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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Pitching, untimely hitting has Giants in rut

Entering play about 10 days ago on June 9th, the Giants had the best record in baseball and sat nearly 20 games above .500. However, a 1-8 run since that date has dropped them back down to earth and has shrunk their lead on the 2nd place Dodgers to just 4 games.

A big reason for the Giants rut has been because of some unstable pitching, from the top of the rotation through the back end of the bullpen. Tim Hudson had his worst outing as a Giant this week in Chicago vs. the White Sox, giving up 7 runs on 12 hits in just 4 1/3 innings. Matt Cain followed up Hudson's outing with his worst outing of the 2014 season as well, giving up 8 runs om 10 hits in 5 innings. All those short outings have caused the bullpen to be called upon quite frequently, and while they've done an admirable job, the workload may be takings it's toll on the most important arm in that pen. The starting pitching has shown it'll have some downs here and there, but for the most part, they're going to do their job and provide quality outings. I'm not too worried there. As we inch toward the halfway point in the season however, the Giants' energetic closer sits at a pedestrian 3-3 with a 5.04 ERA and 20/24 in save opportunities. While the save ratio isn't terrible, he was nails up until about the last month, when he's seen his ERA balloon from 2.21 up to where it stands now. As of now, Sergio Romo's job is not in any kind of jeopardy, but one has to think that if his ERA hovers around 5 and his ineffectiveness continues through the All-Star break, talk of change will certainly surface.

I've always liked the idea of being able to use Romo freely anyway, and not tying him down to the ninth inning only. As we all know, the saves don't necessarily always take place in the 9th inning, and Romo was as good as any in those situations. Not that I'm abandoning hope of him rebounding though. In fact, if I were to bet, I'd expect him to bounce back and I doubt anyone else but #54 will be getting consistent save opportunities anytime soon in San Francisco. It is worth keeping an eye on nevertheless.

Elsewhere with the squad, the Giants have gotten some good news in regards to Brandon Belt's rehabilitation, as the first basemen is on track to rejoin the team sometime in the next two weeks. I've been hearing the end of June as a target date, but My guess would be sometime in that first week of July. Either way, it'll be great to get the big first basemen back, as it will significantly deepen this lineup and allow Bochy to start using a more consistent day-in and day-out lineup like he prefers to do. While Belt is on the mend, the Giants leadoff hitter and center fielder, Angel Pagan, had to leave the team earlier this week to get has back looked. Pagan's ailment is being labeled as "lower back stiffness" but the fact that he had to leave the team to get a second opinion does raise some red flags. Already without their steady #2 hitter Marco Scutaro for what could be the entire season, they absolutely cannot afford to lose their leadoff guy for any long period of time, so expect the Giants to be cautious with Pagan. We've seen the Giants do a good job in being able to fill Brandon Belt's shoes while he's been down, but Pagan is almost like Posey in a way that nobody comes close to doing what he does as well as he does. That's how important Pagan is to this lineup and hopefully we see him back out there this weekend without missing a beat.

Giants All-Star Watch: I'm about to fill out my All-Star ballot, and although I'm a die-hard Giants fan, I don't sit there and punch in all Giants to start the game. This game means something now, and it should be treated as such. There really is no Giant that is worthy of starting this years game, not even Buster Posey, but there are a handful of guys deserving to represent the NL at Target Field next month. Although plenty can change in the 4 weeks before the game, as of now, I'd say their are four players that should make the cut with one on the fence. Madison Bumgarner, Hunter Pence, Tim Hudson and Jean Machi all should be virtual locks with the way they've played and the impact they've had on the Giants great start. I'd put Michael Morse right their on the fence as he's put up big numbers and seems to always put them up when they really count.

2nd Base Watch: Despite Brandon Hicks' abysmal slump and Ehire Adrianza's in-ability to get anything going with the bat, the Giants don't have any immediate plans to bring up either of their two most logical in-house replacements, Adam Duval or Joe Panik. The 25 year-old Duval has a better chance since he's on the 40-man and can also play some first base. Plus he's having a monstrous season in Fresno, leading the PCL with 22 jacks, a .293 average, 64 RBI and a .983 OPS. Panik, a first round selection in 2011, is finally playing up to his capabilities in Fresno and the Giants aren't likely to disrupt the 23 year-old at the moment (.313/5/43/.811).
The Giants Baseball Blog

Saturday, June 07, 2014

A look at Giants' top pick Tyler Beede

One of the bright spots coming out of an otherwise dreary 2013 season was the fact, thanks to the 10-game below .500 finish, the Giants ended up with a decent slot in this year's amateur draft.

With the 14th overall selection in the first round, the Giants nabbed one of the top collegiate arms in the draft in University of Vanderbilt ace Tyer Beede. The Junior right-hander was the 12th ranked prospect in this years draft, according to Baseball America, and was selected in the first round once before in 2011. Needless to say, the hype is there and the expectations will be big. He's got the size, at 6'4" and 215 pounds, the power arm (fastball averages 93-94 and tops out at 97) and already has some pretty nice secondary stuff as well. Coming into this season, he was projected to go as high as the top-5, but a slow start knocked him down about 10 spots, making him a great value pick for the Giants at 14 after some feel they "reached" on shortstop Christian Arroyo last year. He exactly why the Giants were so high on him in his last start before the draft on May 31st vs. Xavier, striking out 14 batters and allowing just 4 hits over 8 shutout innings. The reason why he was so hyped coming into the year was because he was coming off a 14-1, 2.37 ERA, 103 K line (over 17 starts and 101 innings) in sophomore season. His Junior year, while solid, wasn't nearly as dominant, as he's gone 8-7 with a 3.20 ERA.

He has cut down on his free passes, which is really the only glaring weakness in his game at the moment. He's allowed 138 BB in 271 collegiate innings. When he gets in trouble, it's usually a command issue, as opposing hitters are hitting for a ridiculously low average off him, but his WHIP doesn't quite reflect that just because of all the walks he allows. Needless to say, this guy's pure upside, coupled with his past dominance screams great pick. Plus, you mix that with the fact that the Giants have had great success with first round pitchers this last decade really should have fans feeling pretty good about this selection. Here's a video of the kid throwing an inning, as you can really get a good idea of his smooth, compact delivery and his electric arm.

Overall, I like the pick a lot. The MLB draft is a value based draft and I feel like the Giants got great value and a kid that has a more than legit shot at making the big leagues and being a factor at that next level. It wouldn't surprise me if this kid is ranked as the Giants top prospect for 2015 if he signs quickly and can get some professional time under his belt this summer.
The Giants Baseball Blog