Tuesday, September 15, 2015

8th inning: 9-9

The Giants pulled off a win over the Reds in Game 144 to finish their 8th seasonal inning. Brandon Belt and Matt Duffy were the hitting stars and Belt flashed some impressive leather as well. I have to say I was also impressed by the work of SS Ehire Adrianza who made a number of Crawfordian grabs and throws. He looks like he's playing with more confidence. The bullpen got it done after Tim Hudson was yanked in the 5th. Here's the seasonal story so far:

1st inning: 7-11
2nd inning: 11-7
3rd inning: 12-6
4th inning: 8-10
5th inning: 9-9
6th inning: 12-6
7th inning: 8-10
8th inning: 9-9

The Giants have won four in a row and seven of their last ten. It's a nice little surge but it's not helping: they are still 7-1/2 back in the West race. Los Angeles has an iron grip on first place going 8-2 in their last ten and 13-4 in their nearly-completed 8th inning. The Dodgers are 32-21 since the Break which bests the Giants 30-25. They went 15-12 in August while the Giants managed only 13-16. September's record is 10-3 while the Giants are at 7-6. No matter how you slice it they've played better ball. And the three-game sweep (August 31-September 2) turned the tide. It was almost as if that series was the Zeroth Round of the Playoffs! At this point the Giants can't really afford to lose any more games. The odds of going 18-0 are pretty damn long, but it's pretty damn close to what they'll have to do. The only realistic scenario is to get within four games by Monday the 28th and then pull off a sweep in the penultimate series at home. LA's magic number is 12. I don't want to contemplate them clinching at AT&T in that stretch of games.

Looks like wunderkind Joe Panik is done for the season. Such a shame. In 100 games he raked to the tune of .312/.378/.455 which translates to a 130 OPS+, 137 wRC+, and a .363 wOBA which is second only to Ben Zobrist for second basemen with 400+ PAs. Add in his glove and he rates 4.1 fWAR (3.1 BB-Ref WAR). That's great work over a full season let alone only 60% of one. I hope this back issue can get resolved in the off-season. The Giants need him at the keystone for 2016 and beyond.

Speaking of 2016, another fellow who is important to the cause is pitching tonight--Chris Heston. He threw 173 innings in 28 starts in the PCL last year. This season in the bigs he's just shy of 160 IP in his 27 starts. With some improved health and fitness (and a better idea what a full major-league season entails) he will likely be counted on for 2+ WAR. What he has done this year is comparable to what the Padres got from James Shields! Get right the rest of the way and get ready for next year Hest-o, the team needs you.




Zo said...

I am surprised at this "inning." I would have guessed more like 6 - 12. That's kind of what it feels like even with the 4 W's.

Ron said...

If you look at the pattern to-date, it appears that the Giants will go 12-6 in the final 18 games of the Season. Most likely not good enough. Still, an 88-74 season is a good season. We have been a bit spoiled these last few years. We had a lot of injuries, which every Team always has - we had injuries in our WS Championship years, too. But, the biggest one, the one that we could never even begin to deal with until we got Byrd, was Pence. With Hunter Pence all year, we would have been right in it.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Pence, certainly, but Panik equally. And the starters. Not enough consistent performance there for a championship club.

Zo said...

A while back, Chris Heston was the guy who would be a stalwart in our rotation for next year and beyond. Now, you have to wonder. He has thrown 6 innings once since July, 6.1 on August 12 (he went 7 strong on July 27). In only one other game has he even gone 5, 5.2 on September 4. I want the guy to be good, but we need more than 5 innings from starters.

nomisnala said...

Some of the spark plug players missed too many games. And Pagan when healthy could
be a sparkplug, but her clearly played more than half his games injured. We did get
excellent contributions from Duffy, Tomlinson, and Blanco. Aoki was more than
adequate until he started with the injury bug. These team easily could be there if
we had half the injury time lossed. The other injury which really hurt was Cain. A healthy
Cain and we would be right there. Of interest, Romo's post all star stats are insanely good.
Prior to the all star break he looked very iffy at best. Since that time, he has been one of the best relievers in the game. The question becomes: How does that happen?

Ron said...

Must-read article:


M.C. O'Connor said...

I saw that Duffy piece--very nice. Here's a piece from Jonah Keri at Grantland about the 2016 Giants.

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

The Duffy article (which he wrote) is a wonderfully written account of his experience with the "Giants Way." It should be mandatory reading for every Giants prospect going forward, heck for every Giants fan! I was crying by the end, Duffy has a career in writing whenever he wants, this was a well written article.

Thanks for the link to Grantland, did not see that yet. I like their articles (for those who missed, this is great one on Bochy: http://grantland.com/the-triangle/bruce-bochy-best-manager-san-francisco-giants-baseball/ ), but the inability to comment really rankles me.

For example, in the "best infield" linked to in this article, the author chastise the Giants for not believing in Belt in 2011 and re-signing Huff, when the Giants, at the start of the season, pushed Huff to the OF in order to play Belt at 1B, ignoring the fact that it was his HBP, rehab, and stubbornness in not accepting the changes they asked for in his hitting mechanics, that caused him to be placed in the minors during parts of the season. Generalists like the author miss details like this that devoted fans do not and/or present the narrative that best fits their story, damn the facts.

I would add the crack about Leake's mediocre performance for us, he had four very good starts for us, then the blowup in Arizona (happens a lot there, hitters park).

Interesting factoid from the article, that I knew, but got me thinking: Beede's transformation with Giants. With him, there's much more history and evidence of his higher velocity talents. But with Blackburn, very little, and hence the wonder if he has the velocity or not. But what they did with Beede seems very similar to what Blackburn has done, and would explain why he might not throw as fast as some thought, that he has the ability, but the Giants have gotten him to focus on being a pitcher instead.

The 2016 Giants have a lot of what I thought was good about the 2015 Giants that I thought would propel them to the World Series again. Damn you Cory Black!!! The Giants won a lot of games when Pence was in the lineup, not as much with him out. Whereas I thought the whole "Giants win with Pagan" was hoo-hah because they won with him because he played when the whole team happen to be healthy when Pagan was in the lineup, I think Pence showed his value this season, how the team got such a boost from just adding him to the lineup.

Keri did a good analysis overall about what is good about the Giants for 2016. Crick I think could still be a starter, the Giants have not decided yet that he is a reliever full-time, I think the report is that they did that to work with him on specific mechanics and are undecided as to what he'll do next. I would have added Law to the list of relievers for sure, and thought about adding Johnson or Hall. Tomlinson should have gotten a mention as a potential super utility bench player.

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

I didn't care for Keri's tone about Cain, in particular. Seems like something that Giants fans who were clamoring to trade Cain because "he's a loser" would say. It is way too soon to say that the Giants will for sure pay him the buyout on his contract.

How about noting that his decline the past couple of years was related to bone chips that filled a jar after they were removed and that the Doctor gave him a full bill of health afterward? How about noting that he pitched pretty well initially (first five starts) after returning from the DL, but that his current DL reasons could be the reason for his poor results afterward? How about he's a guy who never needed velocity to pitch well, and perhaps needs to get fully healthy before you can judge what he can and can't do in the next 2+ seasons?

I still believe in Cain. I think that he can return to his prior goodness he showed before the decline that followed his Perfecto. At worse, I think that he can be a key cog in any rotation, even if he's not a co-ace anymore. What I don't know is his health, he needs that but didn't get it this season.

M.C. O'Connor said...

I think Cain will also make a comeback. I like the optimistic outlook even if I disagree on some of the details.

Duffy does indeed write well.

nomisnala said...

Cain is a year younger than Greinke. If you looked at their stats before this year, with Cain having one less year, and without the one dominant year Greinke had, their statistics were almost identical. This year Greinke accelerated his greatness with a phenomenal year, and Cain went in the other direction. But next year Cain will be the age that Greinke is this year, and watch out. Cain will come back with a vengeance. "I hope?" Of course the stats that were similar did not include the Wins and Loss columns.