After 79 games (nearly the half-way mark of the season) the Giants have sent out 9 different men to start games. Here is a list:
- Chris Stratton, 16 starts
- Derek Holland, 15 starts
- Ty Blach, 12 starts
- Andrew Suarez, 12 starts
- Jeff Samardzija, 8 starts
- Johnny Cueto, 5 starts
- Derek Rodriguez, 5 starts
- Madison Bumgarner, 4 starts
- Tyler Beede, 2 starts
If this is the only information I provided you on March 15, a couple of weeks before the season started, there are several conclusions you could have reasonably drawn, such as:
- Oh, crap, this season must be terrible.
- WHAT HAPPENED TO MY SWEET, SWEET MADISON BUMGARNER!
- Who is Derek Rodriguez?
- Johnny Cueto needed Tommy John didn’t he.
- 12 starts for Andrew Suarez, really?
- We must be about 40 games behind the Dodgers.
And yet, the reality is:
- Depends on how you define terrible (but mostly not).
- He’s fine. Just a broken pinky, which really sucked, but he’s fine.
- He’s Pudge Rodriguez’s son, NBD. And yeah, I had no idea he was in the Giants’ system either, but he’s really cool!
- Nope, not yet anyway. It’s complicated.
- Yeah, really! And he’s been pretty ok!
- Nope. Only 2.5. And they are not even in first place (Arizona is!).
A couple of other thoughts from this list. (A) Has Jeff Samardzija really started 8 games? It definitely doesn’t feel like it. I can remember, maybe, 2 of his starts. (B) Derek Holland has been a godsend (did not think I would ever type those words). (C) I’m not sure that the ceilings are super high for Suarez/Stratton/Rodriguez, but what a breath of fresh air to have so many guys from the farm system contributing. Remember when that was a fairly normal occurrence? (D) It would be really cool if one of those guys could have a Brandon Crawford type career where they just smash through the “low ceiling” label and become a stud. I’d put my money on Rodriguez being that guy. (E) If and when Cueto and Samardzija return, I’d like to see Rodriguez go the bullpen and replace Cory Gearrin, and send Andrew Suarez down so he can keep pitching every 5th day as a starter.
The Giants continue to be beasts at home, improving to 24-13. I’ve been writing for a couple of years now about how I’d love to see AT&T become more of a home field advantage. They’ve been a pretty even home/road team for most of the “dynasty” run but it hasn’t really mattered when they’ve been good because great pitching travels so well.
It’s interesting that it’s this team that has taken advantage of the home cooking so much. It’s got to be the combination of veteran bats and young arms.
If the Giants are going to stay in this race over the final 83 games, they need to continue the solid home play, and to finally start to win some games on the road.
That formula should help bring the +/- back into line as well (they are still -24 for the season).
Final thought this week: let Mark Melancon close. With Hunter Strickland on the shelf for a while, the Giants best bet is to let Bochy use Will Smith/Tony Watson/Sam Dyson/Reyes Moronta (and maybe Derek Rodriguez) as high leverage/match up guys from the starter on. Let Melancon pitch the 9th. He’s got the experience, you’re paying him A LOT to be a closer, and I guess what I am really saying is that I just don’t trust Sam Dyson enough. If I’m going down, I’m going down with Mark.
Important, and interesting, week ahead. A nice, within-home-stand, day off today, and then 3 against Colorado at AT&T. Here’s a chance to put some distance between themselves and the 4th place Rockies.
Then, off to Arizona. The Giants can start boosting their road record AND gain direct ground against the first place Diamondbacks.
Tentative Colorado pitching matchups:
- Bettis vs. Holland
- Freeland vs. Bumgarner
- Gray vs. Stratton
Those are actually even matchups. Of course, if Bumgarner pitches like he did in his last start, advantage Giants. I like the G-men to take 2 out of 3.
Tentative Arizona pitching matchups:
- Suarez vs. Bucholtz
- Rodriguez vs. Miller
- Bumgarner vs. Godley
Very interesting. This is not how these teams would line this up if it were a September series and they were both still fighting for the division. My initial reaction here is that this significantly favors the Giants since they miss both Zach Grienke and Patrick Corbin (who has dominated them recently). There’s also the chance that the Giants bring back Jeff Samardzija this week, but I would hope they wait until they get to Colorado (where Samardzija has done weirdly well as a Giant).
Anything less than 4-2 this week would be a disappointment. Go Giants!