Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Crawling From the Wreckage

The revolving door that is the Giants' 2017 bullpen continues to spin. Out goes Chris Stratton, he of the 27.00 ERA, and in comes Josh Osich, he of the 7.71 ERA. At Triple-A, that is. A 7.71 ERA at Sacramento, even allowing that the PCL is a hitters' league-- just how valuable is that "MLB experience" when you can't get anyone out?  While a decent ERA can sometimes mask a lousy relief pitcher-- hello there, Cory Gearrin-- a lousy ERA rarely lies.

Overall the Giants' bullpen has a 1.4 WHIP. They've walked 33 men in 76 innings. Gearrin has walked 10 men in 10 innings!  Hunter Strickland (10 IP, 11K, 1.0 WHIP) and Steven Okert (7 IP, 0.86 WHIP)  are doing their jobs. Derek Law may be coming around after an awful start.  Mark "Big-Bucks" Melancon has blown 2 saves in 7 chances, which puts him in Santiago Casilla territory if it goes on all year. It probably won't, and he's not going anywhere anyway. That's 4 guys worth keeping. The rest--- ?

After last night's full meltdown, Matt Moore in six starts has two great ones, two lousy ones, and two train wrecks. Jeff Samardzija, who starts tonight's series finale at LA, has actually pitched a little better than that. In two of his losses his issue was a couple of early runs allowed, followed by good pitching but zero support.  He will always give up more than his share of home runs, but that by itself isn't reason to dump him. (Walking guys ahead of those home runs would be.) And Johnny Cueto's had only one truly bad start so far. With Ty Blach and Matt Cain holding down their ends, the rotation is just a tad more encouraging than the bullpen, even with Madison Bumgarner on the shelf.

What is Gorkys Hernandez doing leading off? Or, more to the point, what is Gorkys Hernandez doing in the major leagues? Doesn't the Mendoza Line exist anymore?

We understand Bruce Bochy batting Joe Panik 7th instead of leadoff against a lefty-- sort of. But when you're 10-17, why are you playing lefty-righty percentages instead of simply putting your best players where they can make the most impact?  At the least, lead off Hunter Pence against left-handers, and if you must play Hernandez, bat him 8th. Maybe he can outrun a 30-foot dribbler and keep the pitcher from leading off the next inning.

The Giants allowed nine walks (!) yesterday and walked only once themselves. Nick Hundley drew the lonely base on balls-- his first of the season, in 55 AB's. It is to weep.  

Eduardo Nunez' average is settling toward the .250 mark. He can't steal bases if he ain't on base. With Brandon Crawford out, why not try Conor Gillaspie at third and Christian Arroyo at short?

Crawford, Buster Posey, Panik, Arroyo, Pence, and Brandon Belt are the obvious keepers at six starting positions. But that only highlights the total lack of production from left field and center field. We fear Bochy is counting on Denard Span "turning it all around" when he returns from the DL. That's an awfully chancy horse to bet your paycheck on.  Meanwhile, Austin Slater, 24, is hitting .291 at Sacramento. Like almost all the Giants' prospects, including Arroyo, he's shown little power, but he bats-right-handed, has good speed, and given our concentration of young talent at other positions, he looks awfully attractive at the moment. We know Belt can't stay in left because he anchors our solid infield defense (the one constant in this circus). Mike Morse, even if he was hitting (and he probably would if playing regularly) evidently can't start in left every day. Could Kelby Tomlinson, even out of position, really do any worse?

On the 40-man roster, we see two guys at Richmond putting up numbers. Reyes Moronta, 24, is a right-handed relief pitcher who has struck out 15 men in 8 innings of relief, walking only two and picking up 4 saves in 8 games. He's chunky, like a smaller Johnny Cueto-- 6' and a lot more than the listed 175-- and maybe those numbers won't last, but when you have big-league relievers who walk ten men in ten innings, a young fellow like this looks awfully attractive.  Moronta has a teammate, Miguel Gomez, also 24, who is listed as a third baseman and has never hit below .300 at any level of pro ball. He's a switch hitter who makes contact (only 12 K's in 81 AB) and, like most guys off the island, he won't take a walk. Maybe he can't hit major-league pitching, but when you have leadoff hitters who are batting .155,  a young fellow like this looks awfully attractive. And, for that matter, where in the world is Mac Williamson, now that he's off the DL?

When you're 10-18, there is no such thing as a viable status quo. We figure the Giants have about two weeks to pull out of this nosedive and save the season. That'll be the topic next time.

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