Welp. I had a preview post outlined and ready to go for the 2018 Giants. It was about the improved lineup and defense, the potential for the bullpen to be decent, and it was especially focused on the massive year Madison Bumgarner was poised to have.
That was the formula in my head. A career best year from Mad Bum, Johnny Cueto back to his wiley ways, and then some league average performances from the rest of the rotation should have been enough to get the Giants to the Wild Card.
Then yesterday happened:
Bumgarner having surgery tomorrow to insert pins in fractured pinky knuckle. It will be 4-6 weeks then he has to have pins removed. This is not going to be a short DL stint. But he expects to pitch before the All-Stsr break.
— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) March 23, 2018
This, coupled with a Jeff Samardzija pectoral strain, has cast a dark shadow on the start of the season.
The good news is that there are still 162 games left to be played.
The bad news is they will lose 15-25 starts from 2 of their 3 best/most reliable pitchers.
So, what now? 5 Keys to Stay Competitive into June:
- Johnny Cueto, whom this site named the Most Important Giant for 2018, only becomes all that more important. He needs to pitch like a badass right out of the gate, and have a GREAT first half. We’re talking prime 2016 Cueto.
- Somebody else in the rotation needs to come out of nowhere and have a great 8-start run to begin the season. Derek Holland? Ty Blach? Chris Stratton? Don’t care who it is, but one of them needs a magic run to get the team off to a good start.
- The bullpen needs to go from serviceable to an absolute strength of the team. The Giants may be able to get through the lineup a couple of times with Holland and Blach and maybe the Tyler Beede’s of the world, but they are going to have several days where they need 10-15 outs from the bullpen. That’s asking a lot from a unit that has some question marks.
- Andrew McCutchen, Evan Longoria, and Buster Posey need to earn their paychecks. No slow starts here. No “I’m just getting used to my surroundings” from the new guys. They need to mash, and they need to mash early and often.
- Finally, someone, and I’m looking at you Brandon Belt, needs to have a career year at the plate. If the 2018 Giants are going to be competitive, then this needs to be the long-awaited Belt breakout.
One interesting side effect to all this: the Giants will likely go with a 13 man pitching staff, and cut a position player (probably an OF), which makes the roster predictions a little different. So a final proposal:
- Posey C
- Hundley C
- Belt 1B
- Panik 2B
- Crawford SS
- Longoria 3B
- Sandoval INF
- Tomlinson INF (probably makes it since he could play OF in a pinch)
- Pence LF
- Jackson CF
- McCutchen RF
- Blanco OF (makes it as the ultimate backup guy…without the injuries I’m 100% Duggar makes the team to open the season)
- Cueto SP
- Stratton SP
- Blach SP
- Holland SP
- Beede SP (my guess is the Giants will stay in-house and see if they can get some starts out of Beede until Samardzija returns…it looks like there is not much room left with the addition of Blanco for another SP, and to be honest there is not a lot available anyway…my apologies to the Bartolo Colon lovers out there)
- Melancon CL
- Dyson R
- Strickland R
- Watson L
- Gearin R
- Osich L
- Fernandez R
- Law R (Now, here is where it gets interesting. The Giants could keep Gorkys Hernandez as a 5th OF, or they could go any number of ways with a pitcher: A guy they know well like Law, a guy the like such as Reyes Montoya, or a guy who could give them innings, like Andrew Suarez. My guess is they go with the guy they know well, hence Derek Law. Also, remember that at some point in late April/Early May Will Smith will return.)
One final note. I’ve heard some rumblings about a big trade for Chris Archer or someone like him. I’d be shocked by this for a few reasons. First, that kind of trade would officially rid the farm system of anything it has left. Second, I don’t see Tampa making that trade to start the season.
Finally, the Giants do have an opportunity here to stay somewhat competitive while finding out what they have in a lot of guys early: Chris Stratton, Ty Blach, Tyler Beede, Josh Osich, and Julian Fernandez can all make the case that they are significant big leaguers. Gregor Blanco, Derek Holland, and Austin Jackson can prove they are indispensible pieces ready to help a good team.
To add salt to our wounds: a tweet I completely agree with…
I thought Bumgarner was going to win 20 games with the way he was throwing all spring. Not really sure where Giants turn. Suarez/Beede are top in-house options. Rotation is all of a sudden extremely inexperienced.
— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) March 23, 2018