Week [5] In Review (5/2-5/8) #sfgiants #weekinreview

We are now 20% of the way into the 2016 campaign, and so it’s time for hot takes. Are you ready?

This 2016 version of the Giants is weird. Odd. Funny.

There you go, some scintillating analysis.

There’s an easy narrative around this team that says the 4th and 5th starters suck, a few guys are hurt, and that’s why they are only 1 game over .500. There’s truth there, but it also misses some of the nuance.

In many ways, 2016 is off to a great start. The guys the Giants sunk big money into this offseason (Cueto, Samardzija, Belt, Crawford) are not just performing well, but extremely well (maybe not Crawford, but he’s at least doing what is expected of him so far).

In particular, Cueto and Samardzija are looking like great deals given what other big contract pitchers are doing (see, Grienke and Price).

A variety of other things have gone well too: Angel Pagan was looking great until he pulled his hamstring, Hunter Pence is back and maybe even better than before, Santiago Casilla is as good as ever, and some of the new bullpen guys have been solid. Bumgarner and Posey are still good (and can be even better than what they’ve shown so far).

But it just feels like something is off. Something is obviously off with Peavy and Cain. For my take on all that read last week’s review. And yes, Romo is out, Panik missed some games, Pagan’s hurt, etc.

The odd feeling I can’t shake is in the details. The 2 out rallies the staff is giving up. The 0-2 pitches that turn into hits. The defensive miscues at inopportune times. And the base running has been abysmal: especially all of the outs being made at second base and beyond.

Previous versions of successful Giants teams may not have been splashy or dominant (like the 2016 Cubs, my goodness), but they didn’t beat themselves, they didn’t make dumb mistakes, and they helped make their breaks happen.

That’s been missing so far this year.

We’re not seeing clean baseball, and even the increased talent level of this team hasn’t completely overcome that.

Week In Review: 2 of 3 in Cincinnati, and then a split of 4 games at home against Colorado (Note: Colorado is becoming quite annoying); 17-16 overall, tied for first in NL West.

Hitter of the Week: Brandon Belt continues to rake, even earning a comparison on twitter to Joey Votto (which is high praise). Here’s a taste of his last 7 games

  • 11 for 24 (.458 ave), 5 extra base hits, 7 walks against 3 strikeouts, and a Bondsian 1.372 OPS. Dang.

Pitcher of the Week: Huge tip of the cap to Jeff Samardzija for 2 stellar, bullpen saving starts (unfortunately only 1 win for the Shark). He struck out 18 in 15.2 innings of work, to the tune of a 1.72 ERA. He just looks nasty right now.

Something tells me, we’ll have the opportunity to honor Jeff again, so let’s give it up for Derek Law who has been a stabilizing bullpen presence. No runs in 3 appearances this week, spanning 4.2 innings.

Finally, we can’t let this week go by without mentioning Vin Mazzaro who had the worst outing of any Giant’s pitcher I can remember. Poor Vin came in to mop up Matt Cain’s mess and somehow made a bigger mess. Check this out:

  • He actually picked up a win earlier in the week in Cincinnati, so technically he went 1-0 on the week
  • In one inning of work he gave up 7 hits and a walk. 9 runners scored, 7 of those were earned, all of which equals out to an ERA of 63.00

Sorry Vin, we hardly knew ya.

Looking Ahead: The Giants have another 7 game week, with three more at home starting tonight in a series with Toronto. I’d highly recommend watching the Warriors tonight. The thought of the Blue Jays home run machine lineup facing off against Peavy gives me the willies. If you are up for that, good on ya.

After the Jays, it’s off to Arizona for 4 in the desert. The Giants need to seek some revenge for the sweep they suffered at their hands at home earlier this season.

Somehow in this odd , even year, season, this is a first place team. Let’s add to the lead!

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Week [3] In Review (4/18-4/24) #sfgiants #weekinreview

The Giants struggles at home, and in recent times against Arizona, continue to baffle me. Outside of the D-backs sweep, the Giants are 5-2 at home, and those two loses are could-have/should-have wins. But, overall they are under .500 at AT&T. Makes no sense!

Yes, it is early, and, yes, taking 2 of 3, or even sweeping the Padres to start this week would shiny up that record quick, but I am going to keep harping on this until it isn’t an issue any more.

The Giants haven’t truly struggled at home during their run of success, and this isn’t the NBA where you can win 90% of your games at home, if you are a good team.

But, I can’t help shake the sense that they should win more often in San Francisco. And, of all the teams the Giants have had in the last 6 years, this one seems ideally created to do well at home (i.e. 50+ wins). Perhaps in a month we’ll look back at the Diamondback series and laugh, but right now, the lack of home domination concerns me.

It does seem like the offense is picking up again, and there are some bright spots all around: Samardzija, Cueto keeps on trucking, Duffy and Panik seem to be warming up, and the young arms in the bullpen are impressing.

It was fun to see Bonds too.

Week in Review: Swept in 4 by the Diamondbacks, then took 2 of 3 from the Marlins. 9-11 overall, 4th place in the West, 3.5 games behind the Dodgers.

Hitter of the Week: Matt Duffy had 10 hits this week, and saw his average climbing back to normal. Hat tip to Gregor Blanco for continuing to be the best 4th outfielder in baseball. He went 6 for 12 this week with 3 triples.

But the hitter(s) of the week are two starting pitchers: Jeff Samardzija and Jake Peavy, who both came through with big RBI hits in their starts (the only 2 wins of the week). With the Giants continuing to employ alternative lineups, these kinds of at bats are extremely valuable.

Pitcher of the Week: I want so badly to write about Jeff Samardzija (as I did last week). I finally got to see him pitch in real-time this week and it was awesome. The results were great, obviously, but he pitched like a stud pitcher should pitch: in control of the game and his pitches, nasty stuff, and able to dominate all over the strike zone with 4 different kinds of pitches. He was very impressive.

I’m going to name Jake Peavy pitcher of the week, though, because who knows if he’ll ever get in this space again. Peavy is, admittedly, my least favorite of the five starters, and the one with the lowest upside, but even if he pitches well, there are too many other good pitchers on the roster. The chances of Peavy outshining them are small.

So, while we have the opportunity, let’s thank Jake Peavy for not sucking, and for beating one of the best young pitchers in baseball. Well done old man.

Looking Ahead: the Giants start the week by finishing the home stand with 3 games against San Diego. It would do them well to take full advantage of the inferior team here. They have their 3 best pitchers set to go, at home, so don’t mess around because after this it’s off to New York. The Met’s haven’t been lighting the world on fire, but that’s still a fine pitching staff to have to face after a long plane ride and the first big time zone change of the young season.