The official autopsy of the 2016 SF Giants will reveal several causes of death:
- There will be questions about the Peavy/Cain (remember those guys!) combo
- There will be questions about the deadline trades (I’m still all in favor, but there will be questions)
- There will be questions about fatigue and moral and chemistry and Buster Posey’s stamina
- There will be questions about the ways the defense disappeared at times
- There will be questions about the lack of power
- There will be questions about the injury proneness of Joe Panik, Hunter Pence, and others
- There will be questions about organizational depth (especially in light of the mid-season deals)
And there will be questions about the bullpen.
It’s impossible to blame (or credit, for that matter) a team’s failure or success to one phase of the game, and yet it is easy to write the epitaph of the 2016 Giants thusly:
- They stunk in the 9th inning
Here’s the Giants 2016 record when trailing heading into the 9th inning: 0-57 (or something close to that, I’ve lost track)
Here’s how many leads the Giants have blown when taking a lead into the 9th: 9 (the most in franchise history).
This is highly unusual as even bad teams have a few come-from-behind-in-the-9th wins each season, and (as we already pointed out) no SF Giants has blown as many 9th inning leads.
There’s your story. There’s your season.
All the other stuff (the back-end of the rotation, the lack of power, etc) is true, but there’s no way around the 9th inning part of the conversation.
Here’s the other issue with the 9th inning meltdowns: they usually lose the next game too. Here’s a recent sampling just from September:
- 9/4 in Chicago, Casilla blows 2-1 9th inning lead, Giants lose in extra inning, get shut out next day in Colorado.
- 9/7 Giants blow 5-3 lead in 9th in Colorado, have off day next (PTL).
- 9/13 Giants blow 4-1 9th inning lead against San Diego, lose the next day 3-1 (wasting a good Bumgarner start).
- 9/17 Giants blow 2-1 9th inning lead against Cardinals, lose next day 3-0.
That’s 4 blown leads/games/wins, followed by 3 loses (and a day off).
Now, it’s impossible to say the Giants win all those games if they simply close the deal in the 9th.
But, let’s say they still drop the Labor Day game (that was always going to be tough coming off 4 draining games against the Cubs, flying to Denver, and playing early on Monday).
If they get those 4 saves, and win 2 of the next day’s games, they have a 1 game lead in the Division right now.
Looking Ahead: 13 games left, 6 against the Dodgers, plus the Giants are close to squandering the Wild Card Opportunity. There is very little room left to mess around. The only good news coming out of this week: the Dodgers played a long, frustrating (for them) game Sunday and may be a bit tired heading into today’s series opening. Of course, Kershaw starts for them, so there’s that.
Just for Fun:
- If the Giants go 13-0, the Dodgers can finish no better than 7-6 for the Giants to take back the division
- If the Giants go 12-1, then 6-7 for LA
- 11-2, 5-8
- 10-3, 4-9
- 9-4, 3-10
- 8-5, 2-11
- 7-6, 1-12
- 6-7, 0-13
- 5-8 or worse and the Giants have no mathematical chance
Hitter of the Week: Posey and Pence get mad props for coming to play all week. Both guys brought their A games, and put the Giants in a position to win most of the games the team played, but, oh well.
As an aside: Gorkys Hernandez should get a look at a 25 man roster spot next year. Not saying he should play every day, but he could be a nice, right-handed version of Gregor Blanco.
Pitcher of the Week: one question no one should ask this offseason is if the Giants did the right thing in signing Johnny Cueto. He’s been better than Zack Grienke. He’s been better than David Price. He’s been totally worth it, and he was again this week in his brilliant start against the Cardinals.
Final Thought: I almost don’t care if the Giants go 0-7 this week (oh, who am I kidding, that will make very grumpy). If they do, though, may they simply be blown out. May none of the loses be the result of 9th inning buffoonery.