It seems like every time there’s an off day for the San Francisco Giants, when they come back to the park there’s some sort of horrible injury news no one saw coming. That’s relatively speaking for this team, however, since at this rate every member of the team should be looking up in the sky for falling anvils, 24/7. The latest one who looks likely to join almost a dozen teammates on the disabled list: Nate Schierholtz, who came to the park wearing a boot today.
It’s almost to the point now where Bruce Bochy has to think about managing differently. Station to station, every time. Tell your hitters not to swing if there’s a chance the pitch could be fouled off one’s foot, ankle or shin. That’s why Schierholtz is out, according to reports, and why either he or Jonathan Sanchez might be headed to the disabled list. Sure, Carlos Beltran was activated and that’s supposed to be good news, but he still can’t play either.
So much for #JailAaronRowand. Now fans have no choice but to cheer him by default, since besides Rowand’s the only Giants position player to stay off the DL in 2011 besides Aubrey Huff.
Since hashtags have been a topic here lately, it’s fun that the Giants are back in action against the NL West’s best villain — Mat Latos. #MatLatosComplaints was (and still is) a great way to pass an afternoon for some people on Twitter, but I really have no complaints about the guy. Perhaps it’s because I saw the Giants clinch the division against him in person last October, but for me, the entertainment value of a Latos start far outweighs any type of animosity one might feel against the blondest heavily-tattooed pitcher in baseball. Without Latos, what are the Padres? An extremely pesky (and boring) team that the Giants play about 10 times too often every year.
A Latos start, no matter where it takes place (since Petco Park because the Giants’ vacation home last season), is always a little more interesting because of his antics. He drives Giants fans crazy. People are into every pitch, and Latos reacts in kind.
While the prevailing wisdom is that Latos is having a difficult year, especially compared to the way he burst on the scene in 2010, that’s not exactly accurate once you get past the often-misleading win/loss record. He isn’t quite as sharp as he was last season (his walks are slightly up and his strikeouts are down about the same amount — less than 1 per 9 innings), but this isn’t a 6-12 pitcher. Latos is 22nd among qualifying starters in FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching, a formula that only takes into account HR, BB and K), and he’s still only 23. The Giants will have to contend with him for a while, and the strategy should always be the same: work the count and get him as angry as possible. If his focus is on the umpire and not the hitter he’s facing, scoring runs off Latos gets quite a bit easier.