In their last 30 road games the Giants have a record of 5-25. No, it’s not a typo. This from a team that at one point won nine straight away baseball games earlier this year. If you recall the turning point of the season it was after the Giants won the first two games against the Reds in Cincy. They lost the next two, got swept by a terrible Nationals team in DC and then lost a makeup game in Detroit to the Tigers. Since then the Giants have been in a free-fall, a nosedive that gets GMs and Managers fired in New York or Philadelphia. give or take a series win at home or two the Giants have failed to put together a starting rotation. Have failed to hit home runs on a consistent basis, have failed in basic situational hitting, have regressed defensively, and have had their worst selves, their weaknesses exposed to the baseball world.
Last night the Giants lost in another disheartening game to the DBacks, 7-1, in another game started by their stud, Logan Webb, in another game when on a good team Webb gets the win instead of the loss.
The worst part of the two-game sweep at the hands of the Diamondbacks in Phoenix was, for Giants fans anyway, the illustration of the disparity in team talent and philosophy between the two teams. The Diamondbacks used their excellent team speed to take extra bases, make superb catches in the outfield and generally steal outs when similar balls hit by the DBacks would end up as hits with guys like Joc Pederson playing the outfield for the Giants or players like Wilmer Flores playing the infield. Throw in the superior overall pitching and athleticism and its a wonder the Giants were even this close to the DBacks all year, in fact for much of the season the San Francisco Baseball Club Limited was ahead of Arizona. Go figure!
The second worst part of this horrible series was how poorly the Giants played and how poorly Gabe Kapler managed. These were the two most important games of the long season. The Giants were trying to pass Arizona for a foothold on the final National League Wild Card spot, baseball’s expansion of the postseason format. Instead the Giants played two of their worst games of the year. They looked lifeless. They played bad defense. They looked slow. They could not hold leads in either game. They looked almost disinterested, or at the very least, pessimistic about their chances to enter the postseason. Those looks are on Gabe Kapler.
How on Earth do you bat Thairo Estrada ninth????? What kind of Analytics tells you to give your best overall hitter (and player) the fewest at bats in the game?
It’s called “overthinking” and “over-managing” in the worst way. It reeks of desperation and part of me feels a bit sorry for Gabe. This roster is not on him. This lack of overall team athleticism (speed, power, resilience, defensive ability) is on Farhan Zaidi and his group in the front office. So much about making the Giants a better defensive team. Remember all that talk in the offseason after last year? So much about the depth in the starting rotation!
Logan Webb’s Excellent Season
It’s time to talk about Logan Webb. He leads the Major Leagues in innings pitched at 207 and counting. Webb has remained the consummate leader and professional on the Giants and the workhorse has put up exceptionally good ERA, WHIP and other numbers all year. He has allowed the fewest base runners per innings pitched in the Major Leagues! He is fourth in the Majors for all pitchers with a bWar of 4.9. He has the best walk rate of 3.7% and he has the best ground ball rate at 61.7%. These are simply tremendous stats that should have given Webb at least 15-16 wins by now, maybe more. If he were pitching for the Dodgers or Braves he would have a 20-win season. Instead the Giants are 14-18 in his starts! To me the most impressive thing after his durability is the consistency. He puts up solid start after solid start only to watch his team fail to give him run support or his bullpen to cough up leads. He has never complained, at least not to the press.
If you want a good summation of Webb’s season read Andrew Baggarly’s article in today’s Athletic. Here is a snippet:
The Giants should count themselves lucky to have Webb the pitcher. They might count themselves even luckier to have Webb the professional. And not merely because he hasn’t kvetched about the lack of runs. There’s a whole lot more that Webb has every right to be steamed about. He is the only player in the five-year Farhan Zaidi regime as team president of baseball operations to receive more than a three-year commitment. He is more invested in the future of this franchise than any other player. He has watched the roster churn around him. He has looked at the lineup card and seen players like Joc Pederson and Yermin Mercedes playing left field behind him. He watched the front office do next to nothing to bolster the lineup or rotation at the trade deadline, instead leveraging Harrison for three starts of 90-plus pitches when he hadn’t thrown that many since last year for Low-A San Jose. He pitched in a rotation that used tandem starters and openers and frustrated veterans like Stripling and Alex Wood, and the Giants only had the option of trying their scheme because Webb continued to perform as the ultimate bulk pitcher without complaint, loading up innings on his 26-year-old shoulder.
“He (Logan Webb) goes seven or eight every outing. It’s just incredible. He’s a bulldog. Takes the ball every time. If he’s scheduled for the sixth day, he asks to take it in five. He’s an old baseball soul. It’s like he’s from the generation of pitchers who were getting out of the game when I was coming up. It’s refreshing to see.”
Run support per 27 outs this season for currently qualified MLB pitchers while they were in the game:
2.9 Logan Webb
3.0 George Kirby
3.1 Braxton Garrett
3.3 Kyle Freeland
3.4 JP Sears
3.4 Kevin Gausman
3.4 Miles Mikolas
3.5 Sonny Gray
3.5 Mitch Keller
3.7 Merrill Kelly
— Codify (@CodifyBaseball) September 20, 2023
Giants Dropping Like Flies
To make matters worse for the Giants Brandon Crawford, likely playing in his last games as a Giant, pulled a hamstring running the bases in the second inning. It’s a typical “veteran injury” and it will deprive him of playing one more series against the Dodgers when the club travels to Los Angeles to play four games beginning tonight. He was placed on the 10-day Injured List. Alex Cobb is done for the season with a bad hip. Keaton Winn has Covid and is out for at least a week. Patrick Bailey has already played in more games in his career than ever and appears to be in physical decline, making another throwing error last night, his 12th error of the season (Somebody needs to teach Patrick that art of footwork and mechanics when throwing. What difference does it make to have a fast poptime if you are throwing from all kinds of weird angles and body positions and the ball ends up in center field?).
The Postseason Outlook
The Giants are not mathematically eliminated from the final Wild Card spot but with a record of 76-76, limping to the finish line and three games behind the last spot in the Wild Card with ten games to play, it does not look good. I never count a team out until they are officially eliminated. Baseball has taught me that much. But the issue with the Giants, as we all know, is that they are battling three teams for that spot. So unless the Reds, Marlins and DBacks all go 3-7 in their final ten games or worse AND the Giants go at least 7-3, the season is over.
It would have been so nice and so exciting if this four-game series against the Dodgers meant a bit more than it does. Tonight’s game will feature Kyle Harrison making a start after being called up to take Alex Cobb’s spot on the roster. He will face Emmett Sheehan. Game time is at 7:10 PM in Los Angeles.