Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Game Wrap 2016 NLDS Game 4: Cubs 6 Giants 5

The Giants final game of the 2016 season proved to be a microcosm of the whole season, at least the second half of it.  The bullpen  blew the game and the season.  It's as simple as that.  Key Lines(averages are postseason):

Denard Span- 2 for 5, 2B.  BA= .267.  Span had 4 hits in 11 AB over the last 2 games with 2 doubles and a triple.  To my eye, Span played noticeably better with with more energy after he started platooning with Gorkys Hernandez in CF.

Conor Gillaspie- 4 for 4.  BA= .400.  Gillaspie was a valuable bat off the bench all season and he really came to life in the postseason.  Had the Giants gone on to win this series, he would have been my choice for series MVP.

Joe Panik- 2 for 3, SF.  BA= .600.  Joe Panik's bat came to life in the last few games.  A good omen for next season?

Matt Moore- 8 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 10 K's.  Moore pitched like an ace and deserved a much better outcome to the game.  I think Pete Rose asked a really good question on the postgame show.  Why not let Moore pitch the 9'th inning?  Yes, he had thrown 120 pitches, but was coming off his easiest inning of the night and had thrown 133 in a regular season start.  He was pitching on 8 days rest and would not have to pitch again for 7 days if the Giants ended up advancing to the NLCS.  Bochy obviously knew the bullpen was gassed.  Why not give Moore a chance to finish it?

9'th Inning- Curious managing by Bochy here, reminiscent of Felipe Alou's frenetic pitching changes.  If Boch felt he could not ask Moore to go back out for the 9'th, why start with they guy who had thrown the most pitches of any reliever the night before?  Coming into the game, I felt there was no way either Law or Romo should be used after pitching 2 innings each the night before and it turned out that both looked completely gassed.  If Boch wanted to play matchup, he should have done it with Strickland, Smith and Kontos. Maybe Lopez.  I don't agree with Dave Cameron much, but I agree with his take that Smith probably should have been the guy to hand to ball to in the 9'th and let him finish it come hell or high water.  I guess the silver lining is there is now no way Evans and Sabes will be tempted to not rebuild the bullpen this winter, starting with a frontline closer.


So, that's it folks.  The season is over.  We can move on to rooting for the Dodgers to lose which is almost as satisfying as the Giants winning!  Stick around for the offseason.  I will post when I have something to write about.  I may go a day or 3 without posting anything or I might write 3 posts in 1 day!  We'll definitely do the one and only DrB's Giants Top 50 Prospects starting sometime after the Winter Meetings.  We'll cover offseason trades and FA signings.  I am hoping to have more complete draft coverage this year starting in the offseason and we'll probably do some fantasy baseball stuff.


  1. As always, thank you for your coverage throughout the season. Your site is the first thing I check every morning.

    1. During baseball season it's my #1 go-to site as well.

    2. Thanks to everybody for reading and commenting.

  2. Following-up on Bryce's comment, yes, a huge thank you, Dr. B.

    I'm looking forward to your hot stove and prospect coverage.

    Go Giants!

  3. Agree with all your speculation. Super stoked about the starting rotation next season. A closer but also a better lefty than Osich or Okert. Jerry Blevins would be at the top of my list. He also is great against right handed hitters. Strickland is a mid inning guy at best. His fastball has no movement.

  4. The 9th was pretty horrible. After Lopez gave up the walk, I had to leave the room. I just 'knew*' that we were going to get a bullpen meltdown.

    What made me disappointed about the game, and the squandered season, was how the bullpen just killed us during the year. When we signed Cueto & Samardzija to replace Hudson & Linecum, I figured if they performed as well as they did in 2015 (never mind improving back to their performance averages) we could be a 96 win team even with a bit of offensive regression.

    But even though we have, for years, lacked a high-quality closer, I really didn't expect the bullpen to meltdown so badly. So instead winning the division we were an 87 win team with a ticking-time-bomb bullpen that had a save rate of around 55% instead of the 70%-to-75% we had for the prior five years. Which, in 70 save opportunities during the season, cost us 10-to-14 games depending on how you slice it.

    But with the bitter dregs of last-night drunk, I'm already hopeful that with a rebuilt/retooled bullpen next year we'll be back on top. Not only will Moore come back, giving us a solid #3/#4 guy, but even without him for most of the year our starting pitching was among the best in all MLB. And that's despite Peavy, Suarez and Cain stinking up almost every time they started. 5th ERA. 5th FIP. 8th XFIP. 6th in WAR. Plus our defense was rock solid, finishing 2nd to the Cubs. And our skill-position Team WAR (fWAR) was 3rd in the majors. Last, Evans has certainly given signs that fixing the bullpen will be an important project during this Hot Stove.

    So, yeah, it sucked. I really wanted the Giants to knock the Cubs out and make the streak 108. (BTW, I told my wife that this AM and she said "You baseball fans are really vicious." But I was like "No, this losing streak has historical importance and continuing it is a baseball tradition!")

    Anyway, with the Warriors bound to regress and the 49ers lacking any semblance of an NFL level QB, here's to Hot Stove and Spring Training!!!

    (*Not really, but it's the way the season has been going.)

  5. “With the way the ball bounced that last inning, I hate to use the word ‘destiny,’ but they’ve had a great year,” Bochy said of the Cubs. “That’s quite a comeback they mounted.”i really hope that bochy is not this clueless. the cubs did not beat the giants in game 4. like in every other one of the 30 blown saves this season, the giants beat themselves
    was a poetic end to the season
    giants have a lot of work to do this offseason. at least the sp looks pretty much that's a good thing

    1. He knows that. But he can't say it. It would throw players under the bus and make him look like a crybaby.

  6. Thanks from Canada Doc!
    A big bat for the outfield, and bullpen help; would be appreciated Mr.Evans and Mr.Sabean!

    Richard In Winnipeg

  7. Thanks for your blog Dr. B!
    I enjoy every post.

    This season was truly disappointing. Best team in baseball for the first half (probably overachieving somewhat). Then one of the worst teams in baseball in August and September. The bullpen collapse was pretty epic starting at the All-Star break and culminating with last night. What's sad, is how predictable last night was. When they were up 5-2, I was still extremely nervous. I was begging for Moore to come back out for the ninth. As soon as Lopez came in, I turned to my son who was studying for a math test and said, "Cubs Win 6-5" and I turned the TV off. I didn't watch any of the ninth inning.

    I am not one of those crazies who wants Bochy, Evans, and Sabean fired. You can't replace them with anyone better. However, everyone knew that they needed a closer and they didn't get one at the trade deadline. I don't think Bochy handled this bullpen well. He ran Casilla out there so often to blow so many saves that it shook the confidence of the entire bullpen. By late August, everyone that went out there in the 9th looked like they were trying not to lose rather than going out there to dominate, which is the attitude that a 9th inning guy should have. It really made me miss guys like Rod Beck and Rob Nen. They not only brought great stuff to the mound in the ninth, they brought confidence and an attitude of invincibility. We really need a closer who brings that confidence and attitude back to the ninth inning.

  8. Thanks from Hawaii DrB. I'm disappointed because I wanted to see a game 5. Too bad.. looks like some players will use this as motivation which is a good thing. It's depressing when baseball season ends, but I'll still get my Giants fix visiting your blog in the off season. Thanks!


  9. Thank you for another year of your great work. Love the blog!

  10. Let me join the chorus of thanks for your blog, Doc.

    I wonder if we'll ever find out why Bochy pulled Moore after 8. The guy had plenty of pitches in him, most people thought; why Bochy didn't I suspect he'll never say.

    As for this off season:

    After this post-season the last three of the core four will be gone. (I'd kind of like to see Casilla sign with the A's.)

    Wouldn't be surprised to see Belt go in a trade. Sabean's comments -- and disgusted tone -- in commenting about how Belt couldn't hit in the 3-4-5 spots were very telling. That's a lot of money to pay a big first baseman who wants to walk all the time.

    Unless they make a signing in the range of Cespedes, I kind of hope they go with a Williamson/Parker platoon in left. Seems like those two would combine for 30 HR, adequate average, somewhat improved defense (much better arms) and might finally blossom. Really don't want to sign some middling LF.

    If Belt goes I'd like to see a starting-caliber catcher acquired and have him split 1st base and catching with Posey, keeping Posey fresh and still allowing him to catch most of another (I hope) post-season run. Three catchers (including Brown), two of whom could play 1st, would allow Bochy to pinch hit Brown and give him an occasional start. (McCann? Vogt?)

    As for the obvious need for a closer, if one is signed, I suspect it'll be Melancon. More likely would be a trade for a younger, upcoming stopper from a team not quite in contention; that seems more the Sabean/Evans style. Perhaps a multiplayer deal with the Yanks involving Belt and Betances?

    Just food for thought. Thanks again!

    1. I would not be shocked to see Belt go either. I don't think they would just dump him, but his contract is team friendly enough that he could be an attractive target for another team with something to give that the Giants need.

    2. i have to agree about belt. its looking more and more like buster is going to have to move out from behind the dish if he wants to extend his career. belt has good numbers....on paper. and the org can sell another team on belt's power numbers being not what they should be because of att. dont think he can bring a front line closer, but definitely a solid pen man

    3. It's not clear to me that the Giants would be better off trading Belt, but he's probably the most tradeable of the Giants big contracts, so it would not shock me to see him moved over the winter, especially if the Giants decide a roster shakeup is needed.

    4. And we see that Belt remains a very polarizing player for the fan base.

  11. Once again, I am left to defend Belt on this blog. haha

    I understand the frustrations with Belt, but apart from the lack of 30 HR power, he is a great player. Yes, he will never be the middle of the order cornerstone like Rizzo or Goldschmidt are, but he is a good piece to have in a lineup.

    I am not against trading Belt, but the Giants better get legitimate value for him if they do. Trading Belt for another Will Smith won't cut it. If they trade Belt to add power in LF or 3B, I would be okay with that. If we do that, though, we then have a hole at 1B. Some might say, "Well, we move Posey to 1B!" Great. Now you have a hole at catcher; great catchers don't grow on trees and we just traded our best internal replacement (Susac) a couple months ago.

    So, I just think trading Belt is problematic, though not necessarily a bad idea of there is a larger plan in place to make up for the loss in value. If trading Belt allows the Giants to get one or more players that can add even 1 more WAR, then it is good. What I don't want is something like what the Dbacks did last offseason where they traded Ender Enciarte plus their top prospect for a pitcher (Shelby Miller) who contributed less WAR than what they gave up. That would be stupid.

    1. You're not the only one. And I started to this AM, but I've been having sleep problems so I needed to just chill and drink coffee without getting riled up.

      So, Belt. Over past three years (1,000 PA) he's #2 on OBP and #1 in SLG% and ISO on the team. And while he does strike out (not advancing the runner) a lot, he doesn't hit into many double-plays because he doesn't hit a lot of grounders (31%, best on team where 0% is perfect). He also rarely hits IFFB (4.7%, best on team again) plus the highest BABIP on the team with the lowest soft-contact and the highest hard-contact. All of this means when he hits the ball, he most likely will hit it hard, deep and to the outfield, so even it it's an out, there's still a reasonable chance to advance the runner. Plus he walks a lot. Can't double-play a walk.

      Ultimately, to me, he's the perfect #2 man because, at #2, he's going to get the second most ABs and he does a lot with it (except hit 30HR/year) while showing less double-play risk should the lead-off hitter reach base. (Belt is 35th in hitting into double-plays of all 1B with 1,000 AB during the past three years. And while some is probably due to his batting order and he's 20th in ABs, that's still very good.)

      Next comes his defense. He is the #1 defensive (FanGraphs (UZR/150 & DEF)) 1st baseman over the past three year and is 4th (1st base), during the past three years in DRS with +20 DRS.

      And yet... I guess people have a paradigm and they're going to judge everyone on it. Even if the player is a very good player who, in his three mostly/fully healthy years (of the past 4) has been a 4+ (4.4, 4.1, 4.4) WAR player.

    2. Since Bochy was inspired to have Belt bat #2, I have been a good bit more enthusiastic about having him. The high K-rate continues to annoy me, and far worse for me has been his streaky plate performance, his unreliability, with my added unproven suspicion that his problems lie in his head. Batting second, he's at least playing to his at-plate strengths, in hitting behind a runner at first, getting on base a lot through walks, and exercising enough plate discipline to put pressure on the opposing pitcher.

      But I am struck with the parallels between Belt and the bullpen, in that they share the problem of unreliability. We lost this year not because the 'pen was overall so deplorable, for it wasn't, but because it was so undependable. Ditto Belt at the plate. I've been insisting on this site and others that baseball analysis, like stock market analysis, needs some kind of volatility index--if we would get queasy at a left fielder, say, who made some great plays but also often botched routine ones, why should we not feel the same way about the offense? about Belt's hitting .300 into mid-July and .230-.240 from then till the end of the season?

    3. campanari,

      I actually like the idea of a volatility index for hitters, or maybe a measurement of how streaky a hitter is. Obviously, a more consistent hitter is better than one that is hot and cold. Fangraphs or some other sabermetric group needs to get on this!

    4. In addition to playing 1B and hitting second, Belt plays the fan-scapegoat position. If he is traded, the same group of fans will find someone else to blame for everything, and not everyone can handle that. I wish he could avoid his long slumps, but I accept him as a good 1B, who is likely to come short of meeting higher expectations. He can also cover up a lot of bad throws to 1B, and I do not know how it refkects to statistics. He is tradable; he is not Bumgarner or Posey; but you'd better get someone really good in return.

    5. I wouldn't want Belt to be traded unless (a) it were part of a clearly beneficial package or (b) they decided they needed materially more time for Posey at 1st. They swear they don't want the latter, though I doubt them.

      My personal preference is for a package in which the most notable pieces were Belt and Betances. (And yes, I'd throw in Beede.)

  12. very. may have something to do with his inability to get rid of his tell when he is in a slump. will be very interested to read your take on today's post mortem. interesting that they threw kelly and hayes under the bus. media outlets are reporting that both have been fired, but we know that isnt how the giants operate. i have a feeling that kelly will move back to first and the giants will find a vet 3rd base coach. hayes will probably end up somewhere else in the org, unless he chooses to get another gig. giants would never totally part with guys who were a part of their ws championships. the org just made an error thinking they could easily take control of these two positions..

    1. There is no "tell"! As for Kelly and Hayes, I'd bet that Tim Flannery wasn't exactly perfect when he first started coaching 3B and after working as Bochy's 3B coach for almost 20 years, I'm not sure he's completely replaceable, especially in Bochy's mind.

  13. Regarding Belt, it's simply this line from Jerry McGuire:

    That does NOT inspire people.

    A gumby-shouldered, free-pass-seeking corner infielder is just not going to inspire the fan-base nor, most importantly, his teammates.

    Belt always looks like he is methodically working at the plate. Compare with, say, Baez of the Cubs (since he's fresh in our minds). Everything about every move Baez makes says, "Give me the bat! Let me hit! I will CRUSH it! Let me hit for everyone!"

    It's not that Belt hasn't had his moments. But mostly he just trudging through it.

    Advanced stats love him.

    But, honestly, ask yourself, do you want him at the plate with the game or season on the line? He's about the last guy I want up there.