We are now 20% of the way into the 2016 campaign, and so it’s time for hot takes. Are you ready?
This 2016 version of the Giants is weird. Odd. Funny.
There you go, some scintillating analysis.
There’s an easy narrative around this team that says the 4th and 5th starters suck, a few guys are hurt, and that’s why they are only 1 game over .500. There’s truth there, but it also misses some of the nuance.
In many ways, 2016 is off to a great start. The guys the Giants sunk big money into this offseason (Cueto, Samardzija, Belt, Crawford) are not just performing well, but extremely well (maybe not Crawford, but he’s at least doing what is expected of him so far).
In particular, Cueto and Samardzija are looking like great deals given what other big contract pitchers are doing (see, Grienke and Price).
A variety of other things have gone well too: Angel Pagan was looking great until he pulled his hamstring, Hunter Pence is back and maybe even better than before, Santiago Casilla is as good as ever, and some of the new bullpen guys have been solid. Bumgarner and Posey are still good (and can be even better than what they’ve shown so far).
But it just feels like something is off. Something is obviously off with Peavy and Cain. For my take on all that read last week’s review. And yes, Romo is out, Panik missed some games, Pagan’s hurt, etc.
The odd feeling I can’t shake is in the details. The 2 out rallies the staff is giving up. The 0-2 pitches that turn into hits. The defensive miscues at inopportune times. And the base running has been abysmal: especially all of the outs being made at second base and beyond.
Previous versions of successful Giants teams may not have been splashy or dominant (like the 2016 Cubs, my goodness), but they didn’t beat themselves, they didn’t make dumb mistakes, and they helped make their breaks happen.
That’s been missing so far this year.
We’re not seeing clean baseball, and even the increased talent level of this team hasn’t completely overcome that.
Week In Review: 2 of 3 in Cincinnati, and then a split of 4 games at home against Colorado (Note: Colorado is becoming quite annoying); 17-16 overall, tied for first in NL West.
Hitter of the Week: Brandon Belt continues to rake, even earning a comparison on twitter to Joey Votto (which is high praise). Here’s a taste of his last 7 games
- 11 for 24 (.458 ave), 5 extra base hits, 7 walks against 3 strikeouts, and a Bondsian 1.372 OPS. Dang.
Pitcher of the Week: Huge tip of the cap to Jeff Samardzija for 2 stellar, bullpen saving starts (unfortunately only 1 win for the Shark). He struck out 18 in 15.2 innings of work, to the tune of a 1.72 ERA. He just looks nasty right now.
Something tells me, we’ll have the opportunity to honor Jeff again, so let’s give it up for Derek Law who has been a stabilizing bullpen presence. No runs in 3 appearances this week, spanning 4.2 innings.
Finally, we can’t let this week go by without mentioning Vin Mazzaro who had the worst outing of any Giant’s pitcher I can remember. Poor Vin came in to mop up Matt Cain’s mess and somehow made a bigger mess. Check this out:
- He actually picked up a win earlier in the week in Cincinnati, so technically he went 1-0 on the week
- In one inning of work he gave up 7 hits and a walk. 9 runners scored, 7 of those were earned, all of which equals out to an ERA of 63.00
Sorry Vin, we hardly knew ya.
Looking Ahead: The Giants have another 7 game week, with three more at home starting tonight in a series with Toronto. I’d highly recommend watching the Warriors tonight. The thought of the Blue Jays home run machine lineup facing off against Peavy gives me the willies. If you are up for that, good on ya.
After the Jays, it’s off to Arizona for 4 in the desert. The Giants need to seek some revenge for the sweep they suffered at their hands at home earlier this season.
Somehow in this odd , even year, season, this is a first place team. Let’s add to the lead!