Welcome to the 6th Czar’s blog of 2016. The G-Men are in town for a short series against the Cubs (the best team in the NL right now) this weekend, and against the Padres (the NL West) next week.
The Report Card
The G-Men come into the weekend series against the best Cubs team since 1908 2.5 games ahead of NL West with a 7 game winning streak. That’s the good news. The better news is that the pitching is starting to shape up. Cain’s last two starts have been 7 and 8 innings and he looks like the Matt Cain of old (including with the lack of run support).
Peavy may be a little bit behind but he too is looking better. It seems that when he takes the intensity down a notch he is a better pitcher (that, by the way, was a Bochy observation that hopefully sent a message to Jake)
The Cubs will be the real test of how much progress the Giants have made since the disastrous period early this month when the G-Men couldn’t hit a lick with men on base, hit into a record breaking number of double plays and seemed snake-bitten.
Speaking of snake-bitten, taking four straight in Arizona over the weekend was sweet revenge for the Snakes sweep at AT&T at the end of April.
Regardless, this is a team that looks primed and ready for the summer campaign. There is one more game today against the Padres before the Cubs series starts on Friday.
The hitters are dangerous. Pence especially. Belt, Crawford and Posey are strong. Panik and Duffy are in minor slumps but still getting on base. Span is starting to look like a solid hitter (with a good glove) and having Pagan back in left field makes a big difference.
The pitchers are looking really good. It’s hard to tell how good the bullpen is (even with the Casilla meltdown last week after Bochy pulled him against Arizona because Lamb owns Casilla) because the starters are going so deep into the games. Last night’s complete game from Cueto is just the most recent example of a great start. Bum is the best pitcher in baseball this side of Kershaw and Cueto and Samardjiza are not far behind. Romo is still on the DL but may be close to coming back. With the bullpen fresh and the starters going deep there is no reason to rush him.
The G-Men are doing a good job of beating up on the NL West while playing even against the teams from the other divisions. This is a really good time to be watching the Giants. Nothing illustrates the up and down rhythms of a season quite so much as the last three weeks.
If the Giants are able to take the Cubs series they will establish themselves as not just a legitimate playoff caliber team but the team to beat in the NL.
A side note on Tim Lincecum going to the Angels. Good for Timmy. May he thrive and prosper. The strong outings by Cain and Peavy over the last 10 days made picking him up less likely but it’s a long year and there will be many twists and turns in the road, which is why we love baseball.
Grade: B+/A- We will try this exercise against next week. What do you think out there?
Ciao, and GO GIANTS!