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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Giants In Need of a Strong September

Although they've really looked pretty bad here over the last couple of weeks, the Giants enter September with a more than legit shot at ending their 7 year playoff drought.

The one consistent the Giants had been able to keep up, even when they were struggling, was that they've been able to beat the teams they should beat, but that wasn't the case in their most recent series vs. the D-Backs. The Giants really should have been swept by Arizona, but fortunately for them, their offense showed up in Sunday's finale and bailed out another rough series for the pitching staff. Now they have a shot to get back on the right track and start off September in stronger fashion than they finished August in if they can take care of Colorado on Wednesday and take the 3-game set. More importantly though, the Giants need Tim Lincecum, who's struggles have yet to cease, to get back on track, and this would be a great game for him to do that in. It's not going to be an easy task though, as Lincecum will go against the Rockies ace, and potential Cy Young candidate Ubaldo Jimenez. Lincecum has been a below average pitcher since the all-star break, carrying a 5.17 era, a 1.52 WHIP and a 2-5 record in 9 games since the 3-day hiatus. Again, I'm not at all in panic mode, and I fully expect Lincecum to work his way out of this. I just think the kid's had a tremendous workload over the last 2 1/2 seasons and the Giants may want to monitor his pitch count a lot closer over this last month. The Giants really need Lincecum to get back on track if they're going to make a serious run at a postseason birth, so it's really tough at this point to hold him back in any of his starts. I just wouldn't ask him to throw more than 100 pitches per game right now, and I'd give him the extra day of rest whenever possible.

Luckily, while the pitching staff has sputtered, some of the offensive players have started to pick up some of the slack. Freddy Sanchez in particular has been on fire over the last 10 days, hitting right around .500 with a homer, 6 RBI and 8 runs scored over that span. He's raised his average back up to .290 and has found himself back in the 2-hole because of it. The Giants offense clicks best with Sanchez in the 2-spot, and I like how it allows Posey to move back down in the lineup to a more suitable position for him. When they're on, Andres Torres and Freddy Sanchez provide one of the better 1-2 combo's in the NL, and we're just now seeing both of them hit their stride together. Sanchez hasn't been the only guy who's picked up the slack recently though either. Pablo Sandoval has really spun his season around in August. Half of his 12 home runs and 16 of his 52 RBI came in August, and he backed those numbers up with a solid .312 average and .907 OPS. That is much more "Panda" like, and I really think he's in line for a big finish, which of course would be another shot in the arm for the Giants offense. For the first time in a long, long time, the Giants have two guys in their early-mid 20's who they drafted/developed that should anchor the middle of their order for years to come in Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval. It's like Matt Williams and Will Clark all over again. I really can't wait to see them both clicking together and eventually hitting back-to-back in the batting order.

September Call-Ups: Since we are officially in September now, teams can expand their rosters and carry up to 40 players. With the Giants being in a pennant race, I don't think they are going to be looking at giving a lot of younger players much of a look, but there are still some intriguing names to keep an eye on over this next month. I don't think we'll see guys like Thomas Neal or Brandon Belt but a few other guys to watch for are former Marlins' ace Dontrelle Willis (in Fresno right now), infielder Jesus Guzman (to provide right-handed pop off the bench), infielder Emmanuel Burris (late inning defense replacement at short) and right-hander Henry Sosa (promising arm that can start or relieve).
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5 Comments:

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    The Giants are making me really nervous now. I need to take tums when I watch the games... It's the first time in a while we actually have a chance at a playoff spot though. It's great!

     
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