Today was a pretty lousy day for baseball.
That’s not a particularly bold or controversial statement. The Giants had two, TWO, games against the St. Louis Cardinals, with their two best pitchers taking their turns. The Cardinals sit atop the NL Central and have the best record in the majors at 37-18. They’re real darn good. But still, a win or AT LEAST a competitive loss would’ve been a little better than the whuppin’ that happened today.
It’s a well known fact by now that the Giants are getting by on their offense, almost exclusively. They lead the NL in OPS+ with 112 (.732 OPS), but rank last in the NL in ERA+ with 83 (4.11 ERA). This ain’t your slightly older brother’s Giants. But really, how bad has it been? Pretty ugly:
|Ryan Vogelsong ||9||9||-1.7|
|Tim Lincecum ||11||11||-0.8|
|Matt Cain ||11||11||-0.4|
|Barry Zito *||11||11||-0.3|
|Madison Bumgarner *||11||11||1.1|
Bumgarner is the only Giants starter with positive WAR and that’s before today’s game. Pitching WAR has its problems, and Fangraphs ranks the pitchers a little differently , but the outlook is pretty sad.
But that just makes today’s futility at the plate all the more frustrating. I understand that today’s scores aren’t actually totally accurate. If I squint and stand up too quickly I can believe that the Giants would’ve
beaten the Cardinals been slightly less humiliated if they had run out their varsity lineup: Buster Posey sat for the second game, while Angel Pagan and Pablo Sandoval remain sidelined with injuries.
Guillermo Quiroz, Joaquin Arias and Nick Noonan are, well, not very good:
|Guillermo Quiroz ||18||36||0.0|
|Joaquin Arias ||37||46||-0.1|
|Nick Noonan *||32||55||-0.3|
So that’s my positive takeaway from this game. If this had been game 7 of a hypothetical playoffs and the Giants had the chance to play with an ideal lineup, they maybe they would’ve stood a chance against Wainwright. Maybe.
But unfortunately that’s just not the way the world works, and the Giants don’t have a reasonable Plan B if one of their starters goes down. I don’t know if you’re scared yet, but I sure am.
And yes, the pitchers. The pitchers the pitchers the pitchers. I don’t know if this is just naive or if I don’t want to admit what the xFIP dragons have been saying all along, but I don’t think Matt Cain is broken. I don’t know anything about sign-stealing, if it’s really a thing or if it’s just a convenient excuse for getting spanked, but I’m sure going to cling to that as long as it’s a viable explanation. And the 9 strikeouts and 5 perfect innings have to be a good sign, right? Right? Matt Cain Panic Level: 1.9/10.
And Madison Bumgarner? Let’s focus on the six strikeouts in six innings, rather than the five runs over that stretch. It’s one thing to accept that your team has gone from pitching-heavy to hitting-heavy, and when your rotation is Cain-Bumgarner-PrayForRain. Now, we’re just praying for rain every day. It can’t stay this bad.
But hey, no errors.