MLB

Giants’ early slide continues (and it’s not all the bullpen’s fault)

The Giants have lost eight leads this year, which you’d figure would indicate that the only thing keeping them from being 4-1 instead of 1-4 (which is where they find themselves after a 7-6 loss in San Diego this afternoon) is a good bullpen. It’s ripe, juicy fruit that hangs lower than the Giants in the NL West standings through five games, especially considering how craptastic the bullpen was last year.

  • Starters: 6.67 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 8 HR allowed, .296/.347/.574, 5 leads lost
  • Relievers: 6.97 ERA, 2.25 WHIP, 0 HR allowed, .288/.400/.390, 3 leads lost

Huh. All small-sample-size numbers to be sure, but it’s not like every starter has been Cain’d so far (and I mean Cain’d in a 2005-13 sense, of course).

Speaking of Matt Cain, the overall results of his 2017 debut shouldn’t come as much of a surprise since he relinquished the first of the Giants’ two leads in their latest loss when he served a gopherball to the first hitter he faced. But the Giants can’t have high expectations for Cain, or at least much higher than what he gave them today: 4.1 innings, 4 earned, 2 home runs allowed (both hit by Manuel Margot).

It’s difficult to blame anyone for wondering what expectations they can have for the bullpen as currently constructed, but that can change. George Kontos gave up the lead Brandon Belt supplied with his grand slam (the first of two homers for Belt), and it’s fair to wonder how much they can trust Kontos or any of the others to provide airtight lead-protection more often than not.

Since Madison Bumgarner went seven innings, the innings totals for the starters look like this: 5.0, 5.1, 5.1, 4.1. That’s unsustainable, but based on Johnny Cueto’s history, Matt Moore’s promise, and Jeff Samardzija’s stuff last night, things will only get better in that department. The Giants will probably go 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position and score two runs or fewer a few times when the non-Bumgarner starters throw gems, but we’ll save those complaints for when they occur.

Extra BASGs

— Faster in the twilight of his career: Conor Gillaspie this year or Aubrey Huff as a Giant?

— Jarrett Parker struck out once in three at-bats to drop his strikeout percentage to 60%.

— It’s entirely possible that the only strength of this team is the infield, but it’s (in unison!) Way Too Early To Tell.

— Best sign for the future (non-Belt division): Joe Panik looking every bit like an All-Star once again.

— Second best sign for the future (non-Belt division): Derek Law pitching the last inning and a third and looking good in the process, a few days after pitching a scoreless inning in Phoenix.

— Travis Jankowski is the Padres’ Joe Dirt.

— Belt is known for mashing in the Cactus and fizzling out in the early part of the season (his March/April OPS of .738 is the second-lowest for any month, well below his career mark of .819), but maybe that’s about to change. It’s not just the three home runs, either. Before he was called out on strikes in the first inning, he came close to knocking in Panik with a shot down the line that was just foul. Obviously people have been saying “this is gonna be Belt’s breakout season” for years, but a lot of players hit their peak around this age (Belt turns 29 on 4/20).

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The ghost of Don Zimmerman
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The ghost of Don Zimmerman

If Belt were to have the exact same season he had in 2016 he’d be one of the best 1b in the game again. The obp and plus glove is for real. We really need Pence and Span to have good seasons. If they struggle with health and performance like last season the outfield will be one of the worst in baseball.

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