Confession #1: I gave up on this team.
All throughout the month of September I was in favor of a mercy killing.
Just end it.
Put us out of our misery.
But they hung in there.
They were never “out of the playoffs.”
They kept it interesting, and then in the last week of the season they played some of their best ball of the year.
The naysayer would point out the Rockies and Dodgers had nothing to play for, but I would argue that the Giants have done extremely poorly against bad teams/out of the race teams all second half.
They should not have been swept twice by the Padres.
They should not have struggled against the Reds and Braves and Phillies and Rockies.
They were so good, and then they were so bad,
and it made me want to quit and go home.
And yet, here we are, another even year post-season appearance.
Confession #2: Even thought I quit and I just wanted it to end, I also desperately want this team to play the Cubs. “Just get into a series” is the thought I’ve been having for weeks now. Just get there and let’s see what happens.
Why? Why did I want this so badly?
There’s normal reasons:
- Even year magic #duh
- Posey and Bochy
- It’s fun
But here’s the real reason:
- The Giants have the best starting rotation of any team in the 2016 postseason
Their overall numbers may not bear this out, and I haven’t had the time to dive deeply into analysis, but just look at the teams, and look at the names, and is there any team that has 4 guys like the Giants have?
And here’s the thing: I don’t know that the Giants have had a 4 man group this good.
With all the hand wringing about the bullpen and the lineup (for good reason), we’ve lost sight of this rotation and that the great debate for Giants is who would you take:
- Peak Lincecum, Peak Cain, Rookie Bumgarner, Jonathan Sanchez…or…
- Peak Bumgarner, Cueto, Samardzija, and Moore
Right now, I’d take the 2010 4 because they got it done, but it’s close.
- Let’s not forget that 2010 Lincecum was the swing season, it was his last great season but some signs were showing (notably his All-Star Game start) that the shine was starting to fade. 2016 Bumgarner has already established himself as one of the best post-season performers of all time. Bum struggled a bit down the stretch this year, but if you were constructing a roster, who would you take? Edge: Bumgarner/2016.
- 2010 Matt Cain could have been a lot of teams #1 and all he did in the 2010 postseason was give up 0 runs. 2016 Johnny Cueto also comes in with a track record, fresh off a World Championship of his own, and inspires as much confidence as anyone in the orange and black right now. Plus the Giants score runs when he pitches =). Edge: Cain/2010.
- 2010 Jonathan Sanchez made the bold prediction that the Giants would overtake and defeat the Padres for the division title and his performance backed it up. Sanchez is actually a great comp with 2016 Matt Moore. In terms of pure stuff they may have the best, but the inconsistency and command issues are also eerily similar. Sanchez had a great start in the “Brooks Conrad” game, but then struggled the rest of the post-season and nearly had a series damaging breakdown against the Phillies. 2016 Matt Moore also comes in with postseason experience, and is older and more emotionally centered than Sanchez. Edge: Moore/2016.
- This final comp is where it gets really hard for me. It is hard to remember/rightly evaluate 2010 Bumgarner. He was so young and everything he did felt like gravy. We had no idea what would come, but now that we do know it’s hard to go back in time and not see it. 2016 Jeff Samardzija is much older, more experienced, has had an up, down, and up again season. However, this final up, his last 10 starts have been so good, it’s what really caused Confession 2 to grow: If Samardzija is really good, what could this team accomplish? Samardzija’s success actually gives me visions of the 2005 White Sox, a team that rode it’s starting pitching and one relief pitcher to a World Series. These starters are better than those starters. Edge: Toss.
Who would you take?
The real answer is: I would take these 4 guys over any of the other 9 team’s 4 guys.
Please, please, please beat the Mets so we have a chance to see it.
One final Confession: I was fully convinced that all Sergio Romo could do anymore was strike out an isolated right-handed hitter. I never thought he could take back the 9th inning. It’s hard to say if he really has, but I think he’s done well enough to win Bochy’s favor, and today’s 9th inning was as much about seeing him go back to back days as it was about anything.
If they’re going ride Serge, I don’t know that there’s a 2016 story line I like better than the redemption of Romo.
Are you ready for torture?