Let’s get right to it.
- The Giants go 5-2 this week, they have now won 3 series in a row (I think I wrote something about this importance of this), and sit at .500 after, essentially, one month of baseball.
- The Giants have already hit 30 home runs, just 4 behind league leading Colorado, a welcomed development.
- Several surprising pitchers have shown signs of being significant contributors (Stratton, Blach, Moronta, Johnson, and Hunter Strickland)
- Johnny Cueto has been great. Tony Watson has been great.
- Brandon Belt is great (happy face emoji)
- Evan Longoria is settling in quite nicely
- Mac Williamson might be legit
- And, we got treated to the magnificent sight of Pablo Sandoval on the mound!
- Overall, the Giants offense is still in the bottom third in the league in most categories. We are still waiting for a few guys to show up.
- The Giants did win 5 games this week, but both times they lost they gave up 15 runs! Those games were weird for a variety of reasons, but the blowouts really mess with the run differential numbers. The Giants are 14-14 but they sit at a -19 run differential. We are enough games in at this point for that to mean something (but not everything). The Rockies, who sit half a game ahead of them in the NL West standings are -24, and the A’s who also happen to be 14-14 are +3, so obviously it doesn’t mean that much. However, it would be much easier to be confident about the future if that number were positive.
- The Giants also hit their first big rash of injuries this week. Hunter Pence went down with a sprained thumb, but that was good news as it allowed Mac Williamson to join the show. But then Mac hit his head and is in the concussion protocol. He should be back soon. Joe Panik, however, will not be back soon. He has a ligament tear in his hand, which means we may not see Joe again until July (sad face emoji).
- All of this means, the Giants have had a parade of guys coming over from Sacramento. Things should settle down in a few days, and there is a looming decision about Hunter Pence and Mac Williamson, but chaos reigns for the time being.
- Will Smith returns to getting jiggy with it, and so the Giants staff is at about as full strength as it will be until Bumgarner (and Melancon?) are back. Which leads to:
Confidence Power Rankings After One Month. Let’s start with the Starters:
- Johnny Cueto (no brainer here, Cueto’s been brilliant)
- Chris Stratton (we’ll give him a Mulligan for Saturday. I’m sympathetic to what we’ll call “new dad syndrome”)
- Ty Blach (he’s not going to dominate or go deep into games, but he competes and he beats the Dodgers all the time)
- Jeff Samardzija (the home run problems are still there, but something about him pitching every fifth day is mildly comforting)
- Derek Holland (has shown flashes, but he is quickly moving into long man territory as he can’t even get through a line up twice, let alone three times)
- Tony Watson (dude’s magical)
- Hunter Strickland (has had his moments but overall he’s been extremely effective)
- Reyes Moronta (had a bad outing on Sunday, but has been refreshing solid all season)
- Sam Dyson (seemed destined to get cut, but has turned it around. The sinker is sinking and he is getting big double plays)
- Pierce Johnson (very unremarkable and yet surprisingly effective. He’s the Ty Blach of the bullpen)
- Will Smith (not even active yet, but he beats out the rest of the list)
- Cody Gearren (feels like he should be so much better, but I have zero confidence in him in almost any situation right now)
- Other (Derek Law makes me sad. Roberto Gomez in intriguing. DJ Snelton is fun to watch. This is a revolving door, so not much to say, since these guys will all be gone by Wednesday).
- Brandon Belt (that’s right haters)
- Evan Longoria (he’s hot right now, sorry Buster)
- Buster Posey (hard to imagine him not being in the top 2 at any point this season, but the guys above him are hot)
- Andrew McCutchen (this is where it gets interesting…McCutchen probably doesn’t deserve to be in the top 5, but some of the other guys are not producing or are hurt, so I’d still rather watch Cutch bat than just about anyone else on the team right now)
- Alen Hanson/Austin Slater (again, this has nothing to do with how good they are, it’s just given the rest of the team they are the most interesting at bats to watch).
Looking Ahead. I’ve written quite a bit about the difficulty of the early schedule. Things do get a easier this month, however, the “easy teams” are also on the east coast, which makes them slightly less easy. May will also involve the Astros and the Cubs, and only 9 home games overall (18 road games), and a stretch of 17 games in 17 days.
So, the goal for May is to stay at .500 and hope that Arizona falls back, and then Bumgarner returns in June and the team gets rolling. The Giants will still need to get 5-8 starts out of Derek Holland and whoever else (and that assumes no gets hurt).
In the immediate future, root for another series win. The Padres have been annoying, so a minimum of 2 out of 3 would be a great way to start. They get a day off then head to Atlanta for three this weekend. Don’t sleep on the Braves, lots of talent there! I’m hoping for a 3-3 week and continued consistency throughout the roster.