringing him up to the majors in late May, and the Giants probably only got about a month to evaluate Fernandez at the major league level, before they need to make the hard decisions regarding what to do about the bullpen.

13 Pitchers = One Less OF

There has also been talk about possibly carrying 13 pitchers and one less OF, even before the Samardzija and Bumgarner injuries, meaning that the Giants would carry one less OF.  Kerry Crowley of the BANG reported that Jarrett Parker has not been taking batting practice, and wasn't even listed on the extras list today, and appear to the one who will lose that OF spot.  That also means that probably is the spot that Fernandez will get on the Giants 40-man roster list, though Holland will be needing a spot as well, as he looked like he was going to make the team even before all of this happened, and now looks likely to be slotted behind Cueto in the rotation turn, as the third starter.

I had been hoping that perhaps the Giants putting Fernandez on the 40-man would make it harder for the Rockies to take him back, and not work out a trade, but according to one media person I contacted via twitter, they would not be forced to take him back on their 40-man.  So if the Giants really like him, they will probably have to like him enough to keep him on the roster all season, which will be hard to do if they are competitive all season and he's not up to snuff, they already have a full bullpen with Melancon, Dyson, Watson, Strickland, Gearrin, plus Smith at some point, plus a long reliever, probably.

[With the Bumgarner injury, now have to wonder if they keep Parker and get rid of another player off the 40-man;  in addition, with Bumgarner out at least 4-6 weeks, it looks like he can be placed on 60-Day DL immediately to open up a 40-man spot for somebody (Fernandez?)  I will post on the 25-man roster once I have time to process all this...

The good news is that we didn't push the payroll beyond the CBT penalty threshold just for all this to happen.  I went from hoping Stratton duplicating his late 2017 season starts to needing Stratton to duplicate his late 2017 starts]


  1. Surgery went fine for Bumgarner and the Giants hope he will be back by early June, missing a third of the season, by my calculations.

    Samardzija is hopefully missing only 2-3 starts, so he could be back around the time we need our fifth starter.

    Sounds like the Giants want the last reliever spot to be a long relief guy. The idea right now is to carry 4 OF and 9 RP. If so, that means it is Duggar vs Blanco for the last OF spot. Either will need a 40-man spot.

    I count 7 RP: Melancon, Dyson, Watson, Strickland, Gearrin, Osich, Fernandez. So the Giants will need to decide the last two spots. Maybe Law or Okert, as both has MLB experience, but I'm partial to Snelten who was good this spring and great last season. Plus the spot won't be available that long, so it would be nice to see what he got. And a long reliever, the only two starters on the 40 are Beede and Pierce Johnson. I've heard goods things about Johnson, who we picked up on waivers from Cubs last season. We'll see.

  2. I would not give up on the season yet, we need to see how we survive until Samardzija returns, then see how well he does. We'll know much better as we get to May. Go Giants!

  3. Should have realized: rotation is Blach, Cueto, Holland, Stratton.

    With Opening Day so close, no way to adjust the rotation without pitching Cueto with one less day of rest, in fact, one less for everyone, to move him into the opening day slot, so the easiest was to hold back Blach to pitch Opening Day, and thus probably Giants Opening Day, and face the Dodgers twice.

    The good news, I guess, is that he's got a 2.33 ERA against them in 4 starts and 7 total appearances, with two great starts against them previously. Hopefully he can continue to do that.

    Obviously, things are not great, but I don't see them as dire yet, but more a thing to watch and see. Obviously Blach and Stratton will have to come through for us, as well as Holland and Cueto. We will see.



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