Sunday, 17 April 2016

Another loss to the Dodgers that shouldn't have been

In a scenario seemingly plucked from previous frustrating Giants seasons, the Giants got a great outing from their starting pitcher and still managed to lose a very winnable game.

Even world series wins can't erase the memory of outings that birthed the "Cain'd" verb, created to summarize the 496 outings where Matt Cain pitched to a win, but had no team behind him.

Tonight was like watching the Giants through a time machine. Denard Span struck out on an 80mph slider with a swing that started once Dodgers catcher Grandal had caught it. Buster Posey carried an 0-18 road trip streak into the 9th inning. Matt Duffy's 0-4 capped off a disgusting 2-23 road trip of his own. Angel pagan had a hat trick. Bruce Bochy once again handicapped the team by leaving the starter in too long. There were, at most, 4 well struck balls off the Giants bats all night.

And yet, after all that, the final was just 3-1.

Because they're not going to have the teams offensive engine stalled every single night, and they are likely to get good pitching performances from the top 3 most days. They're going to be fine, but they have quite the mess to work through at the moment.

• What was Bochy doing leaving Samardzija in to bat in the 7th? There's nothing to gain from sending him out for one more inning. He essentially wasted their 3rd to last scoring opportunity.

• More upsetting than the Giants losing to the Dodgers is how bad the majority of their swings looked. That's a trend that has to end immediately, especially with two predictably average outings upcoming from Jake Peavy and Matt Cain.

• josh Osich is excellent. Inducing a huge double play to end the threat and keep them in it. He should have started the inning, Bruce.

Javier Lopez is not himself

Javier Lopez was automatic last year. Opponents had just a .145 batting average against him, he had a ridiculous ERA+ of 237, and allowed a run in only 10% of his appearances (77). If Bruce Bochy brought him in to face a tough lefty with a runner in scoring position and two outs, you knew the inning was over. There was good reason to have more confidence in him than anyone else, save for Madison Bumgarner.

Things haven't started out quite the same way for Lopez's 2016 campaign. He's already allowed over a quarter as many hits as he did all last year, in 36.2 fewer innings pitched, 71 fewer appearances. His struggles can mainly be traced back to issues with his command. He's walking batters and having trouble putting them away succinctly, but more importantly he's also leaving pitches right over the heart of the plate.

Seager's Homerun came off a mid-eighties pitch
right down the middle.
Lopez can typically dominate lefties and even handle righties because of his low, deceptive arm angle, and ability to put the ball exactly where he wants from said arm slot. All of it hinges on where he ends up throwing the ball, and more so because he has no where near the velocity to make up for any location mistakes. Lopez is going to need to turn the command around quickly, otherwise Bruce Bochy would be wise to mix up how he uses Javier and fellow lefty Josh Osich.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Leave Kelby alone

Just eleven games into this very young season, panicky fans (like myself, sometimes) like to make knee-jerk statements and create awful opinions of players based on the smallest of sample sizes.

In the first Bumgarner-Kershaw match up of the season, Tomlinson muffed a play that could have sent all the orange and black dawning peoples home happy. He didn't, they lost, that's baseball.

Last night, he had an all around rough game. A couple of physical errors and at least one of the mental variety. That of course wasn't going to sit well with the whose memories are short and appalling.

Opinions like those are laughable, save for the second one, which was one of the only constructive comments I could find on the entire Facebook page.

The terrifying reality for the pessimists is that Kelby Tomlinson was the 11th most valuable offensive player on the Giants last season. He was more valuable than Justin maxwell, Andrew susac and Ehire Adrianza in a similar number of plate appearances. He was only slightly less valuable than Nori Aoki despite less than half the plate appearances, and his wRC+ was 119, both above average and better than Aoki's.

Before people start piling on him for a couple mistakes, it's important to remember two things.
One, the Giants don't have a better option. Christian Arroyo would almost certainly be one, but he is not on the 40 man and the Giants don't need to start his service clock. Adrianza is out, Crawford is ailing and that means Tomlinson is going to play - which is not the end of the world.
Two, the Giants didn't lose this game because Tomlinson made a couple mistakes. Not solely, anyways. They lost this game because:
They had one run-scoring hit, the other two runs coming on wild pitches.

Clayton Kershaw pitched better than Madison Bumgarner.

The Giants had 6 baserunners in 7 innings, one of which reached on an error.

Zero extra-base hits, the first game this season where the Giants did not hit a home run.

The defense as a whole was not good.

To cry for an infielder to be benched/demoted when plenty of other things went wrong is indicative of someone who's a 'fan' of the top 5 nameable players on the Giants, and pretends to know what's going on when one of the other twenty is mentioned. Don't be that person. Today is a new day, and you can be sure Tomlinson has a good shot of being in the lineup again tonight.

Beat LA.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Matt Duffy is outperforming Pablo Sandoval

Duffman is the hero we all deserve, after Pablo Sandoval's graceful departure from San Francisco. Casey McGehee was already penciled in as the starting third baseman, but Duffy's huge spring warranted a spot on the roster - thank goodness.

To date, McGehee has been nothing short of really bad, while his successor at the hot corner seems to be making more than just the most of his opportunity. He's in even filling the shoes he nor McGehee were expected to fill. I'll get to the numbers in a second, and they're pretty great.

It's important to remember that the Giants anticipated taking a hit in their offensive output from 3b at the start of 2015. They had every reason to believe that even their intended starter wouldn't measure up to the success that Pablo had for years. They also hoped to be close to on par defensively. But the failure of McGehee has, in short, led to the Giants looking better and more consistent at third base than they have in years.

Since his inarguable best year in 2011 (.315/.357/.552), Sandoval settled into a much more average but consistent player.

Here are his batting averages, on-base percentages and slugging percentages from 2013, 2014, and thus far in 2015, respectively:

             '13    '14    '15
AVG: .278  .279  .270
OBP:  .341  .324  .322
SLG:  .417  .415  .410

In a game this difficult with such a long season, that's pretty damn consistent. And no one's going to knock those numbers, in fact the Giants desperately wanted a few more seasons of them. And yet, here's Matt Duffy.

AVG:  .290
OBP:  .340
SLG:  .435

That's just the surface level stuff, though. Watching him play, it's actually kind of fun watching a third baseman who doesn't forfeit his own at bats with awful swings as often as he squares one up. It's fun watching Duffy play and much more rarely have to worry if he's up with a runner at first base and less than two outs. It's even more fun watching him play the position, because he does it better than the large version of the panda, and the numbers support that statement.

It's incredible to think that two years ago, he was putting up similar numbers for the San Jose Giants, and now he's manning third base for the big club. I appreciate what Sandoval did for the Giants, it's hard not to - but I am pulling for a $509k a year 568th overall pick to end up being a preferable option to a formerly loved and now loathed $17.6m a year fast food connoisseur.