When I was scrolling down the Giants roster today to see where each player stood heading into play Sunday, I couldn't help but notice Brandon Belt's .295 average. By looking at that number, you'd think he'd be putting up some numbers, but as of May 6th, he's yet to go deep in a game and has just 5 RBI and 5 extra-base hits on the season.
|Belt's April: .295, 0 HR, 5 RBI|
In fact, 2 of those 5 doubles were defensive misplays, which if you take away, drastically lowers his OPS and slugging percentage. The one bright spot is that he is carrying a very respectable .379 OBP, but the Giants aren't counting on Belt to be a table setter and get on base, they're counting on him to be the one to clear the bases and knock guys in. He's been hitting in the 5th or 6th spot in the lineup every time he plays, so it's hard to imagine that he hasn't come up with 5 RBI yet. Even 8th place, .208 hitting Brandon Crawford has knocked one out and has 8 RBI. I know Belt has had to share some PT, and Crawford has pretty much had SS all to himself, but regardless, both the Giants and Belt would tell you they need more run production out of his bat, especially if this offense intends on surviving with Pablo Sandoval for the next 6 weeks. Aubrey Huff has cleared some of his issues up, and should be ready to come off the DL when eligible next week, but the Giants really need Belt to assert himself. Heck, even leadoff hitter Angel Pagan, who had all of 7 HR in over 400 at-bats last year has knocked out 4 while Belt still sits with a zero in that column. He's hitting more like a 2-hitter than a 4-5 hitter the Giants need him to be the guy he was in his minor league career and Huff will be back soon. If Belt doesn't start hitting with more authority and driving in runs when he gets the chance to, then his PT will significantly decrease once Huff comes off the DL.
Luckily, for the Giants, who have a struggling ace and a beat up offense, they have the impressive lefty Madison Bumgarner, who stopped some of the bleeding Saturday night, winning his 5th straight and dropping his ERA to 2.22. Matt Cain goes today in the rubber match vs. the Brewers, and hopefully the Giants can give him some early support this time around, as they've had trouble scoring early in ballgames lately. In fact, they didn't score in Saturday's game until Bumgarner drove in a run himself in the fifth inning, then the Giants offense came alive a bit in the 6th to take command of the game, but they have to put more
|5-1, 2.22 ERA, 1.09 WHIP
pressure on opposing pitchers earlier in the game. Bochy knows this and it's part of the reason why he's been experimenting with different lineups since Pablo went down. We've seen Pagan moved into the fifth spot, then back to leadoff, with Gregor Blanco getting looks at the top of the lineup as well. Pagan's surprising run production early on has him producing more like a middle of the order hitter, and if the Giants could find a suitable leadoff man, I think Boch would prefer to have Pagan hitting in the middle of the order while Sandoval's shelved. A Cabrera-Posey-Pagan, 3-4-5 isn't the most imposing, but provides a lot of speed and three guys all swinging a solid bat at the moment. Again though, these guys were performing well even before Sandoval went down, so it's got to be another bat that steps up and again, it brings me back to Brandon Belt. I said a few posts back that he's the one guy in this lineup with the rare ability to put up a power-streak and go off for 4-5 HR's in a week, which is why the Giants keep trotting him out there. If he can get hot and the Giants can maybe get something out of Huff in Sandoval's absence, this lineup should be just fine, but if Belt continues to hit for no power, and Huff returns in the same shape he left, this team is going to have a long month ahead of them, I don't care how good the pitching is.
Mota Suspended 100 Games:
Well, the Giants have had trouble keeping players healthy, and sane through the season's first month, but on Monday, they lost their first player to drug-related punishment, as reliever Guillermo Mota was suspended for 100 games for his 2nd infraction for testing positive for PED's. I know losing Mota isn't like losing Wilson, but that's just another large blow to this bullpen, and may in turn speed up Heath Hembree's ascendance to San Francisco. Mota had kind of took over Casilla's role with Casilla the new closer, but now with Mota out, the Giants are really lacking proven right-handed relievers. I like Mota, and I hate to see him go, but this could be a blessing in disguise for the Giants if it leads to them going younger in the bullpen and that formula working. Hembree has been lights out in Fresno as the Grizzlies closer and could be eased into the bigs as a mid-reliever like Mota and Casilla were, then depending on his success, and how Casilla continues to fare as closer, Hembree could take over closing duties. It's becoming quite clear, with the amount of players this team is losing that they're going to need some guys from the minors to step up and pick up some of the slack if they intend on being competitive.