The Dodgers come to San Francisco this weekend for a three-game series against the Giants where there will be a license plate frame giveaway to the first 20,000 fans on Saturday, and a Sergio Romo Gnome on Sunday to the first 30,000. The matchups tell us this is whom we should expect to see on the bump this weekend:
Raise your hand if you thought of Zito, Vogelsong, and Cain, Zito would have the best ERA going into May of the three. The stock on Zito was pretty high going into this regular season, but not so much that you thought he’d outdo them by almost double. As Giants fans, you know what you’re going to get out of Zito, Vogey, and Cainer, but do you know what you’re getting out of Kershaw (yes), Lilly (lol), and Ryu (did you know the media guide now says to say his name as “Roo”)?
Kershaw has been harassing the Giants since 2008. How much harassing? Let this table show you:
I miss when Clayton Kershaw wasn’t a starter, because even though I’m sure he’d shut down the Giants 1-2 innings at a time, at least he wouldn’t be doing it 6-9 innings at a time as a starter, which he kinda does these days. He averages at least 7.0 IP in every start against the Giants in his career. That’s insane. I’m not sure I’ll get to watch Friday’s game, and I’m not sure it’d make me that happy to anyway. But it is Barry Zito. Somehow, he has done some crazy things lately, and do you wanna be the one that bets against crazy?
Here’s Kershaw’s pitch usage for this year
Ted Lilly… hasn’t been good. He was tolerable in 2012, but so far, nothing to report. The Rockies teed off on him in his last start, and unless he gets ruled out due to injury, this is who I’ll get to see pitch for the Dodgers in person on Saturday.
Low velocity everything, so Lilly does not have that big of a margin for error, and as you can guess, he’s not been pitching within that margin, and so he’s been getting hit. The Dodgers are probably happy they have a day off tonight and a Kershaw start tomorrow so the bullpen will be well rested for Saturday’s game.
Hyun-jin Ryu is still the new guy on the block, but he’s actually ahead of Clayton Kershaw in terms of percentage of strikeouts, which doesn’t really make anybody who’s an opponent feel better about facing him, but at least the Giants have seen him once before. It was that ten hit game, and maybe there were some first-game jitters for Ryu, but he’s certainly not the reliever we thought he’d be at worst, and definitely looks like he belongs in the Dodgers rotation.
Opponents are still getting used to his four pitches, and I’ll admit I’m still getting used to what he’s putting out there despite having the TV on to the Dodgers whenever they’re on down here in sunny Southern California. Always seem to hear from pitching veterans though that a good fastball-changeup combo will do you good, and hey, throw in a third pitch in his slider that’s major league average, and there’s a starter for you, gosh darnit.
All series with the Dodgers are always spirited, but if you make your way to the yard, make sure you play nice!
The Season Series
May 16th — St. Louis 4, San Francisco 1 (AT&T Park)
May 17th — San Francisco 7, St. Louis 5 (AT&T Park)
August 6th — St. Louis 8, San Francisco 2 (Busch Stadium)
August 7th — San Francisco 4, St. Louis 2 (Busch Stadium)
August 8th — San Francisco 15, St. Louis 0 (Busch Stadium)
August 9th — St. Louis 3, San Francisco 1 (Busch Stadium)
The Cardinals were one strike away from being done. Again. Then Yadier Molina took two balls for a walk. Then they were down to their last strike on three pitches, once again. Then David Freese, Postseason Immortal, took three balls to load the bases. Daniel Descalso singled on the next pitch, and all of a sudden, Drew Storen and the Nats found themselves clinging for their lives, and after Pete Kozma took two quick strikes, then two balls, singled in Freese and Descalso. The Nationals couldn’t rally, and the Giants headed home as the Cardinals champagned themselves in Washington. Carlos Beltran tweeted that the Cardinals got to San Francisco around 6:00AM PST this morning and will have the day off while the Giants have an afternoon workout on tap.
Sunday: Game 1, 5:15PM PST, FOX: RHP Lance Lynn vs. LHP Madison Bumgarner
Postseason Performance: Lynn relieved and threw in 4 G, 3.2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 K’s. MadBum started Game 2, threw 4.1 innings, 7 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K’s. My fear is that Bumgarner is fatigued, and he will get a chance to show he’s not, likely in two starts because sweeping this St. Louis team is very unlikely in my opinion.
Monday: Game 2, 5:07PM PST, FOX: RHP Chris Carpenter vs. RHP Ryan Vogelsong
NLDS performance: Carpenter started and surrendered 7 H in 5.2 IP, 2 BB, threw 2 K’s, but saw no runs cross the plate in his start. Vogey threw in Game 3 and despite a slow start, pitched 5 innings, gave up only 3 H, 3 BB, K’d 5, and only 1 crossed the plate in their extra inning thriller. Carpenter just came back, so it must be nice for the Cardinals to have a relatively fresh arm on their staff in October.
Wednesday: Game 3, 1:07PM PST, FOX: RHP Matt Cain vs. RHP Kyle Lohse
With Wainwright throwing only 53 pitches on Friday, I’m speculating he’ll get the call here and push Lohse to Game 4. Nevermind that.
NLDS performance: Matt Cain started twice, but never got past the 6th inning, going 10.2 IP, giving up 11 H, watching 6 ER cross the plate, while walking 3, and striking out 9. Lohse has been a key to keeping his team in the game to advance past the Braves and the Nationals, striking out 11, walking 2, and surrendering 8 hits in 12.2 IP.
Thursday: Game 4, 5:07PM PST, FOX: RHP Tim Lincecum vs. RHP Adam Wainwright
Postseason performance: Lincecum struck out 8 in 6.1 IP, and not walking anyone in his two appearances while Wainwright was great in Game 1, but left it up in Game 5 and left early and if he continues to do that, he will get punished even by the less powerful Giants offense.
*Friday: Game 5, 5:07PM PST, FOX: LHP Madison Bumgarner vs. RHP Lance Lynn
*Sunday, October 21st: Game 6, 1:45PM PST, FOX: RHP Chris Carpenter vs. RHP Ryan Vogelsong
*Monday, October 22nd: Game 7: 5:07PM PST, FOX: RHP Adam Wainwright vs. RHP Kyle Lohse
* — if necessary
Playoff Offense: Cardinals — 38 runs, 50 hits in 6 G, Giants — 18 runs, 32 hits in 5 G
Averaging more than 6 runs/game, and 8 hits/game, you’d think the Cardinals had just squared off against the Rockies in Coors Field, but instead they took it to two different playoff teams from the NL East and hit. That’s pretty intimidating considering the Giants really didn’t until their last two games. As for the players that did work, Carlos Beltran (2 HR, .409/.500/.818 in 22 AB) will be the player everyone types “should of” so much that the joke will get old, especially after his 30+ HR, 10+ SB season. Allen Craig has been getting his as well, posting a .348/.444/.609 in 23 AB while manning the 1B spot. Then there’s the infamous David Freese, whose .381/.440/.524 in 21 AB who always seems to be doing something positive for the Cardinals. These three hold the 2, 4, and 6 spots in the lineup, respectively, so you can understand how the Cardinals have been scoring as many runs as they have. On the other side of the pillow has been Yadier Molina, NL MVP vote-getter, and remarkably cold, with a .095/.296/.095 line in 21 AB and leadoff hitter Jon Jay, going .167/.222/.250 in 24 AB. I don’t expect them to stay down forever.
The Giants had only three guys get on base over 30% of the time, and while the Cardinals had five, the Giants highest OBP guy in the playoffs, Gregor Blanco (.375) would rank fifth on the Cardinals for OBP, so needless to say, the Giants don’t necessarily have hitters that are as “hot” to the degree that the Cardinals have been. I like to think the Reds pitched better than the Nationals though, or at least I hope so. Back to Blanco in his 14 AB, he went .286/.375/.571 with his 1 HR included, and Pablo actually had a higher AVG than OBP in his 21 AB with a .333/.318/.571 thanks in large part to his sac fly. Angel Pagan (.150/.217/.350 in 20 AB) and Marco Scutaro (.150/.227/.200 in 20 AB), whose NLDS numbers are overall pretty unattractive started to hit again as the series started to end, so hopefully that rise in hitting will continue against St. Louis.
Their Bullpen is on Fire
St. Louis has Trevor Rosenthal (97.6), Jason Motte (96.8), Mitchell Boggs (95.8), and Joe Kelly (94.4) that all have high velocity stuff, so the Giants go from facing one good bullpen from Cincinnati to a hard throwing one in St. Louis. If those guys can locate, watch out.
The Giants are likely to be billed as the underdog, but the Giants have proved before they can score runs… at least when they leave AT&T Park.
Game 1: Cardinals win (Bumgarner unable to adjust, Cards mash)
Game 2: Giants win (Vogelsong vintage as Carpenter makes enough mistakes for Giants to win)
Game 3: Cardinals win (Cain still struggling)
Game 4: Giants win (Timmy throws a gem)
Game 5: Giants win (Bumgarner gets his revenge)
Game 6: Giants win (Cards still have trouble with Vogelsong as bullpen slams the door, but not without some of that classic torture)
Should be a wild series, and the fun starts tomorrow.
The sun and the sky may tell you it’s just another day, but we’re in the playoffs now, baby. What’s beautiful about the postseason is you don’t have to have the best team on paper, nor have had to be the best team in the regular season to win the three sets of series. Familiar face Dusty Baker and his pretty powerful pitchers and position players will come marching in to AT&T for Game 1 on Saturday. All we know about the Giants rotation is that Cain and Bumgarner are going with the other three starters available in the pen in case one of the Game 1 and/or 2 starters have a bad outing. We could potentially see some pretty interesting managing in these Games 1 and 2 from Bochy if he decides to use his starters for more than a side session’s worth of pitches. Over the course of the season, the Reds took 4 of 7 from the Giants, and they’ll try to continue having that little bit of the edge as they work to get through the 2010 Champs for their own chance at a trophy.
Game 1: Saturday, October 6th, 6:30PM PST, TBS — RHP Johnny Cueto vs. RHP Matt Cain
One sentence summary: Cueto’s one of the year’s best, but his last two starts on that came on 5 days rest saw only 8.1 IP, 18 H, 10 ER, 8 K’s combined, while Matt Cain was just fine in his last start where he got 4 days of rest, thank you very much — this Game 1 should be a good one.
Game 2: Sunday, October 7th, 6:30PM PST, TBS — RHP Bronson Arroyo vs. LHP Madison Bumgarner
One sentence summary: In the last four Arroyo starts the story is not Arroyo’s pitching, but the average of one run of run support provided by his team, and for Bumgarner the last two opponents he has shut out were the Dodgers, and the Reds when he CG SHO’d them, but that was in late June.
Game 3: Tuesday, October 9th, 2:30PM PST, TBS — I’m guessing RHP Tim Lincecum vs. RHP Mat Latos
One sentence summary: Latos in his last 3 starts (20 IP, 13 H, 14 K’s, 2 BB, 2 ER) has been pretty sharp, and that could be a problem as he goes for revenge against old division rival… who could be any one of Lincecum/Zito/Vogelsong.
Game 4 (if necessary): Wednesday, October 10th, Time TBD, TBS — I’m guessing LHP Barry Zito vs. RHP Homer Bailey
One sentence summary: If the name “Homer Bailey” sounds familiar, it should, because he just threw a no-hitter against Pittsburgh and hasn’t seen an earned run cross in one of his starts since they played LA.
Game 5 (if necessary): Thursday, October 11th, Time TBD, TBS — RHP Matt Cain vs. RHP Johnny Cueto
The Playoff Bats Are Loaded
The Reds and Giants both clinched their division on September 22nd, so their pitchers and bats have had plenty of time to rest and turn it down a notch, so I beefed up my small sample size from the normal “past seven games” to “past fourteen games” to give an idea of the work that’s been put in since around the time the clinch happened.
You may have heard Joey Votto had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee to repair a torn meniscus on July 17th, and while he did return on September 5th, he has not homered since June 24th. But don’t be fooled by his lack of four-baggers as he’s still proving productive (.410 wOBA L14, .436 wOBA overall) in the Reds lineup, and finished 1st overall in the NL in OBP. Had he stayed healthy, I imagine he would’ve been in the MVP discussion. Xavier Paul has also proved useful of late for the Reds (.386 wOBA L14, .364 wOBA overall), but he’s typically an extra OF so you might not see him regularly tending the grass out in AT&T and GABP. Drew Stubbs (.128, .278), Ryan Hanigan (.168, .304), and ROY candidate Todd Frazier (.174, .352) have all been underperforming of late. The Reds have seven guys with double digit homer counts and they are: Jay Bruce (34), Ryan Ludwick (26), Todd Frazier (19), Brandon Phillips (18), Zack Cozart (15), Drew Stubbs (14), and Joey Votto (14). Drew Stubbs (30) and Brandon Phillips (15) are the only guys the Reds have with double digit SB.
You’ve come to know the Giants pretty well after 162 games with them, so you know where the power and the speed can come from. Of late, the most productive guy over the past two weeks has been by wOBA…. Hector Sanchez (.448) in 25 PA. I know. He probably gets a start behind the plate for Game 3 or Game 4 with Posey at 1B. Other Giants of over .400 wOBA in the last 14 are Marco Scuatro (.439, .328 wOBA overall), Buster Posey (.425, .404), Pablo Sandoval (.413, .336), and Brandon Belt (.403, .342). Nobody’s been as cold as the coldest Reds players have been for the Giants, but guys that could get a start that have been underproductive are Gregor Blanco (.239, .309), Brandon Crawford (.254, .279), and Hunter Pence (.257, .322). While the Reds are beefy with power, the Giants are not defined by the long ball. Buster Posey (24), Hunter Pence (24), and Pablo Sandoval (12) are the only guys on the active roster with double digit dingers. The Giants can run a little bit, as evidenced by four guys having double digit steals like Angel Pagan (29), Gregor Blanco (26), Ryan Theriot (13), and Brandon Belt (12).
I expect this to be a series that will really test the Giants confidence in their own abilities as this set of games with shift back and forth, ultimately with the Giants coming out on top.
Game 1: Giants win (Cain bests Cueto in pitcher’s duel that gets the nation’s attention)
Game 2: Giants win (Arroyo sees little run support still, MadBum rolls)
Game 3: Reds win (Lincecum hangs too many, gets overpowered by Reds)
Game 4: Reds win (Zito and Vogelsong can’t hold down Reds in high scoring affair)
Game 5: Giants win (Giants solve Cueto while Cain keeps the Reds in the park)
While the Giants have been trying to figure out their roster for the postseason, the Dodgers have reeled off five straight victories to keep themselves in the hunt for the second wild card. With their elimination number being two, the Dodgers can only afford to lose one game of this series at the very most, and that assumes that the Cardinals woud lose all three games of their series with Cincinnati. If the Cardinals lose two against the Reds this week, the Dodgers must sweep to force a tiebreaker. Then there’s the number one crazy scenario that if the Dodgers sweep the Giants and the Reds sweep the Cardinals the Dodgers would make the playoffs while St. Louis would be left scratching their heads, making it the second year in a row the World Series champion from the season prior did not make the playoffs. Should the Giants eliminate the Dodgers/Dodgers get eliminated before Wednesday, I do not expect Clayton Kershaw to make the Wednesday start.
Monday, October 1st: RHP Matt Cain vs. RHP Aaron Harang
One sentence summary: In his three starts against LA, Cain has allowed 2 BB in 21.1 IP and 0 HR, while this will be Harang’s first look at the Giants, and he has allowed multiple walks in his last five starts, plus he’s also not been able to get to the sixth inning since mid-August.
Tuesday, October 2nd: LHP Barry Zito vs. LHP Chris Capuano
One sentence summary: In five starts against the Dodgers, the defense has backed Zito has he’s allowed 7 ER in that time, while in Capuano’s two starts against the Giants, he’s seen 8 ER attached to his record.
Wednesday, October 3rd: RHP Ryan Vogelsong vs. LHP Clayton Kershaw
One sentence summary: Ryan Vogelsong may have better results in the HRA department vs. his opponent than Kershaw does in this matchup (0 to 2) when SF-LA meet up, but it’ll be up to Vogelsong to show he can pitch well against someone other than the Padres.
Superstar Bats Are Prevailing
Matt Kemp may not be leading the team in HR (23), but the loved-by-LA Bison has roped 4 HR in the past week while sporting a crazy .650 wOBA in the past week (.390 wOBA overall). The previously cold Shane Victorino (.468 wOBA Last 7, .316 wOBA overall) and AJ Ellis (.460 wOBA L7, .337 wOBA overall) have even contributed a dinger to the cause. Adrian Gonzalez (.430, .345) may not have HR’d in the past week, but his .524 BABIP has led him to be a team player as well. Let us not forget this team just played the Padres and the Rockies. Mark Ellis (.247 wOBA L7, .316 wOBA overall) and Andre Ethier (.240, .343) have the lone scuffling numbers within the past week for LA.
So there’s this guy that’s making an MVP run and his name is Buster Posey and despite two GIDP’s lately to bring his total up to 19, he has been the Giants hottest bat of late (.519 wOBA L7, .404 wOBA overall). Next in line are three guys that weren’t starters at the beginning of the year: Hector Sanchez (.479 wOBA in 12 PA, .293 wOBA overall), Marco Scutaro and his sickness (.423 wOBA L7, .327 wOBA overall), and Xavier Nady and his X-ness (.421 wOBA in 14 PA, .260 wOBA overall). Just to humor you, Aubrey Huff (.268) has a higher wOBA than Nady. Maybe that didn’t make you laugh. Whatever. You should know though that they’re going to need one guy to get warmer and that is Angel Pagan who sits at the top of their lineup doing a bit not well of late (.171 wOBA L7, .338 wOBA overall). Milestone updates: Angel Pagan is 2 HR away from 10, and 1 SB away from 30; Gregor Blanco is 4 SB away from 30; Brandon Belt and Marco Scutaro are 3 HR away from 10. If Marco Scutaro gets 14 hits this series, he’ll get 200 hits for the season. 14 hits in a series would also likely be some sort of record.
Series Prediction: Good Night, LA
Although I never predict the Giants to lose a series (because baseball), I think they’ll close out the season with a series win and actually feeling decently confident as they go home to start a playoff series on Saturday.
Monday: Giants win (Matt Cain > Aaron Harang)
Tuesday: Dodgers win, yet get eliminated
Wednesday: Giants win thanks to Kershaw’s replacement
The Diamondbacks have an elimination number of four, and there’s nine games left for them to pull of an unlikely miracle. They need a lot of help, but also need to do a lot themselves, beginning with sweeping the Giants, who while they have clinched, still are acting like they have a fire of intention in their bellies. Interesting bit of recent trivia, the last time the Snakes have lost a series, it was against the Giants in Arizona, and the last time the Giants lost a series it was against the DBacks in San Francisco. It is also the only series the Giants have lost in September. The Giants will miss Tyler Skaggs, who was scratched to take the rest of the season off. Josh Collmenter and all of his tomahawks will take his place tonight.
Tuesday, September 25th: RHP Josh Collmenter vs. RHP Tim Lincecum
One sentence summary: Collmenter’s last start was July 27th against the Mets (6 IP, 5 ER), and Lincecum has had the lowest wOBA against of .302 in September of every month this season.
Wednesday, September 26th: LHP Wade Miley vs. RHP Matt Cain
One sentence summary: RHH (.312) have about a full tenth higher of a wOBA against Miley than LHH (.214), while Cain’s last two outings against the DBacks have seen 11 IP, 7 H, 7 BB, 10 K, 2 ER.
Thursday, September 27th: LHP Patrick Corbin vs. LHP Barry Zito
One sentence summary: Corbin’s last outing against the Giants of 8 IP was a season-high, while Zito’s .318 wOBA against in September means he’s probably pretty lucky to be sporting a 2.66 ERA in the same month.
Panda vs. Snake
Impressive when a guy has over a 200 wRC+ in the last week like the Diamondbacks have in Chris Johnson (221), but more impressive that the Giants have four guys. I’ll get to that in the next paragraph. Justin Upton is also contributing, but without the long ball (.467 wOBA L7, .338 wOBA overall). Aaron Hill (2 HR L7, 24 HR overall), Miguel Montero (.442 wOBA L7, .369 wOBA overall), and the notorious Paul Goldschmidt (.412 wOBA L7, .368 wOBA overall) have been enjoying their time against San Diego and Colorado. Gerardo Parra — though only 11 PA — is the only one really struggling of late (.201 wOBA L7, .309 wOBA overall).
Those four guys with over a 200 wRC+ in the past week? I’m sure you got Pablo (362!), then Hector (222 in 11 PA), Scutaro (203), and Belt (202 in 15 PA). Pablo’s .703 wOBA in the past week is outstanding and I’m going to venture a guess that it doesn’t stay that hot for the remainder of the season. In addition to the four guys I mentioned, Angel Pagan has also been leading the lineup off right (.443 wOBA L7, .344 wOBA overall). Guys that have been slowing down a bit include the awkward Hunter Pence (.191 wOBA L7, ) and the blue-eyed Brandon Crawford (.207, .281). Angel Pagan is two SB away from 30, and two HR away from 10.
It should be interesting to watch how Bochy plays the field here (I giggled when I typed that), but by scratching Skaggs, I’m not sure the DBacks have concerns about winning right now.
Tuesday: Diamondbacks win (Goldschmidt)
Wednesday: Giants win (Matt Cain)
Thursday: Giants win (Because I said so)
What I’ve Been Reading (that I believe are important)
Alex Pavlovic’s Postgame Notes from Sunday
Grant Brisbee’s little Barry Zito piece
Bill Baer’s response to a Philly media member and only using the eyes to scout
The broadcaster bias work on WSJ
Wendy Thurm’s Melky article on Fangraphs
I have been a little surprised by the low number of Giants fans doing Hanley’s “I See You” monocle-style to tell the Dodgers what their elimination number is (3). You may be surprised to learn that the Diamondbacks are still mathematically in it, with their E# being the loneliest number. Now the Giants look to eliminate two opponents in one series as Bud Black brings the 2010 West runner-ups to AT&T in what has the chance to be a very happy series for supporters of the Giants. For those that follow me on the tweeter, you know I’ll be at Saturday’s game hoping for a big celebration.
Friday, September 21st: RHP Chris Kelly vs. RHP Ryan Vogelsong
One sentence summary: Kelly’s a top prospect finding his way around the system, while Vogelsong has struggled to go more than 3.1 IP in 4 of his last 7 starts.
Saturday, September 22nd: LHP Andrew Werner vs. LHP Madison Bumgarner
One sentence summary: While Wener has gone at least 5.0 IP in each of his five starts, he did allow 2 HR to the Rox last time out; MadBum could be going for the clinch while surpassing 200 IP for the year if he pitches at least 1.2 innings.
Sunday, September 23rd: Some Padre Pitcher vs. RHP Tim Lincecum
One sentence summary: Timmy has at least 6 IP and 6 K’s in each of his last four starts, which is very encouraging considering the first half struggles.
California Bats: Hot and Not
This is going to be quick because I’m out of time — Who’s hot in the past week for the team from San Diego: Andy Parrino, Jesus Guzman, Yonder Alonso, Chase Headley. Who’s not: Chris Denorfia, Will Venable.
As for the Gigantes who’s hot in the past week: Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey, Marco Scutaro, Angel Pagan. Who’s not: Brandon Belt, Joaquin Arias. Notice that those “hot” names are all at the top of the order, which pretty much guarantees runs for your favorite team.
The Weekend They Clinch: Series Prediction
While it may be a little risky to say the Giants will clinch, no one would be surprised if they did it this weekend.
Friday: Padres win
Saturday: Giants win
Sunday: Giants win and clinch
The last time the Giants played the Rockies, Colorado was but a 56-win team. Now, Colorado has graduated to 58, and has visions of a 60-win season for 2012. That’s me being a big ass, and hey, maybe the Rockies will split, or even win the series over the Giants — never know with this crazy sport! If it was easy to predict, we’d all be rich from betting on it. As far as I know, Troy Tulowitzki is with the team, but of course we haven’t seen him play since the first half of the season, which seems like forever ago. The Giants have a four-gamer with the Rockies, and could knock off as much as 7 E# from that “9″ that currently stands next to their name by the end of this series. The Dodgers have Monday off, and then begin a three-gamer in Washington D.C. This of course means that the Giants cannot clinch a playoff spot on the last day of this series, even if the Giants can actually pull off a sweep, which would be worthy of celebration in and of itself.
Monday, September 17th: RHP Jhoulys Chacin vs. LHP Madison Bumgarner
One sentence summary: The rematch you’ve been waiting fo– no you haven’t, but you do want MadBum to go longer than the 4.1 IP he did last time, but wouldn’t mind Chacin only going 4.0 IP or less again.
Tuesday, September 18th: LHP Jeff Francis vs. RHP Tim Lincecum
One sentence summary: Another rematch and last time Tim Lincecum (6.0 IP, 8 K) had twice as long of an outing as Jeff Francis did (3.0 IP, 5 K), lots of thanks to that good ol’ 75-pitch ceiling!
Wednesday, September 19th: RHP Tyler Chatwood vs. RHP Matt Cain
One sentence summary: Chatwood is of the rare breed that has a higher ERA on the road than at his Coors Field home (5.33/5.96), while Matt Cain is of the Giants breed that has a lower ERA at his AT&T yard than on the road (2.26/3.56). **Remember, defense can play a role in ERA!**
Thursday, September 20th: LHP Drew Pomeranz vs. LHP Barry Zito
One sentence summary: Through 3-0 counts, Pomeranz (in 22 tries), has one strikeout and a .479 wOBA against, while Barry Zito (in 39 tries) has no strikeouts and a .759 wOBA against (moral of the story: don’t fall behind, Barry).
From the hot to the cold
It’s been less than a week since the last time these two teams faced off, so you’re likely to remember the names of the Rockies players that step up to the plate. Chris Nelson (.601 wOBA L7, .345 wOBA overall) has been on the biggest tear of late, while part-timers Charlie Blackmon (.503, .292) and Matt McBride (.452, .216) have also made positive contributions in their limited PA of late. The powerful catcher Wilin Rosario (.421, .343) and OF Carlos Gonzalez (.390 wOBA L7, 4 SB L7; .381 wOBA overall, 20 SB overall) have also been making their mark on the ball. Josh Rutledge is still the guy on the weakest tear within the past week (.168 wOBA L7, .359 wOBA overall), but due to these sample sizes being so small, they really are in no way predictive of what’s to come.
The nation is pushing its love affair for Buster Posey to another level as he makes his MVP push, and he’s kept his foot on the gas of late in the midst of his second-half destruction of the opposition (.542 wOBA L7, 2 HR; .403 wOBA overall, 22 HR overall). Angel Pagan, though silent on the steals in the past week, has been getting his hits at the top of the order to set things up for the offense (.438 wOBA L7, .340 wOBA overall), and Marco Scutaro is right behind him (.414, .317). Hunter Pence looks to be getting going (.412 wOBA L7, 2 HR L7; .327 wOBA overall, 21 HR overall), and is making some hard contact on pitches, both fair and foul. The two guys that are struggling to contribute are the two boys that have the nickname “Panda” associated with them — Pablo, of the Kung Fu (.143 wOBA L7, .317 wOBA overall), and Hector, sometimes called “the Baby Panda” (.176, .270). I get the feeling Pablo’s body would welcome the off-season if it came today, but for now, he’s going to have to continue playing in his current condition.
Someone the other day said to me, “Imagine how good the Giants would be if their pitching was as dominant as it was a couple of years ago.” Weird that we’re saying that, isn’t it? In front of the home familiars, I’m expecting dominance.
Monday: Giants win
Tuesday: Giants win
Wednesday: Rockies win
Thursday: Giants win
When we wake up on Friday, I predict the Giants magic number to be at 4. Imagine if both the Giants and Nationals sweep.
The fourth through sixth games of the month (out of nine) of September between these two clubs brings the Giants to Chase Field for the last time of the regular season, and the black + orange hope they can do better than the last series, where they were outscored 22-17, and lost two out of three from the Snakes. The Diamondbacks will be either 3.5 or 4.5 back of the Wild Card leaders tomorrow depending on how the Cardinals and Dodgers fare tonight, and are currently 10 back of the Giants for the West. For the Giants, the Diamondbacks are that annoying team that never seems to stop bothering you, and will throw three lefties at the Giants this weekend. The DBacks lead the season series 7-5, and with six to go, it actually would not surprise me if the Giants did not win the season series with Arizona.
Friday, September 14th: RHP Matt Cain vs. LHP Tyler Skaggs
One sentence summary: Tyler Skaggs’ starts have gotten shorter as his debut season has progressed — 6.2 IP, 5.2, 5.0, 3.2; Matt Cain has gone at least 7.0 IP in 5 of his last 6 starts.
Saturday, September 15th: LHP Barry Zito vs. LHP Wade Miley
One sentence summary: Miley has allowed 11 baserunners in his past two games, giving both teams a chance to win, while Zito hopes to strike out the Snakes like he did last time (6), but with better results for the team.
Sunday, September 16th: RHP Ryan Vogelsong vs. LHP Patrick Corbin
One sentence summary: Corbin hasn’t allowed less than 3 ER in a game since a little over a month ago; while Vogelsong still struggles to find what made him a 2011 sensation after only going 8.1 IP in his last two starts combined.
The Bats are Hot… But That’s the Phoenix Heat’s Fault
I mean, have you ever been to Phoenix in the summer months? It’s death outside. I realize it’s September, but that’s still a summer month for Arizona, as are seven to nine other months there. For a team that’s been slithering closer to playoff contention, they don’t have any super-stand-out-crazy-hot batters doing the work for them. Sure, Miguel Montero has been hitting (.404 wOBA L7, .362 wOBA overall), Jason Kubel has been mashing a little bit (.395 wOBA L7, 2 HR L7; .358 wOBA overall, 29 HR overall), but it’s also a point that outside of John McDonald (.063 wOBA L7, -80 wRC+ L7; . 275 wOBA overall, 63 wRC+ overall), nobody is particularly cold over the past week. Kubel (29) and Hill (22) are still the only 2 DBacks with 20+ HR, but Goldschmidt (18), Montero (15), Johnson (14), Young (14), Upton (13) are all legitimate power sources. Chris Young hasn’t appeared in a game since September 7th, as he’s healing from a quad strain. The primary base-stealers on the club are Goldschmidt (16), Hill (14), Upton (15), and Parra (13).
By averaging 6 runs/game in the last six game, you’d figure there might be some guys doing work, and there are. One of those guys leading the charge might have a new nickname of “MVP” when the regular season ends: Buster Posey (.588 wOBA L7, 2 HR L7; .402 wOBA overall, 21 HR overall) has been fantastic in the second half for the Giants. Not to be ignored, Gregor Blanco (.450 wOBA L7, 2 SB L7; .312 wOBA overall, 22 SB overall), and Angel Pagan (.443 wOBA L7, 2 SB L7; .337 wOBA, 25 SB overall) have been working to set the table up for Giants rallies. Marco Scutaro has also been a more than decent contributor to the offense (.385 wOBA L7, .316 wOBA overall) of late. It’s not lost on anybody who is ice cold: that of the Panda, Kung Fu (.098 wOBA L7, -50 wRC+; .319 wOBA overall, 101 wRC+ overall), who may be hurting more than we comprehend at the moment, or could just be tired because he’s so…. exhausted after playing a lot of games in a baseball season (I already wrote an article on fat, I don’t need to go back to it here).
How wild will it get in Arizona this weekend? Can the Giants finally put Arizona away for now so that they can focus on clinching the West? Arizona is the one team in the West that worries me the most, especially as the Dodgers continue to be of the LOLs Angeles variety.
Friday: Giants win (Skaggs tires, Cain rises)
Saturday: Giants win (Zito throws a gem because I’m not watching this game due to being at a separate baseball event)
Sunday: DBacks win (It’s not that Vogelsong will stink it up, it’s that the DBacks will do just enough)
Hopefully the Giants can come home with a single-digit magic number, giving them a chance to do some celebrating at AT&T like they did in 2010, but without the last game dramatics.
Was I the only one that felt yesterday night was the last game of the season? There was so much energy put into this past weekend’s games that by the end of it, I was exhausted, and so I can’t even imagine how the guys in the dugouts were, although the Dodgers looked pretty defeated most of Sunday’s game. Speaking of defeated, the Rockies, after getting rained out on Saturday in Philadelphia, got swept in a doubleheader on Sunday, and then after playing two games that were both 3 hours and 12 minutes long, get to come back to the comfy confines of less oxygen and a dinosaur creepin’ around your yard. By no means is this a “gimme” series for the Giants, whose starters have to prove that they’re getting back to what has made them successful in previous outings. The Rockies are still using that good ol’ 75-pitch limit on their starters.
Monday, September 10th: RHP Ryan Vogelsong vs. RHP Alex White
One sentence summary: The popular stat from Bradley Ankrom of BP on Vogey – Ryan Vogelsong has the worst ERA (10.13) and best K/9 (13.08) in baseball since Aug. 13, but Alex White wasn’t able to strike out anybody in his last start of 4 innings against the Braves.
Tuesday, September 11th: LHP Madison Bumgarner vs. RHP Jhoulys Chacin
One sentence summary: Bumgarner sees a .303 wOBA against on the road, which is relatively good; Chacin has a .402 wOBA against at home, which is relatively not good.
Wednesday, September 12th: RHP Tim Lincecum vs. LHP Jeff Francis
One sentence summary: Both pitchers struck out 7 in their last start, but Timmy walked a career-high 7, while Francis only allowed 1 (Francis hasn’t allowed more than 2 in all but one start this year).
High Elevation Bats
The Rockies haven’t had a good past week, and they’re also 3-8 in their last 11 games, but their offense has really driven the point home that this is not a good team right now. Guys like Wilin Rosario (.160 wOBA L7, .337 wOBA overall), DJ LeMahieu (.177, .274), and the formerly hot Josh Rutledge (.193, .388) have been struggling bad, and that’s a third of your lineup right there. Luckily (?) a part-timer in Charlie Blackmon (.455, .237) in 12 PA has been useful of late, along with regular Dexter Fowler (.363, .386). Pretty hard to win when you have more “cold” regulars than even what would be considered the “warmer” ones. Colorado’s power sources include the well known Carlos Gonzalez (23 HR), and the aforementioned Wilin Rosario (22), and have some guys in the teens including Tyler Colvin (17) and Dexter Fowler (13). Michael Cuddyer (16) is currently out with a strained oblique, and Troy Tulowitzki could return Friday (after this series) from his groin injury.
Within the past week, some of yesterday’s heroes actually make up some of the less productive bats from that small sample size, including Angel Pagan (.244 wOBA L7, .335 wOBA overall), Hunter Pence (.264, .324), and Pablo Sandoval (.285, .327) — yes a walk can be heroic! If you’ve noticed that the facial hair has been contributing more often, then you clearly have seen Brandon Crawford do work in his platoon (.435, .278), Marco Scutaro is getting people thinking about having him around longer (.428, .313), and even in 11 PA Gregor Blanco is raising the fin again (.403, .310). Ignoring Hunter Pence’s numbers of 19 HR for the season, I’m still shocked the Giants have only one guy on the active roster with double digit HRs (Buster, 20). Panda and Pagan both have 8, Blanco and Belt both have 5. I thought for sure Panda would be in the teens by now (hasn’t homered since July 8th at PIT).
If there’s anything I have to say about this series it’s one thing: I hate that dinosaur.
Monday: Giants win (both teams score many runs, but Giants bullpen does less worse)
Tuesday: Giants win (Chacin will be throwing BP to pad Giants numbers)
Wednesday: Rockies win (Walks actually come back to haunt Lincecum this time, even if he doesn’t walk 7)
Wouldn’t put it past the Rockies to get swept, but even the bad baseball teams win 40% of the time.
Since August 14th, the Diamondbacks have had trouble reversing trends right away, as they’ve been winning/losing in consecutive games. The results: lose 2, win 4, lose 2, win 2 (more impressively it was a double-header), lose 6, win 2, lose 2. That’s an 8-12 stretch, so it’s understandable that they’ve lost ground against the Giants, who’ve gone 13-5 over that same set of dates. Interesting that on August 14th, we go back to the days of the Giants being tied for 1st place in the NL West with the Dodgers. Even though the Diamondbacks are 10.5 back, they still have 9 games left against the Giants, and while it’s extremely unlikely the DBacks make up 9 games, they can still play spoiler. The Giants return from a roadtrip that featured some NL Central cupcakes and now the San Francisco Orange & Black begin the final stretch of the season against only NL West opponents.
Monday, September 3rd: LHP Patrick Corbin vs. LHP Barry Zito
One sentence summary: The Giants’ fourth consecutive day game features Corbin, who’s given up 5 HR in his last 3 starts, and Zito, who had his shortest outing of the season against Houston, possibly playing through some upper back pain.
Tuesday, September 4th: RHP Ian Kennedy vs. RHP Ryan Vogelsong
One sentence summary: August wasn’t the friendliest of months to either of these two starters as Kennedy saw his second worst ERA month of the season (4.54), while Vogelsong had by far his worst month of the year (6.32), as both look to change things up with the coming of September.
Wednesday, September 5th: RHP Trevor Cahill vs. LHP Madison Bumgarner
One sentence summary: Cahill also had a heightened ERA in August (5.08) but wasn’t necessarily getting dominated like Vogelsong was; meanwhile, after Madison had his worst outing of the year since the first series of the year, he faces the team that gave him that first bad outing in the Diamondbacks.
And Now, the Bats
Hard to imagine that guys like Paul Goldscmidt ever go cold, but he’s not his normal self in the past week (.223 wOBA, .368 wOBA overall — best on the team), and said unhotness also applies to names like Justin Upton (.268 wOBA L7, .327 wOBA overall), Chris Young (.232, .321), and Jason Kubel (.263, .356), despite 3 HR between Upton and Kubel in the past week, including a couple bombs against the Dodgers. Mostly-utility-infielder John McDonald (.450, .297) has been the biggest contributor recently although in only 15 PA, with Miguel Montero being the biggest regular contributor of late (.321, .362). The Diamondbacks have a total of eight guys with double-digit dingerz on their squad, led by Jason Kubel (27), and Aaron Hill (20). Three guys have 13 SB on their squad led by Lincecum-killer Paul Goldschmidt, Justin Upton, and Gerardo Parra.
The Cubs series wasn’t the sweep many fans had hoped it would be, but some guys added on to what they’d be doing in Houston. Guys like Angel Pagan (.457 wOBA L7, .340 wOBA overall), and Hunter Pence (.405, .326). Gregor Blanco (.143, .308) may see his playing time reduced as Bochy rides the X-line straight to Veteranville, and Brandon Crawford (.162, .272) may be in the midst of regressing, but I imagine he starts taking the field back over Arias since Joaquin can’t keep his August pace up forever. On a team starved for the big flies, Buster is one HR away from 20 (as is Hunter), and we’re still waiting for round-trippers from Panda and Belt. Pagan (23) and Blanco (20) both have a high number of SB, and I’m sure it’ll be watched to see if either of these rabbits can rack up 30 for the year.
Get familiar with these boys, because you’re going to see a lot of them in September, and you just hope you’re playing them at the right streaky time.
Monday: Giants win (Giants ride homer — like an actual home run — to victory)
Tuesday: DBacks win (Ian Kennedy out-pitched Kershaw, will out-pitch Vogelsong)
Wednesday: Giants win (Madison takes his revenge out on Arizona)
Thursday is a day off before the Giants and Dodgers get going for their second to last series of the year, and the last one at AT&T.