Monday, April 30, 2018

Your 2018 Giants: Sweeping the Dodgers, Sort Of

The Giants swept the weekend series with the Dodgers, as technically their one loss was the game moved from the rained out game earlier in the month, but according to official rules (per Schulman), the loss counts as part of this series, so there you go, sort of.  Still, winning a four game series is good, doing it against the Dodgers is great.  I thought I would cover some subjects (plus celebrating winning a series against the Dodgers).

As always, thank you to Baseball-Reference.com for their data, I would not be able to do any of my work without their wonderful database.

ogc thoughts

The amazing thing about winning the series over the weekend (it helped that Kershaw did not start a game; as I discussed in another post, the Dodgers actually has been owned by the Giants during Kershaw's career, 68-45 when someone other than Kershaw started, not including 2018), is that the Giants got a gut punch early and often this weekend.
  • Mac Williamson missed Friday's game and then was placed on the 7-day concussion DL on Saturday, due to his tumble off the bullpen mound and hitting his neck hard against the wall, mid-week.  The only good news about that was that Slater got called up, and went 2 for 7 with 2 walks for a .286/.444/.286/.730 batting line (though it was relatively quiet as he didn't score any runs or drive in any runs).   I'm not sure what the Giants are going to do with the outfield, as Williamson and Slater deserve to be up here, and Duggar is becoming hot enough to get promoted in early May, but Pence, AJax and McCutchen all have big and/or multi-year contracts, and Hernandez and Blanco are proven bench outfielders, it will be interesting to see how the Giants handle this.  But Mac needs to play right now, unless he's super cold again.  
  • Joe Panik was placed on the DL, with damaged ligaments that happened mid-week, with surgery expected (he's getting second opinion) and he's expected to be out 6-8 weeks (though Trout was able to come back in 4; but he's superman! :^).   Alen Hanson was rewarded for a great start, and was called up to replace Panik.  He only went 1 for 6, but what a one:  a three-run homer.   The homer helped his batting line, .167/.167/.667/.833 be pretty good.  He was a highly rated prospect before for the Pirates - ranked 54th to 76th by BA, BP, MLB Pipeline in 2013 and 2014 - but did not hit for much so far in the majors.   The Giants under Barr has loved to kick the tires are former highly ranked prospects who are looking for another opportunity.  He's only 25 YO still and hit .403/.479/.661/1.140 in AAA when he got promoted, so maybe the Giants figured out what he needed to do to make the jump to the majors.  We'll see.
  • Both Holland and Stratton had short starts, Friday and first game Saturday, got beat up pretty bad, leaving the bullpen in a ragged shape.  Though Stratton could be excused some because he was probably a bit sleep deprived after welcoming in his baby mid-week.  But couldn't the Giants have held back Suarez a start so that he could have took Stratton's start, and push Stratton back to Tuesday, which is when Suarez is scheduled to take a start because of the doubleheader on Saturday?  Cueto (ERA under 1.00 STILL) and Blach (career ERA vs. Dodgers is under 2.00, but his career against others, ERA is over 4) helped the bullpen greatly by pitching deeper into the game.
Holland Daze

Here are Holland's basic stats for the first five starts of 2017 and 2018, can any one tell me the huge difference, other than ERA:
  • 2017:  29.0 IP, 22 hits, 11 BB, 23 SO, 3 HR, 2.17 ERA, .232 BABIP, 61% strikes, 20% looking, 8% swinging, 0.57 GB, 27% LD
  • 2018:  25.0 IP, 20 hits, 11 BB, 25 SO, 4 HR, 5.76 ERA, .242 BABIP, 64% strikes, 20% looking, 7% swinging, 0.56 GB, 23% LD
Of course, 4 less IP, make the percentages higher, but the rate stats at the end are remarkably the same.  And FIP does show the similarity, as 2017 it was 4.24 FIP, in 2018 it was 4.59 FIP.   There is probably something if one looks at the advanced stats at Statcast via their Baseball Savant website, but based on the above, he looks pretty much the same as last season.

In any case, the average ERA in the NL this season is 4.30, so we are getting average pitching performance out of Holland, which is pretty good out of the #5 starter position.  Too bad he's been hurt by bad bounces of the ball (which, to be fair, makes up for the balls bouncing well for him in 2017; of course, that wasn't for the Giants...), as we could use some good bounces, as he's been 1-4 so far for us, though he did pitch well enough for us in his fourth start, Game Score 51, but was unlucky with the homers, giving up 3 of them.  Otherwise his oldPQS score there would have been a 4, which is a DOM start.

Sandoval's Second Career:  Relief Pitcher?

Pablo Sandoval came in as a reliever in the Giants 15-6 drubbing in the opening game of the double-header and provided some good relief, both pitching and feelings.  He had a 1-2-3 innings, getting three grounders.   Here is a video provided by The Athletic of the second out.  He also reached 88 MPH while showing good form as a pitcher.  His motion reminded me of Cueto and Tiant, and one beat writer saw a little Lincecum in his form.    Someone noted that Sandoval had more separation between his fastball and curve than Cueto did.

He pitched as a right-hander, which is amazing because he's a natural left-hander.  He learned to throw righty because he wanted to play SS like his idol, Omar Vizquel, when he was very young.  According to Andy Baggarly's great reportage at The Athletic, he did't throw as a lefty to the first two left-handed hitters because it was his left shoulder that had the surgery and he didn't want to risk it by throwing it as a lefty.

Bochy was asked about what he thought of Sandoval's form, and he thought Sandoval looked good.  As noted, his curve ball was pretty nasty, and he reached 88 MPH without practicing as a pitcher.  We all forget, but in spite of his portly body type, he's been considered a good athlete since he was first profiled as a prospect, and I was sold on his athleticism when he made two excellent slides to avoid tags at home plate in his first year as a major leaguer (he was acrobatic, to be sure), so if he can learn to pitch in relief, while providing a power bat off the bench, he could be much more valuable as a bench player.

Dyson and Smith Returning

Sam Dyson has worked his way back into a setup role, and helped to save tthe Giants over the weekend, throwing 96 MPH.  He was working all spring to find his velocity again, back when he was the dominating closer in 2016, as he discovered that he was pitching less with his legs in 2017 than he was when he was the shutdown reliever in 2015-16. So he was working on changing his mechanics all spring and making it muscle memory, and, it appears, still into the early part of the season, as his velocity was in the lower 90's. However, him throwing 96 MPH only got him back to his 2017 velocity range, he is still not close to his 2016 MPH form.

However, as I noted in another post, Dyson was pretty good in 2017 for the Giants, mostly keeping the opposition from scoring (he did not get a lot of inherited runners; but he was bad with them, so that's good), so just getting back to 2017 form is good for Dyson.  And getting back to his prior form, even better, obviously.

With a good situation with Dyson, Watson, Strickland at the end of games, our bullpen will be even that much better once Will Smith returns (expected May 2nd, after Suarez starts and get sent back down again).  I can see Bochy using still mixing in Dyson and Smith into the 8th, along with Watson, varying among them who gets in, plus quicker hooks (as I was hoping) for Dyson so that he don't give up crooked numbers anymore, that's the main reason he has a high ERA in spite of his ability to, for the most part, keep the opposition from scoring. 

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