The San Francisco Giants are finally playing better baseball. At least they were, until the last few days in Chicago. I was so hopeful for this week’s post. The last home stand was such a positive. After that it seemed like the Giants were building momentum with a series win in St. Louis. And then, the stupid Cubs and Wrigley Field ruined all those good vibes. So sick of those guys.
The Giants have played 49 games, roughly 3/10ths of the season, and currently own a 20-29 record. They sit at 4th place in the surprisingly competitive NL West, 11 games behind the first place Rockies. Last time I checked in, the Giants were a last place team but only 9 games back. So, I guess that’s progress? Right? I know, it really isn’t.
There was a lot more good over the past 17 games and it was much easier this time finding some positives from the 9-8 stretch.
Ty Blach- After getting hammered in Cincinnati, like the rest of the Giants, Blach has bounced back with 3 straight impressive starts. First, he got some personal pride back against the Reds back with 7 innings of 2 run ball. But the bats and bullpen did not back him up. He followed that up by pitching around all sorts of traffic to beat LA at home2-1, and delivered the only Giants victory at Wrigley this past week.
In each of his last 3 starts Blach has made it through 7 innings and in 5 of his 8 career starts, he has gone that deep in a game. He doesn’t have swing and miss stuff, he hasn’t struck out more than 4 batters in a game this season, but Blach induces a lot of weak contact. The 26-year old lefty is doing just fine as Madison Bumgarner’s stand-in.
Brandon Belt- Since being moved to 3rd in the batting order for the May 13 game against the Reds, Belt is batting .326 with 4 home runs and 14 hits. He’s settled nicely into the role and it has jump started his bat. This could be the hot Brandon belt that we know with a cold streak lurking right around the corner, or he could have found a new home in the lineup.
There was a time when Belt was taking walks in situations that screamed for a swing. To just put the ball in play. That’s not happening anymore. In 10 games batting 3rd, Belt has only walked 4 times. That’s low for him, and probably a result of having Buster Posey directly behind him in the lineup instead of Hunter Pence. Teams are daring Belt to beat them, and he’s doing exactly that.
Healthy Guys- When Brandon Crawford and Denard Span arrived back from the disabled list a couple of weeks ago the Giants instantly started playing better. As the shortstop, Crawford is the captain in the middle of that field, and the defense feeds off him. I mean, did you see that sliding catch in St Louis? Amazing. Span coming back swinging finally provided a spark at the top of the lineup the Giants have been looking for. That gave Bruce Bochy the freedom to lengthen the lineup to try and find some runs. With the new 10-day DL, guys can be out just a week and a half and come back recharged. I expect the Giants to use this to their advantage as the season gets long.
What’s Not So Good?
The kid- Christian Arroyo is struggling right now. He needs a day off. Since his huge double to help beat the Mets in the 9th inning on May 10, Arroyo is batting .132. He’s got 7 hits in 53 at bats with only 2 doubles and no home runs. He hasn’t been driving the ball as pitchers have figured out how to attack his swing. They are peppering the outside corner against Arroyo, and to his credit he is not striking out a ton. He’s only whiffed 12 times during this stretch, or about once a game.
The answer is probably not going to be sending him back down. Eduardo Nunez may have made that decision by tweaking his hamstring yesterday so the Giants will probably need to keep Arroyo. He has the poise to turn it around, now let’s the skill.
Bench- The Giants have no depth. The season started, I said on the podcast that I loved their depth. Well, they don’t have any. I was totally wrong. Well, except for Nick Hundley. Up until yesterday that dude was tied for the team lead in doubles. he’s been good. But the rest? Not so good. Michael Morse is supposed to be the power threat off the bench, he hasn’t homered since that first game back vs LA. I can’t remember the last time Gorkys did anything positive, and the outfield is a constant juggle.
There’s hope with Justin Ruggiano and Mac Williamson. The at-bat against Wade Davis the other night by Mac was a thing of beauty. He showed he can adjust during an at-bat and cover the entire plate. The HR was just the icing. If he can stay locked in like that and take over LF when Pence is healthy, the Giants may be able to build some depth. Ruggiano has already shown that he can handle the 4th outfielder role, and if he can play a little CF, Gorkys may not be around for long.
Not so healthy guys- Maybe this is a result of the 10-day DL I mentioned earlier, but just as much as the Giants get a spark when players return from the DL, they weaken when guys get hurt. Span came back and within 2 weeks needed time off to heal something else. Pence has been on the 10-day DL for 2 weeks now and will hopefully return soon. Johnny Cueto is apparently dealing with 2 blisters on his throwing hand, but he doesn’t want to go to the DL and I guess the Giants won’t make him.
The Giants are banged up everywhere. It’s hard to tell if it’s because some players are aging, or if it’s just bad timing. But this team has not been fully healthy all season and sometimes I wonder what that healthy team would look like.
The Giants start a 6-game home stand Friday. The Atlanta Braves are in for 3 this weekend followed by the Washington Nationals and old friend Dusty Baker for 3 starting Monday afternoon. If the Giants want to get back in this thing instead of slowly inching towards the .500 mark, they are going to need to keep winning series at home.
We should have an episode up next week but I can’t pin down which day for you with Memorial Day on Monday. Stay tuned and enjoy the holiday weekend everyone!