Welcome to Czar’s Blog #4 of 2018

The picture is clearing up – kind of

After a miserable 2-and-7 road trip against the Astros, Cubs and Rockies, the G-Men are 26 and 30, tied with the Dodgers for 3rd place in the NL West, 4 games back of the Rockies. The entire division is basically even (there are 6 games between 1st place Colorado and last place San Diego).  No one has pulled away from the pack and put a stamp on the division. 

Will the Injury list returns make a difference, and can the G-Men make a run for the division?

It feels like waiting for Godot for the injury list to be reduced.  Ten players are on the DL. Bum is (supposedly) back next Tuesday, Panik is back tonight and rumor has it that Pence is also coming back this weekend. Alen Hanson (who looked good in a short stint with the big club) is also due back (maybe tonight, maybe this weekend). Cueto is on a mid-June return schedule and Samarzija is due back on June 9th (next road series).

The Giants aren’t the only team with significant DL issues.  The Dodgers are also suffering and it looks like Kershaw hurt himself again. The season could come down to who gets healthy first.

Positions get interesting when Pence returns.  My vote is to move McCutchen to Center on a rotation with Gorkys (playing out of his mind), put Pence in right and Williamson in left.  That makes Jackson the odd man out.  Look for Jackson to tweak a hamstring muscle this weekend.  Just saying.

The Offense – Continuing to Improve

Right now the hottest players in baseball are the Brandon’s. Belt is leading the team in average, dingers, runs scored and RBI’s, and Crawford just had a May for the ages. He was perhaps the best player in baseball last month.  He’s also (along with Belt) batting over .300. McCutchen and Longoria are both producing in the clutch, setting an example; and, Buster is being Buster with an average hovering around .300.

The offense is showing that it’s capable, which is what we want to see at this time of year, and is a lot different than last year at this time.

The Pitching – we need starters, badly

 This is where the managers and the front office must justify their salaries.  There is a constant shuttle of pitchers going back and forth from Sacramento to the big club because it seems like when one starter (I’m talking about you Stratton) pitches well, he stinks up the place on the next outing. We will see Beede up again this weekend.  Until Bum comes back (which should stabilize the rotation – at least in attitude) we will have the same problem.  Two, three or four good innings and then into the bullpen.

A curiosity question is whether Dereck Rodriguez (Pudge’s son, who came up in the Colorado series) will stick with the big club.  He looked good on the mound and at the plate during the two innings he played this week in CO.  It’s nice to get your first hit (a double no less, not a cheapie) in your first MLB at-bat, then to see your HOF Dad cry on National TV; but, not so nice to then to take a 109 mph hit off your leg and leave the game.  Dereck, welcome to the show.

The short relievers, Tony Watson, Dyson and Strickland are all looking good but it’s hard to tell about the rest of the bullpen what with the constant shuttling of new arms back and forth from Sacramento.  I think that we will see more from young Dereck.

A last note on pitching: The Rangers have Sergio Romo opening games on an entirely new theory of pitching (you thought that nothing in baseball was new, think again!). 

The theory is that if you put a reliever in at the beginning of the game the top of the opposing order doesn’t see the starter until the second time through the line-up, which extends the innings that the starter can pitch.  The stats show that most young pitchers get rocked when the hitters adjust to them on the third time through the order (which is why going beyond 5 innings is difficult).  This also permits using a reliever when the top of the order is weighted towards right or left-handed batters.  Sergio is death on right handed batters but gets rocked from the left side.  Yes, this is a stat thing but I expect that we may see it more often, especially among teams with long bullpens and weak starters.  If we see it from the Giants that will be a message about what the brain trust thinks about the starting pitching.

This short series – the Phillies and the Snakes

The young Phillies (31 and 23, and a game back in the NL East) just swept us in Philadelphia.  It’s payback time.  The snakes are in 2nd place in the NL West and may be fading.  We will see.  It’s still an even year. 😊

That’s it!

Ciao, and GO GIANTS!

The Czar

 

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