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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Johnny Cueto.. The Savior!

After a red hot first week-plus to start out April, the Giants hit about a 2-week rough stretch, but it looks like they're finally breaking out of it. Oh yeah, that Johnny Cueto guy looks like he's going to be pretty good too!


San Francisco has won four of their last five ballgames to get back to the .500 mark at 11-11, and they did it behind the best pitching performance we've seen to start the 2016 season, hands down! Johnny Cueto dazzled the San Diego Padres Tuesday night at AT&T Park, and while the Pads don't exactly supply the most imposing offensive lineup, it was impressive nonetheless. The Giants' 30 year-old prized off-season signing threw the team's first complete game of 2016, allowing 7 hits and a walk while using 11 K's to help get him out of any trouble he ran into, which wasn't much at all. This was the exactly what the Giants had in mind when they gave Cueto that big deal in December, and this is exactly why I was all for his 2-year opt-out. This guy looks motivated and focused here in the early season. Look no further than his 4-1, 2.65 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 33 K's to just 5 walks in 37 innings of work thus far as a testament to that. Some players hit that comfort zone after they get a really large deal like Cueto's as they know they're set for the next 5+ years, but Johnny knows that two big seasons in San Francisco could land him a Zach Grienke-type deal.

So yes, a lot of people worried about that two-year opt-out but not I and it's being shown why early on here. Dude looks focused! It was a good thing Cueto had his A-stuff on this night too because the Giants just couldn't get anything going against Padres ace James Shields. The tall right-hander held the Giants to just 3 hits in his 7 innings of work, but luckily one of those hits was a double off the bat of Denard Span with a runner on to provide the only run of the game and Johnny made it stand. The hitting, after that slow start and then horrible couple weeks in mid-April, looks like it's slowly but surely coming around (sans Tuesday obviously), as we all knew it would. As the weather heats up, so do the bats usually and I really expect this team to start clicking at the plate sooner than later on a consistent level.

MadBum, Cueto, Samardzija have all been just about as advertised and Jake Peavy's coming off his best start of the year, so right now, that staff really just needs to get Matt Cain going and then they'll start clicking on all cylinders as well. With the shuffling going on in the bullpen right now, the starters are going to be pushed a little harder to try and get into that 7th inning and so far, Matt Cain is the only one yet to do so. Cainer had that solid outing to start the year in LA, but has had three rough outings since and the theme for him seems to be struggling in the middle innings, which tells me it may be time to explore using him in relief where he can go hard for an inning or two.

I wouldn't expect to see any drastic changes like that anytime soon though and Cain is the fifth man after all so the Giants don't need him to be great, but he's hardly appeared Major League-caliber over his last three starts. Problem is, the closest guy the Giants have in-house to taking that fifth spot should Cain need a replacement is Clayton Blackburn and a lot of scouts don't see his stuff transpiring as well at the Major League Level and they certainly aren't making a trade of any kind this early.... Anyway, as I said in my last post, I have complete faith the offense is going to be just fine and we're already seeing signs of it. I'm not as sure about their 4th and 5th starters although Peavy has shown a little more ability than Cainer, especially when you take the second half of last year into account as well.
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The Giants Baseball Blog
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