It’s been five weeks of baseball and the San Francisco Giants are 11-21. They have the worst record in the National League. That’s a great line to grab you, huh? Makes you want to read more about the mess that has been the 2017 season, doesn’t it? Well, I hope so. Even when the team stinks, and they stink right now, there are positives. I’ll try to tackle a couple of those here before getting to the bad news because, as we all know by now, there’s a lot of bad news.
The schedule is now 1/5th of the way complete. The Giants are 9 games out of 1st place. That’s almost 2 games a week! Oh man. They have won back-to-back games just once and have only 2 series wins. We’ll be back with a new podcast episode this week to talk about the Giants getting hammered in Cincinnati, and the week ahead. Please, let’s find some good news.
Christian Arroyo- This is where I should be typing that the “fresh face and new blood of a young talented player” has sparked the Giants and they’ve gone on a roll. Well, Arroyo’s doing his part. He’s started 13 games for the big club and hit safely in 10 of them. He got his first hit off Kershaw, first homer off Romo, and has shown maturity beyond his years. Saturday night, Arroyo fouled a ball off his foot and had to leave the game. Sunday afternoon he was in the lineup once again. Knowing he has to play because the team is short-handed shows leadership. And he can play. His 3 home runs are already second on the Giants behind Belt’s 4. There’s going to be plenty more to come with young Arroyo, let’s hope the team can start playing to his level.
Hunter Strickland- This could be a lot of the guys in the pen, but Hunter has stuck out as someone doing a great job in 2017. He’s allowed 1 run in 10.1 innings of work over 13 appearances. Strickland isn’t entering games the Giants are ahead either. He’s the guy who’s been called in to keep it close when the Giants are tied or down a run. Over half of his appearances have been in those situations. Even though Strickland gave up his first run the other night, he struck out the side. He’s done that in back-to-back outings and looks sharp. Strickland’s slider has been nasty with tight break and he’s still bringing the heat at 97. Maybe he finally figured out how to keep the ball in the yard.
Road Trips- So, this is a bit of a stretch, but there’s not many positives to look at for the Giants. The current road trip (LA,CIN,NY) is the only 3-city trip all season. The schedule is favorable after June when it comes to travel and the Giants catch some breaks with days off for long flights. It’s not much, but I needed a third thing because I would have felt weird stopping after two.
What’s Not So Good?
Starting Pitching- Where do I begin? How about this fun stat, the Giants are just the 4th team in the last 60 years to have starting pitchers allow 9+ runs each in three games over a four game span. Through 32 games, Giants starters have given up 104 earned runs in 189.1 innings. That’s a hefty 4.94 ERA, worst in the NL. Collectively, the starters have surrendered 28 home runs in 32 games. I know, we see a gem here and there, but Giants starters have been allowing base runners like crazy, and those guys are coming around to score. There’s no magic fix here, the starting pitchers as a whole have to perform better. Madison Bumgarner’s injury is not an excuse.
OF Depth- Another crazy part of this 2017 Giants team. Eight different guys have made an appearance in LF this season, seven of them started a game there. Parker went down, then Marrero didn’t work out (shocking), and it has created a hole exactly where there already was one coming into the season. With Span going down the OF gets shuffled and that’s how you have Gorkys Hernandez and his .197 BA playing every day. I thought he could be the glue guy, the new Gregor Blanco. It’s not working out that way. Now Justin Ruggiano joins the LF rotation after Drew Stubbs couldn’t hit the ball. Brandon Belt has 7 starts already in left field and Eduardo Nunez has 4. That is not a winning strategy and makes the team weaker on defense all around. Somehow this LF thing needs to be figured out so Nunez and Belt can go back to the infield where they belong. Also, get better Denard Span, the Giants need you?
Coaching- There’s been some talk about Phil Nevin holding players at 3rd base. It’s tough to judge, but I agree with the thought that he’s been too passive. When the team isn’t hitting, force the other team to make a play whenever you can. Apply pressure as much as possible. I know injuries play a part, but Bruce Bochy has had 28 different starting lineups through 32 games. No single lineup has been used more than 3 times. Some stability would be nice. None of the leadoff batters have been getting it done, it’s time for Joe Panik to take that role. Brandon Belt seems more inclined to take a walk than drive runners in. It’s maddening to watch sometimes as a fan, because we have no faith in the guy behind him. Whoever that may be. For some reason Bochy is inclined to keep Belt in the 2 hole as long as he draws walks. If that’s how he feels, why not just bat Belt leadoff? Combine the lineup with how Bochy has sometimes used the pen, and there are questions everywhere. Hopefully the future Hall of Famer can right the ship.
The Giants are in New York starting Monday night for the last 3 games of this road trip. Then it’s the Reds once again, (WHY?!?!?) for 4 at AT&T, and then 3 with LA to finish that homestand. Later this month the Giants take a swing through the Midwest so you can bet I’ll have some thoughts when they travel to Chicago.
Chad was on an episode of a Mets podcast called “Mets Musings” ahead of this series, go listen to how bad the Mets are too! Here’s the link.