Week [21] In Review (8/22-8/28) #sfgiants #weekinreview

As with all things 2016 Giants, this is a hard week to recap. The cold, hard facts: the Giants fell another game back of the Dodgers (they start this week 2 in the hole, versus 1 at last week’s writing).

And yet, this feels better. I can’t totally explain it, but it feels like the corner has been turned.

In the end, the Giants may look back on this week, and in particular, on the 1-0 loss to the Dodgers on Wednesday night, and wonder about that Brandon Crawford deep fly out in the 8th inning. If that ball goes 5 more feet, and the Giants win that game, how different does this year turn out?

Who can know, but we can say that the Giants got 4 quality starts, won 3 of them, and seem to be waking up with the bats. If nothing else they took some frustrations out on the hapless Braves and sometimes you need that to get it going.

Our two key players for the Dodgers series, Buster Posey and Matt Moore, did well. Buster didn’t hit any home runs, but hit over .400 for the week and is doing his best with all dings and bruises he’s dealing with.

And Matt Moore was magnificent. He was pitching under the worst case scenario we described last week (sweep prevention), and he nearly threw a damn no-hitter. Welcome to San Francisco, Matt.

I was at the game on Friday night: Samardzija pitched well, there was a home run (a lot more of those this week!), and the Braves looked every bit the last place team that they are, but the thing that stood out to me, and it was a repeated theme this week: the defense is back.

Brandon Crawford made several outstanding plays at the game I attended, and Panik, Belt, Span, and Nunez added their own gems throughout the week.

That is a very good sign.

Week in Review: 1 of 3 from the Dodgers in LA, 2 of 3 from the Braves in SF. 71-59, 2 games back in NL West.

Hitter of the Week: Posey hit .444 for the week, but Joe Panik welcome back to earth old friend. He hit .375 with 3 home runs, 8 rbi, and 4 walks. If Joe can turn this into an extended good run, the Giants are going to be in fine shape.

Pitcher of the Week: It’s nice to have some choices this week, but it’s a no-doubt tip of the cap to Matt Moore, who not only got a big win, but did it in dominant fashion. No one was asking for a no-hitter, but he nearly provided it.

There’s been a lot of rightful debate about leaving a post-tommy-john pitcher in for 130 pitches, and I do have my own concerns about that, but in Bochy’s defense, the team needed it. And Matt Moore needed it. And I always feel better about 130 pitches when a pitcher is locked in and repeating his mechanics, than 100 pitches on a day when it’s a struggle. To me those are different things.

Looking Ahead: Another weird week schedule-wise. It feels like I’ve written that several times this year. A day off today, at home, then two more in SF against Arizona. Strange to have a 2 game series with a divisional opponent. Then 4 in Chicago. Yikes. Especially, yikes, because they back that up with three in Colorado. The pitchers need to eat their Wheaties this week.

Go Giants, and Go Rockies (BEAT LA).

Week [20] In Review/Week [21] in Preview #sfgiants

I am getting tired of trying to explain the buffoonery we’ve been watching since the All-Start break ended, so today we are going to focus on the future, and some keys to a critical week in the season.

One thought of hope to act as our week in review: it is getting better. Slowly and still painfully, but better.

This week is huge, obviously, because we get the first of the 3 remaining series with the Dodgers. That’s 9 more games where the Giants hold their destiny in their own hands. I don’t trust their hands right now with their destiny, but these games are happening whether we want them to or not.

One of the interesting things about the last 6 years is that for the most part both the Giants and Dodgers have been very good. They’ve spent money, made big trades, have stars and talent, and yet it hasn’t felt like a rivalry.

This is not a Giants’ fan making a dig at the fact that the Dodgers haven’t won a world series while the Giants have won three. There’s plenty of time for that.

It’s more just a statement of fact, and I think it has to do with the fact that both teams have been successful, but not really at each other’s expense. In 2010 the Giants crushed the Padres hopes, and in 2012 and even in the 2014 the Giants and Dodgers avoided knocking each other out contention.

This is really the first time where the stakes are high and these two teams stand in each other’s way. There’s still a very good chance the division loser makes the wild card, but for some reason that feels like a significant defeat. Perhaps it’s because the Giants have frittered away such a large lead.

Whatever it is, 2016 is shaping up as either an opportunity to further mock our LA friends, or really, really hate the Dodgers. And that makes it kind of fun!

Series Preview: The “big story” is the Giants are skipping the 5th starter spot to lineup Bumgarner, Cueto, and Moore for this three game tilt. The other big story is that this allows the Giants to throw two left-handers against the Dodgers lefty heavy lineup.

Remember, also, this is part of the reason the Giants made the trade for Matt Moore. Matt Moore’s day of reckoning is Thursday. He can erase any questions about the trade by shutting the Dodgers down.

The Dodgers counter with Kenta Maeda, Rich Hill (finally making his debut), and TBD. Those first two are formidable opponents, but this sets up well in the Giants favor. Taking less than 2 of 3, even in LA, would be disappointing.

The Giants get to come home and beat on the Braves over the weekend, while the Dodgers have to do battle against the Cubs, so there’s good potential for this to be a big swing week.

Key Pitcher of the Week: I want to pick Santiago Casilla because the bullpen is going to be important and will need to be on against the Dodgers, but the key really is Matt Moore. He will be starting under one of the following conditions:

  • Pitching for a sweep (and a 2 game division lead)
  • Pitching for a series win (and to tie for first)
  • Pitching to avoid a sweep (and avoid falling, gasp, 4 games back)

Any one of those scenarios will be significant. He’s also pitching against a front office that knows him well, so he will need to make adjustments and bring his control of the strike zone with him to the office on Thursday.

Hitter of the Week: This may seem too obvious but Buster Posey needs to hit well against the Dodgers. A big Buster series takes the pressure off, and one big problem for the Giants right now is you can see Brandon Belt, Hunter Pence, and Joe Panik trying to do too much in every at bat. Those dudes need to chill, and Buster going off will do wonders for their chill factors.

That’s all I got this week. It’s time to win games. Go Giants.

Week [19] In Review (8/8-8/14) #sfgiants #weekinreview

I have no idea what to say today. Part of me wants to write about the positive signs, because there were many this past week: better starts, better offense, better bullpen (until Sunday).

Part of my wants to burn AT&T to the ground, because this team should not be allowed to play baseball anymore.

The week highlights the fundamental issue with this team: each facet of the team is pretty good except when it isn’t.

At times the rotation has been outstanding, the backbone of success. But the Giants have given a lot of starts to Matt Cain, Jake Peavey, and Alberto Suarez. Jeff Samardzija has been brilliant AND horrible. Madison Bumgarner is having a career year but didn’t win a start for almost a month.

At times the lineup has been outstanding, even carrying the load during different swings. But it’s also been banged up, some guys have been mired in inexplicable slumps for extended periods, and certain guys (hey there Denard Span) can look great one day and then go 0-14 the next 3.

The defense has been, maybe, the most consistent force for good all year, but there have been some glorious meltdowns, and Angel Pagan still plays in the field on a regular basis (which is not a good thing).

And then the bullpen: oh sweet bullpen. Just when Bochy was starting to follow my advice (see last week’s post), just when roles and expectations were clarifying, just when it seemed like the ‘pen was taking the place of “most confidence inspiring,” yesterday happened.

And so, I just don’t know.

This is a good baseball team, except when it isn’t.

Week In Review: 2 of 3 in Miami, and 1 of 3 from Baltimore. 66-51, still, somehow 1 game up in the NL West.

Hitter of the Week: No question this award goes to Brandon Crawford who accumulated a week’s worth of hits (7) in one incredible game. Crawford’s name has come up several times in “overall best player in baseball” conversations. No one is saying he is the best, but who ever imagined that he would even be in the conversation. Remarkable.

Pitcher of the Week: Madison Bumgarner had a great start the other night, and finally got credit for a win, but we’re going with Jeff Samardzija. Shark had been struggling with control and the home run ball, but to hear some of the guys who follow the team closely, there were predictions of a turn around. It appeared to start in his last turn where two things happened: better control (still walked 3, but seemed to leave less pitches out over the plate), and the return of the curve ball (too much hard stuff was making life too easy for opposing batters). Keep it up Jeff!

Looking Ahead: the long home stand continues with 3 against Pittsburg and 4 against the Mets. Keep putting the positives together!

Oh, any maybe it’s time for Derek Law to take over the 9th?

Week [18] In Review (8/1-8/7) #sfgiants #weekinreview

It’s hard to say what’s most frustrating about the Giants right now. Is it the mistakes in the field and on the bases? Is it all the runners left on base? Is it the bullpen implosions? Is it Jeff Samardzjia? Is it Denard Span? Is it wasting great Madison Bumgarner starts?

It is hard to be critical of Bruce Bochy after so many years of great decision-making and pushing the right buttons time and time again.

But, I have two beefs with Boch, and  they have to do with the starting lineup and with the bullpen. One disclaimer before I offer my humble suggestions: so much of writing a lineup or making bullpen decisions has to do with individual matchups. Given that fact, these suggestions are based on the “ideal,” game by game, and game tweaks are not considered here.

For the lineup…here’s what the Giants lineup should look like if everyone is producing at their normal capacity (based on what we saw earlier in the season):

  • Span CF
  • Panik 2B
  • Pence RF
  • Posey C
  • Belt 1B
  • Crawford SS
  • Nunez 3B
  • Pitcher
  • Pagan LF

Now, certain guys are not producing at their normal capacity (Belt was in a horrible slump coming out of the break, and Pence and Panik have been struggling since coming off the DL), and so Bochy has been modifying a lot. But he’s yet to do this:

  • Nunez 3B
  • Pagan LF
  • Posey C
  • Belt 1B
  • Pence RF
  • Crawford SS
  • Panik 2B
  • Pitcher
  • Span CF

One of the struggles with making out an ideal Giants lineup is that they are so left handed heavy, there’s almost no ideal way to slice it. Once everyone is “back”, here’s what I would do:

  • Nunez 3B
  • Panik 2B
  • Posey C
  • Belt 1B
  • Pence RF
  • Crawford SS
  • Pagan LF
  • Pitcher
  • Span CF

The keys to me are: Nunez should lead off and Span absolutely should not. We’re deep enough in to this season to feel good about this move. It’s time.

Second, Posey/Belt/Pence/Crawford creates a nice R/L balance, and pushes Posey higher in the lineup, where he should be.

On to the bullpen: this is harder, because matchups are even more important here, but on the whole this is how I would want to use the guys who are presently active:

  • Starters for 6
  • 7th: Strickland
  • 8th: Smith or Law (or both)
  • 9th: Casilla
  • Romo/Lopez as specialists to get 1-2 right or left-handed batters in the 6th and 7th innings.

The bullpen has been doing much better recently, and Bochy is heading more in this direction, but far too often he’s been using guys either earlier (Law) or later (Romo/Lopez) than I would like to see.

In Review: 1 of 3 at Philadephia, and 1 of 3 at Washington; 63-48, 1 game lead in NL West

Hitter of the Week: After the Philly series it seemed a no-doubter that Denard Span would take this, but he reverted back to his meek ways against his former teammates in Washington, and so I deem Brandon Belt hitter of the week. One of the issues with the Giants right now is that they do not hit enough home runs. They have been far too reliant on the magical “big hit,” a dependence that is eased by home runs. Belt can hit home runs and he can hit them in bunches when he gets hot. He hit two this week, so hopefully this is a sign of good things to come.

Pitcher of the Week: Matt Cain continues to battle. It’s not pretty, but he’s been very effective, and the more reps and confidence he can get in his new elbow and current stuff the better both for the finish to this season and to the future. I am encouraged.

But, the pitcher of the week goes to newcomer Matt Moore. Moore wasn’t perfect in his debut, he did walk 6, but it seems he was squeezed by the umpire, plus there was probably some adrenaline flowing in these new environs. Either way, a strong quality start, and he showed great stuff: 95 mph fastball, big-fall-off-the-table curve. So far, so great.

Looking Ahead: the Giants are still on the road, now in Miami, where they face more good pitching and another team fighting for the postseason. Then, a day off, and finally back home, where they need to continue dominating (a huge key to the season). Hopefully the can start building their lead back in NL West.

Whoa There Giants…(aka Week [17] In Review) #sfgiants #tradedeadline

What a roller coaster of emotions the past week, days, hours, even minutes have been.

Let’s try to recap, even as news is still unfolding:

  • Some thought the bottom of the Giants tailspin was a 1-8 post all-star break  start, culminating in a dud of an AL East road trip. No the bottom it turns out was coming home and immediately losing 4 of 5, including 2 to the lame-o Reds.
  • In the middle of that the Giants made a move. Finally. They bolstered the hapless lineup, acquiring jack of all-trade 2016 All-Star, Eduardo Nunez from the Twins (we’ll get to what the Giants gave up in a moment). A nice move. Not splashy, but helpful, and it’s already paid dividends (the Giants lineup just feels better with him in the lead off spot).
  • Then the Giants turned it around a bit, winning on Saturday and Sunday. They got middling efforts from their 4th and 5th starters (Peavy and Cain), and GREAT efforts from the bullpen. They scored just enough runs to win, and win they did, to regain a bit of life, hope, momentum, and most-importantly another game back on their lead over the Dodgers.
  • Now, to today: the infamous trade deadline. Word came in on the way home from Costco that the Giants acquired Will Smith (so many Will Smith jokes), for…well, again, we’ll get to that in a minute. Anyways, Smith helps the bullpen for sure, and will be around for a couple of years (also true of Nunez, a fact that might be important here in a few moments).
  • Currently word is coming in that the Giants have probably, hopefully, indeed acquired Matt Moore from the Rays for a couple more…WE’RE GOING TO GET THAT IN A MINUTE OK.

For now, let’s say this: the Giants improved everything. A decent hitter who can play multiple positions and who works off the bench or in the starting lineup, and who will be around for another year? Win.

A good, young bullpen arm who gets out left handers and misses bats at an elite level, and who will be under team control for another 3 years? Win.

A good, young starting pitcher who is left-handed (we see you Dodgers), and who is a VAST improvement over the current version of Matt Cain and Jake Peavy, and who will also be under team control for the next 3 years? Big Win.

…Except…

Oh, what price did the Giants just pay?

  • For Nunez: Adalberto Mejia, who seemed to project as a mid/back-end rotation piece (think more Samardzija than Cueto), but, most importantly, was the closest guy in the Giants system to helping at the big league level. Not the most painful price, but it means the Giants have some confidence in Cain and Suarez being able to hold down the 5th spot for the foreseeable future.
  • For Smith: now we’re getting pricey…the Giants gave up last years #1 pick, Phil Bickford, a strikeout maven and Andrew Susac (remember him!). Giving up a number one pick for a relief pitcher seems insane, but these days this is how it goes. What was most disappointing for me, hearing the news in the car, was the thought that Bickford could have brought a bigger catch. Could he have helped the Giants acquire Chris Sale? Andrew Miller? Or what about Matt Moore?
  • Which brings us to Matt Moore: the deal is not completely finalized, so I’m writing commentary that is still based on speculation. But it looks like Moore for 1B Chris Shaw (best power bat in the system, expendable given the extension of Brandon Belt), Lucious Fox (not a guy I was in love with, but after years of the Giants finishing second on international players, here was one we actually got!), and wait for it…………………………Matt Duffy. Gulp.

There are two ways to skin this cat:

  • You are super ticked. I get it. You love Matt Duffy (the Duffman), you love his fat cat, you love his goatee, and he seems to embody all the best qualities we’ve seen in the Giants over the past 6 seasons. He was the final piece of the golden era infield puzzle!
  • Phil Bickford, you don’t care too much about, but damn, how do you trade a top pick/prospect for a relief pitcher?
  • A power bat (Chris Shaw)! The Giants actually have one of those?! Come on.**
  • And then, Mejia, we’ve been hearing about him for a while now, how come he never got a shot? How could he be worse than Peavy/Cain?
  • Conclusion: this was too much…way too much.

Counter point:

  •  Matt Duffy came out of no where. Remember, we are not that far removed from a Pablo Sandoval extension, which was then the Casey McGehee era. Two years ago, Matt Duffy was Kelby Tomlinson. Turning him into Matt Moore is a golden move.
  • Plus, there’s the not-so-small issue of Duffy’s achilles. The Giants have been taking it slow with him because they feared a Kevin Frandsen redux moment. Blowing out the achilles can be a career ender. Before the Moore deal, Nunez was here, in part, as Duffy insurance.
  • All the other pieces traded were prospects, and prospects are prospects. Meaning, you don’t know. We all lamented the Zach Wheeler for Carlos Beltran deal, but Wheeler, who could still be quite good, has struggled with injuries, including Tommy John. He hasn’t done much since 2011 (?!). You don’t know how those guys will turn out…it’s all projections.
  • Also, the Giants did all this without moving the two pieces that I most covet and look forward to seeing on the big league club someday: Pitcher, Tyler Beede, and INF Christian Arroyo. Arroyo has always been the real answer to the golden infield question***, and Beede was the first round strikeout maven before Bickford was drafted. The cupboard is not bare, and to improve every facet of the team in the meanwhile is kind of amazing.

My official take: wow, that was expensive. But it was bold. The biggest development in the Giants front-office since Bobby Evans took over is the boldness. This team went hard after Zack Grienke. Then it got Cueto AND Samardzija. Now all these trades.

This is a boldness that is about cashing in on the prime years of Posey, Belt, Crawford, and Bumgarner. The Giants have arguably the best starting pitcher, catcher, shortstop, and first basemen in the NL (Arguably, calm down people). There is no need to wait for the “window” to open. It’s wide open.

Of course, the other side of this prime window could be ugly. We all remember 2006, 2007, 2008. Ugly. But this team is going to be competing for the World Series this year, and next year, and the year after that, and probably the year after that. Enjoy it. Embrace it. This kind of thing doesn’t happen often in the history of a franchise.

My only concern and criticism is that this does feel like a Bonds-era kind of boldness. The Giants have succeeded incredibly well by going in the opposite direction: trusting their own guys, and making smaller, but excellent, moves to bolster areas of need.

And then there’s this:

The Giants have also succeeded mightily with their fabled “chemistry.” Did they just ruin it?

My counter to my own criticism is that the Bonds era was an era of urgency, and so is this one. Now is the time. Chemistry is not an issue in a clubhouse ruled by Bochy and Posey and Pence. So, well done Bobby Evans.

**Note: Chris Shaw is not involved. The Giants still have thier power bat. The other prospect there is Michael Santos, who I know nothing about =)

***

Week [16] In Review (7/18-7/24) #sfgiants #weekinreview

Last post I covered the pessimistic and optimistic views of the Giants situation entering the second half. Well…

It’s been a horrible stretch for the Giants since the All-Star Break ended. They were swept by the Padres last weekend. The same Padres they had beaten in all nine previous contests this year. They followed that up with a 1-4 east coast swing against the Yankees and Red Sox.

There are many culprits right now: the starters haven’t been great, the offense has been terrible, and the bullpen and defense have had a few untimely meltdowns.

It seems as if the lack of depth, with all the injuries that have piled up, has finally caught up to them.

The covering grace of that lack of depth had been the middle of the order combo of Belt and Posey and Crawford, but that tandem has struggled mightily out of the second half gate (Belt especially).

The other grace has been the starting pitching, but even that has hit the skids.

To top it all off, it looks like the Cubs just got even more scary.

The Giants return home, get out of the heat, and have soft-landing with a 3 game series against terrible Cincinnati. But then it gets more serious with four games against the Nationals this weekend.

Hitter of the Weak:

All hail Mac Williamson who continues to make a case for himself both as a legitimate starter when Hunter Pence returns, and as a future fixture in the Giants’ outfield. His two home runs and 6 rbis accounted for the majority of the offensive output over the last 8 games.

Pitcher(s) of the Weak:

Here’s the crazy thing: despite all the angst about the bullpen, despite all the rumors the Giants are involved in, despite all the cries for heads, 6 of the top 7 performances this week came from the bullpen (Cueto was the only starter to sneak in there). Casilla had a huge outing in the lone win, Javier Lopez and Hunter Strickland are quietly back in good grooves, Derek Law has been a revelation (my new top candidate for closer duties), and Sergio Romo has been great since his return.

By far the biggest issue right now, in my opinion, is that the Giants are not getting out in front in games. They’ve been behind almost every game post-break and that’s just not how they are built to play.

Looking Ahead: We already previewed the schedule above. The Giants need to enjoy and take advantage of this home stand, because it’s right back out to the humid east coast to start August. The Giants will also be playing a lot of contending teams over the final two months, so this series against the Reds is must win/sweep scenario.

There is a lot of hand wringing about the Cubs acquiring Aroldis Chapman. While he certainly makes them even more formidable, in some ways I find this kind of exciting for the Giants. Every even year run they’ve had to take down the “impossible,” whether that’s been the 2010 Phillies, the 2012 Cardinals, or the 2014 Nationals/Royals. They’ve never been favored to win a series in any of those post-seasons, so  why not add another behemoth to that list?

First things first though, and that’s righting the suddenly off kilter ship.

First Half Recap #sfgiants #2016

If you had of predicted, at the start of the season, significant DL time for Hunter Pence, Matt Cain, Sergio Romo, Matt Duffy, Angel Pagan, Joe Panik, and various other contributors from the bench and bullpen all by the All-Star Break, I would have thought that a recipe for mediocrity at best, and disaster at worst (especially if all those injuries were combined with poor performance.)

But, no, your 2016 SF Giants at the All-Star Break=Best Record in Baseball.
57-33.
.633 winning percentage.
Not near the best run differentially (+73, 66 runs behind the Cubs),
but better than almost anyone else in baseball.

Bottom line: this team has been really good (#analysis).

Let’s review some of our pre-season keys, and see how the Giants have fared:

  1. Health: hahahahahah…one thing I will say about this…with the exception of Pence, the Giants have not really lost time for any of what might be called the “core contributors.” This is not to take anything away from the Duffys and Cains and Pagans and Paniks, but the Giants haven’t lost any time from Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Brandon Belt, or Brandon Crawford. Four of those guys are on the All-Star team and the other (Crawford) should be. Not only have they not missed any time, they’ve all been pretty stinkin’ good, if not downright great this year. So, the health of the core has been steady, and this is very, very important.
  2. Matt Cain: I admitted my personal bias in this when the season opened, but Matt Cain hasn’t worked out so far. To be fair, he has pitched fairly well when he’s been out there, and his production, combined with Albert Suarez, has produced more than respectable 5th starter results. He also is back to start the second half, so this story is still far from finished.
  3. Brandon Belt: now we start to get into some “hits.” Belt has been awesome all year, far and away his best year, primarily because he’s been so consistent. Belt has been streaky, and injured, throughout his career, but so far neither of those have been true in 2016, and we are seeing the best we’ve ever seen from the Baby Giraffe. It will be great to watch what he can do too, once Pence gets back and there’s a little more lineup protection.
  4. Winning At Home: The Giants have been just as good at home (29-17) as on the road (28-16), a welcome development. That home record includes an inexplicable 4 game sweep at the hands of the helpless Diamondbacks, so it should/could be even better the deeper we get into the season.
  5. Integrating the New Guys: this could not be going any better. The pitchers in particular (Cueto and Samardzija) have not only been better than expected, but it seems like they’ve been around forever. Denard Span hasn’t lit the world on fire, but his chemistry with the rest of the guys seems great too. Chemistry is hard to quantify, for sure, but on a team as tight as the Giants it is important, and from this side of things it seems the integration process has been seemless.

Reasons to be Pessimistic:

  • Some of the advances stats show that the Giants have been playing above their heads. Even without those stats, it does seem remarkable that the Giants are the “best team in baseball” considering all the injuries and the bullpen struggles. Pessimists fear the regression to the mean in the second half.
  • The bullpen has been a mess…and there are concerns if it can get much better given the internal options (or lack thereof).
  • Too many innings for the starters. Funny how last year the concern was over the taxing of the bullpen and the lack of starters getting deep into games. Now we are wringing our hands over the number of innings and pitch counts. This is actually the one concern I do share with the pessimistic crowd.

Reasons to be Optimistic:

  • While there may be some regression to the mean, the Giants will also be fortified by most of their injured players returning no later than August 1. Undoubtedly it will take some time for all of them to find their rhythm, but the best team will become a far deeper team in the second half of the season.
  • The bullpen will get better. Sergio Romo’s return over the weekend was huge in and of itself, but his performance on the field was outstanding, and seems to have already begun righting the ship. Furthermore, if the Giants make a trade it will be for bullpen help. Pushing the Gearrins and others into lower leverage situations will go a long ways towards better overall pen work in the second half.
  • Matt Cain: I know, I know, get off the Matt Cain kick, Steve. Well, I just can’t. I think Cain’s strong second half will take some of the pressure off of Bum/Cueto/Shark, and allow Bochy to pace those guys a little bit more. Also, Cain in the rotation, means Suarez in the bullpen, which means a true long-man for the first time all season. Suarez could make a few spot starts if someone needs a breather, or he can provide some length to the bullpen, which has been sorely lacking. Think Yusmeiro Petit type work.

One Final Thought:

  • My first half MVP is Brandon Crawford. His offensive numbers are not quite as eye-popping as last year, but he’s gotten even better again, which is hard to believe. The defense continues to be outstanding, and one horrible game in Oakland aside, the defense is much a reason for the Giants’ success as anything else this year. He’s the quarterback out there, and it’s beautiful to watch. Meanwhile his clutch hitting has been fantastic, all those RBIs filling the gaps left by Pence and others.