Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Game Wrap 4/17/2018: D'Backs 1 Giants 0

Johnny Cueto was electric for 7 innings, but the Giants lineup found a new low against lefty Patrick Corbin and the Snakes edged out a win after scoring a run on reliever Tony Watson in the bottom of the 8'th inning.  Key Lines:

Brandon Belt 1B- 1 for 3.  BA= .256.  Belt broke up the no-hitter in the top of the 8'th inning with a purposeful check swing grounder to beat the shift.  That's it!  A walk to Joe Panik was the only other baserunner Corbin allowed.

Johnny Cueto RHP- 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 11 K's.  ERA= 0.45.  It was Cueto at his best.  This loss is on the hitters.

Tony Watson LHP- 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 1.17.  Watson relieved Cueto after 97 pitches in the 8'th.  A 1 out walk to Jarrod Dyson, a sac bunt by Corbin and a basehit single up the middle to Peralta and that was the ballgame.

Patrick Corbin LHP(D'Backs)- 9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K's.  ERA= 1.65.  One way pitchers are combatting the launch angle revolution is by throwing more breaking balls.  In fact, we are already starting to hear talk of a breaking ball revolution!  Patrick Corbin is leading that charge and getting results.  Here are Corbin's percentage of fastballs over the past 3 seasons:  63.5%, 53.4 %, 48.6%.  Here are his percentages of sliders:  26.5%, 38.0%, 46.8%.  Here are Corbin's cumulative Pitch Values over his career(per Fangraphs):  FB -43.8.  SL 34.6.  

One last point:  IDK what the Giants are doing with launch angles.  I know they are working with at least some of their hitters to increase them.  We do know the Giants are not very good at hitting breaking balls.  The word has obviously gotten out and they have seen a steady diet of breaking balls in the early going this season which partly explains their anemic offense.


With the Loss, the Giants fall to 6 games below he NL West leading D'Backs.  They will probably avoid falling into last place because the Dodgers are leading the Padres late in their game. 


Chris Stratton tries to stop the losing streak tomorrow night facing another lefty, Robbie Ray.


  1. It's still early.
    Bu how is "better" pitching going to help enough?

    1. Who said "better" pitching was going to help? Except for a couple of bullpen guys, the pitching has not been the problem.

    2. That was my point -- although the pitching will get better (with 4 guys including Cueto returning), why will that help?
      Inarticulate that I am, it was clearer to me than to a reader.
      It's still early, with better pitching, can that really help?

  2. OK, it's "only" 10% into the season, the pitching -- maybe less than championship quality -- has not been the problem. Without the hobbed together staff, we wouldn't even be close to .400, but really mired in netherland.
    Here's the question, Doc, is the hitting going to come around - are the ricey additions going to stop being subtractions, is Buster going to get some help?
    We know that, as good as he is, he cannot carry the team. He needs more than Panik getting on base ahead of him. Not just the "big" three acquisitions, but Hunley and Sandoval -- our other "acquisitions" -- are bagging it.
    OK, championships are not won in April and the Dodgers are trying to keep it close, but, realistically, can these guys freakin' hit? Like mediocre major leaguers?
    This ain't going to work, and I'm kind of glad I'm in Australia for this epic nothing, but, really, where's it going to come from?
    It's beginning to look like an "OBO" July!

    1. I wish I had a better answer for you, but I was THIS close to writing in the main post that the Giants are getting perilously close to being out of playoff contention before the end of April.

      I also just woke up in the middle of the night with the thought in my head, "What if? What if the Giants had kept their powder dry, trusted the kids and let them compete for jobs in spring training?" We all thought Steven Duggar was the guy, but even if he proved to need more salt, they could have fielded an OF of Mac in LF, Gorkys/Blanco in CF and Austin Slater in RF. Put Pablo at 3B and that lineup would almost certainly not be worse than what they have now.

    2. I too was okay going into the season with the young kids taking over at the start of the season too, not that I don't love the Longoria and McCutchen upgrades. That was my stance entering the off-season.

      But "what if" Longoria and McCutchen had hit like we expect them to, then we wouldn't be entertaining these other "what if" thoughts about the young guys. Longoria was in a slump early but mostly at home (and per The Athletic reporting, there is a bad hitter's eye at AT&T that affects hitters not used to it to the extent that the Giants has an huge scoring advantage in the first inning, according to their analysis; plus, I would note that this is probably what Grissom, Alfonzo, and Durham were talking about when they said that it took them a season to figure out how to hit in AT&T), and once he got on the road, he has hit .375/.375/.688/1.063 since going on the road. Too bad he had to have an injury (and just standing in the batter's box for a pitcher to have a reference point too! Just make Tomlinson or Gorkys do that!) when we are playing in Arizona, a great hitter's park.

      Plus, it would help if McCutchen could spread out his hitting, as without his 6-hit game, he would be scuffling as bad a Pence probably. I think our offense will take off once he starts hitting like McCutchen can, again.

      And it didn't help that as other heated up, Posey cooled off, .258 OPS the past week. Plus, I get that Bochy needs to give Hundley some starts, to keep Posey fresher, but the team ERA with Posey is 2.71, while it is 5.12 with Hundley. Of course, it helps that he got all the Cueto starts, but still, Blach, Holland, and Beede pitch much worse with Hundley behind the plate, than Posey. Small samples, but the Giants are 0-5 with Hundley, 6-5 with Posey, and as much as I like having an offensive catcher, I think it has hurt the Giants to not have a better defensive catcher (like we had with Chris Stewart, who was an excellent framer when we had him).

      And as much as I love Posey, I think it hurts some to take Belt out just because it's a LHP, recent factoid I learned recently was that if you took out Belt's AB's with Kershaw, his batting line vs. LHP is almost the same as it is against RHP, in order words, a great hitter no matter which side a pitcher throws, unless his name is Kershaw. I'm sure there are a few other Oh-fers in his record, but the main gist is that it hurts offensively (and defensively) to sit Belt down when Posey plays first. It would be better offensively to shift Pence out (who has not hit as well against LHP as Belt has since he became a Giant), when Posey plays first (and probably about the same defensively, at this point, Pence has never been all that good defensively in the OF per advanced stats).

    3. I don't 'love' those upgrades.

      McCutchen has been problematic as a fielder and his hitting has not made up for it, even with the two walk-offs. We're talking .275 OBP to go with crappy fielding. We're talking more rally killing wiffs leading to losses than games won when you factor in his fielding.

      Longoria has a good glove when he gets to the ball, but his range is diminished and Sandoval, with 0.1 fWAR has contributed more to the team defensively than Longoria, who is another millstone around the neck of the team. And Longoria's bat? Holy ****! Talk about cold - 1.8% walk to 32.7% strike-out.

      Jackson is also not hitting, though at least his defense has been good. So, of the three, he's at least been 'merely mediocre' instead of a dead-weight.

      I'll be blunt, I was in the start rebuilding camp. Take your lumps with some of the young guys. Give them a chance. I'd rather flail around a bit with Duggar, Slater, Williamson, Arroyo & Shaw than drag it out to another sub-par season with Jackson, McCutcheon, Pence & Longoria while the young guys get one year older for no good reason.

  3. Hunter Pence has been a great Giant. He is a tireless worker, and no one plays harder. He is a credit to the organization on and off the field. And, his body may simply be worn out. He played 155+ games per season for a long time, and he played those games with abandon. The sad truth is, as bad as his numbers are, and they are plenty bad, he scores even worse on the eye test. Mac Williamson is not going to solve all the Giants offensive problems, but he would be a step in the right direction.

    Step two would be to figure out how to get some at bats for Austin Slater. He showed he could hold his own at the plate last year, before he was injured. His performance so far in Sacramento suggests his hit tool is legit. Would that much be lost by sticking him in CF?

    Bobby Evans and Brian Sabean did the best they could, given the limited minor league resources and budget limitations they had to work with. The injuries to Bumgarner and the Shark hurt, for sure. But, would any of us really be surprised to find out we are looking at a 90 loss team here?

  4. I thought Pence would surprise people this year, but it's getting dangerously close to him becoming the 5th OFer in my mind. You can only say it's early for so long, the sample size is getting big enough now. Mac needs to be playing eveey day for a few weeks. Longo deal is horrible already, can you imagine in a few years ? Bat looks slow. Hindsight is nice but look at the cheap options like Neil Walker at the end of FA if we really wanted to add.

    1. i could see pence go on the dl soon with a phantom injury and bubble wrap him until september or waive him and pay him not to play for the rest of the season.

  5. I've not given up on the season yet, way too early. It is almost an annual dance now in the NL West, but most years seem to h have one team that charges out front early on, looking invincible, but then falls back to the pack, and another team or more find that next gear and catches up. The offense has been stalled, but I think a lot of it has been facing great pitching as well, like Corbin, or Kershaw twice.

    Corbin and others are following the lead of McCullers (and I assume Houston), who threw a TON of breaking balls in the playoffs. And, if I may take pride in our team, the Giants again led that innovation with Romo, who threw a TON of sliders when he pitched. I understand the Giants not wanting to share their secret sauce, but sometimes I wish they would be more prideful and show off their leading edge. Writers wrote about other teams like the Royals about contact hitters, but the Giants have had them for a while too. And I love how their lineup has been balanced vs. L or R, as we have hitters like Panik, Posey, and the Brandons, who hit their same sided pitchers really well.

    I love Pence too, and I still think that he can still hit (as he did over the last two months of 2017, .817 OPS), but he's getting close to McGehee uselessness. Meanwhile, people are ga-ga over Williamson, but it hasn't even been two weeks of hot hitting yet. 9 years ago, people when ga-ga over Freddie Lewis' two weeks of hot hitting (over 1.000 OPS) and was mad when he was dropped from the lineup two months later, but for those two months he batted mid-600's OPS. So we don't want to put the cart before the horse.

    That said, if Pence is still scuffling by May, and Williamson proves that this hot start is more than lucky BABIP (and he seems to be, only 5 K's in 35 AB, good contact rate, plus 7 walks vs. 5 K's, which is great eye; but a .500 BABIP is not sustainable, nor his HR rate, which works out to over 100 HR in a 600 AB season), then I think the Giants will have to consider bringing up Mac to start in LF, who would take Gorkys spot in the OF (but which makes the expected promotion of Duggar a dicier decision, as the Giants either drop Blanco, which leaves two RHH on OF bench in Jackson and Pence, or drop Pence; this brings up my sore point of the off-season, that the Giants should have gotten Jarrod Dyson, who is brilliant in the OF defense, much much better than Jackson, and good vs. RHP as a LHH, and in this situation, with Dyson and Pence on the bench, the bench has a lefty and righty).

    As has been reported, the Giants lineup has been pressing big time, gripping their bats with a death lock. I think the team will figure things out, especially once Shark rejoins the rotation, and give us a better chance each start than whomever he replaces. I'm not ready for gloom and doom yet, not until this lineup has a chance to gel and get things going, I still like the new lineup, it should be strong 1 to 8, but just hasn't been producing yet.

    And I'm not throwing in the towel until we at least get Bumgarner back, and see how the team goes from there. But another June Swoon, and I could join many of you in that corner.

  6. If I had to bet all my money on the Giants making the playoffs right now I would bet against them. Easy to say and of course they still have a chance but lets be honest with ourselves. The window is closing fast if not already closed on this teams chances as it is currently assembled and this is probably Bochy's last year.

    The good news is that I don't think anything they did in the offseason is going to negatively affect this teams chances to rebuild and rebound within a year or two. They should get another high pick this year in the draft and have plenty of pieces to sell off that actually could have some value to other teams. Much like what the Marlins did, I would clear salary's and get young mid level prospects in return for anyone not named Posey, Madbum, or Cueto. Everyone else on this team is replaceable.

    There is zero chance the Giants actually have a full on fire sale but I could see them moving a few players like they did with Nunez last year to start clearing cap for Harper. Pence, Cutch, and Dyson will clear close to 40 million by themselves. It won't take more than trading either Belt or Longo and they can offer Harper 40-50 million a year and still claim they aren't rebuilding. Win or lose after that, fans will come to see Harper just like Bonds and they would have a rebuilt farm system ready to contribute possibly by 2020.

    This team would actually win games and put butts in seats next year:

    Dugger CF
    Panik 2B
    Harper RF
    Posey C
    Longo/Belt 3B/1B (I prefer Longo)
    Panda 1B/3B (I prefer Panda at 1B)
    Williamson/Slater LF
    Crawford SS


    The Giants management just wants people to come watch games and spend gobs of money. They know a lot of fans want a rebuild but the people that go to games want to see a show. The team above could provide both and isn't that far fetched IF they pay Harper whatever he wants!

    1. Bryce Harper will not sign with the Giants. Absolutely will not. His chances at 600+ home runs are badly diminished if he signs with the Giants and plays half his games at AT&T.

  7. There are some pluses. One of them is, If Cueto keeps pitching like this, he will have huge value at the trade deadline.