No More Split-Squad Magic, I Guess

 

by Dr Lefty

Well, shoot. That didn’t go well at all.

The Giants lost both ends of a split-squad “doubleheader,” and the even worse news was that the two young(ish) starters slotted in as the fourth and fifth guys in the rotation both had bad days. Let’s start with Chris Stratton. He pitched beautifully for four innings, scattering a couple singles and walking none. Then he fell apart in the fifth inning, getting doinked with four singles and ultimately charged with four runs after the relief pitcher (“Jose Valdez”) let in two of his runners. So not great but maybe not terrible.

Then there was Ty Blach. Now, there’s a bad outing and then there’s a BAD OUTING, and the latter is what Blach had yesterday. Ignore the fact that a rare Brandon Crawford error in the first inning made the first four runs unearned. If you watched the game, you saw/heard loud contact after loud contact after loud contact. It seemed like I kept watching Steven Duggar race back to the centerfield wall (should he be playing a bit deeper, maybe?) on an endless loop, reaching helplessly as another screamer bounced off the wall over his head.

As Henry Schulman pointed out, now is not a good time for Blach to have that bad of an outing, not with limited opportunities remaining in spring training games to make an impression, and not with a veteran lefty starter having a good spring and a March 24 opt-out date.

 

Scattered bright spots

  • Sam Dyson: Maybe he was just waiting for St. Patrick’s Day. The “Angry Leprechaun” struck out the side and made it look easy, his best outing in awhile. It was good to see. They’re going to need him.
  • Andrew Suarez and Tyler Beede: Both pitched in relief yesterday. Suarez pitched the last two innings of the road game, allowing no baserunners and striking out four. Beede pitched a clean ninth in the home game, flashing a good changeup. But a chill may run over Beede if he reads Bochy’s comments (from Baggarly’s piece in The Athletic):

“He’s really throwing a nice changeup now to go with his other pitches,” Bochy said of Beede, who had a 12.27 ERA over his first three starts. “He looks comfortable. (Relief) could be a role for him. You never know. It’s good to get the experience in spring training, coming out of the ‘pen.”

Bochy said Beede’s stuff could play up in a shorter role.

“He’s got a power arm,” Bochy said. “You look at the fastball and how it can play, sure. Especially with that changeup.”

Yeah, when you’re 24 and haven’t even made your major league debut, you don’t want the manager already relegating you to the 2018 version of the Kyle Crick role. However, this is a very cool story in this video about Beede’s community work.

  • Rule 5 Guy (Julian Fernandez): I’m not sure his outing was exactly a “bright spot,” but it certainly was entertaining. Nick Hundley looked like he was hating life for a while there in the sixth inning. And I’ve never seen a play quite like this before, but Gold Glover Evan Longoria kept his head and made it work. I just can’t see Fernandez sticking with the club. If the Giants were one of the 10-15 or so tanking teams, why not? But they ostensibly want to win games this year, and I don’t see space for this kind of experiment.
  • Buster Posey hit his first homer of the spring, and that’s always a fine sight to see. Well, the game was televised, so I didn’t actually see it, but…you know. Poetic license. And it’s a vicious rumor (started by me) that Buster demanded to be on the road squad so that he wouldn’t have to catch Rule 5 Guy.

 

The outfield competition

610nm did a good job of outlining this in a comment yesterday, so let’s update it again after a split-squad day in which all of the main competitors appeared. The number in parentheses is the player’s spring ABs, followed by their batting average, OPS, and other relevant numbers. I have them sorted in order of spring batting average.

 

  1. Mac Williamson (40): .350,/OPS 1.166, 4 HRs, 14 RBIs
  2. Gregor Blanco (23): .348,/1.168, 5 XBHs, 3 RBIs
  3. Steven Duggar (37): .270/.994, 4 HRs, 9 RBIs, 13 Ks
  4. Austin Slater (32): .250/.763, 2 HR, 5 RBIs
  5. Chris Shaw (33): .242/.821, 2 HRs, 5 RBIs, 13 Ks
  6. Gorkys Hernandez (34): .235/.745, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 13 Ks
  7. Jarrett Parker (36): .222/.877, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 20(!!!!) Ks [Editorial note: the much-maligned Brandon Belt has 8 Ks in 34 ABs this spring.]

[Jarrett Parker is having a rough weekend, having to wear it about his alma mater, Virginia, losing to those gritty Retrievers from UMBC. Condolences also to fellow Virginia alum Javi Lopez.]

Anyway, here’s how I see this outfield thing as of today. Just drop Duggar, Slater, and Shaw from the list. They’re going to AAA. And yeah, I know all the arguments for Duggar making the team and don’t disagree with them, but I just believe he’s going to AAA whether we like it or not.  So the competition is between the two top guys and the two bottom guys on the above list. Blanco, I tend to agree, is a lock if Duggar starts in the minors–he’s the lefty bat who can platoon with Jackson (who, by the way, is hitting .360 with a .407 OBP this spring), and he’s still a good defensive outfielder who can back up all three positions. So it comes down to spring performance and intriguing power (Mac) vs. incumbents who have no more minor league options (Parker and Gorkys).

 

Today’s game

Giants at Rockies, 1:10 p.m, Bumgarner vs. Howard, Radio: KNBR

 

Here’s the Giants lineup, and I hope this doesn’t mean that Bochy plans to bench Belt for Sandoval vs. lefties. I see Hector Sanchez listed among the reserves–guess he’s mended from his hammy.

Enjoy your Sunday–Lefty out.