Logan Webb, the author of the above quote, wearing a Steph Curry jersey after losing a Warriors-Kings Game 7 bet to Brandon Crawford
After the Giants’ somewhat surprising series win in Houston this week, Logan Webb was candid about what the team had been dealing with since their weekend in Mexico City.
“Hopefully the shits go away” is going to tough to top this season 😂 pic.twitter.com/uNtZMbKfUJ
— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) May 3, 2023
When I saw that quote, I knew it had to be a metaphor for how the Giants’ season has gone thus far. They mostly played putrid baseball in April until the last week. Starting with the game against the Mets on April 22, they’ve won 8 of 11–but that has gone five wins, three losses, and now three wins (and counting). They looked pretty awful/putrid during those three losses in the middle, but in hindsight, I think we should attribute that to the rigors of the Mexico City series…and the s**ts. Are “the s**ts going away”? Let’s take a look.
The Current Win Streak
The two wins in Houston and the home win last night all took similar paths. They got excellent (Anthony DeSclafani) to very good (Logan Webb) to good enough (Sean Manaea) starting pitching. The offense got going and gave them leads. In last night’s game, they rallied twice from short-lived deficits. Wilmer Flores added insurance runs in two straight games with homers in the ninth inning. But the most important “s**ts” that needed to “go away” were the “runs” (double entendre intended) that the bullpen has experienced. Camilo Doval has three straight saves, and they got great relief last night from John Brebbia and Tyler Rogers (two innings) to get to Doval. In short, the pitching staff has been operating as originally designed, and the hitters have done just enough to win. In last night’s game, for example, they scored more runs (6) than they had hits (5), but they were really well-timed hits (a two-run homer by J.D. Davis, Flores’s insurance-run homer, and a two-out RBI single by Joc Pederson with the bases loaded). One of the encouraging signs in these latest three wins is that the Giants are still hitting homers, but they’re not only hitting homers.
Now, all is not perfect. The defense is still costing the pitchers. In the first inning last night, Manaea was scuffling. He’d given up several hard hit balls and a run, but he’d also induced a double play. He was about to get himself out of trouble with only one run by picking off the runner on first–but the Giants mishandled the rundown, apparently forgot there was a runner on third, and that run scored before the picked-off runner was tagged out. This was a completely unforced error that looked especially costly with Brewers’ ace Corbin Burnes on the mound. A throwing error by Joey Bart in the fifth cost Manaea two more runs (only one earned). Similarly, Webb had to pitch around a couple of errors on Wednesday. On the other hand, Mitch Haniger, who is never going to be on anyone’s Gold Glove short list, made a great catch in support of Rogers in the eighth inning last night.
On the offensive side, the bottom of the Giants’ lineup is looking pretty ragged right now following the injuries to Brandon Crawford and Mike Yastrzemski in Mexico. Now, Crawford’s OPS+ of 61 isn’t missed all that much…except that his replacement, Brett Wisely, is hitting .074, and at least Crawford, who has four homers this season, can run into one sometimes. But Yaz was having a fine start to his season, and his replacement, Cal Stevenson, is hitting .000 thus far. Then there’s David Villar, who’s down to .145, and Michael Conforto, who’s at just .187. The top of the order (LaMonte Wade Jr., Thairo Estrada, Austin Slater when he plays) are doing a good job of table-setting. The middle guys (Davis, Pederson, and Haniger) are contributing both power and timely hits, and as for Wilmer–maybe he needs to play more than he has been. But there are a lot of weak links at the moment.
This Week’s Heroes
These past three games have really all felt like good team wins, but several guys stand out.
- The Big Three (Webb, DeSclafani, and Cobb): The Giants lost Cobb’s last start (the second game in Mexico City), but that certainly wasn’t his fault. Considering the carnage of Saturday’s game, he pitched great. And DeSclafani’s and Webb’s contributions to the current win streak have already been mentioned. But they’re better than just the past week. Webb is tied for third in the NL in strikeouts. DeSclafani and Cobb are top 10 in ERA, and DeSclafani leads the league in WHIP. All three of them are among the best in the league in walk rates. They’re not just the three best starters on the Giants–they’re three of the best starting pitchers in the NL so far. The Giants’ rotation ERA of 3.47 is third best in the NL, and that’s all the Big Three.
- J.D. Davis: Davis is leading the team in homers and RBIs. I remember in the offseason, there were various articles about “Who’s going to play 3B for the Giants this year?”–remember, for one crazy week in December, it was going to be Brandon Crawford(!), and there was Villar and Flores, and what about Casey Schmitt, right there in AAA waiting for an opportunity? I remember reading entire articles that didn’t even mention J.D. Davis in that mix. But now here he is, not only the clear choice to play everyday because of his bat–but also because of his glove. There have been a couple of good articles this week observing that Davis is not only competent at 3B, he’s been one of the best defenders in the league. Davis credits Kai Correa’s coaching for his improvement, and both articles also pointed out that he never really got to settle into a position in his years with the Mets. Anyway–J.D. Davis is the Giants’ third baseman now, full stop. What that means for Villar and Schmitt remains to be seen, but it’s notable that the River Cats started Schmitt at 2B in two straight games this week. With Schmitt moving around the infield and the promotion to AAA of Tyler Fitzgerald, it’s clear that the Giants are trying to line up some depth options if Crawford can’t stay healthy/play better and/or if Villar needs to press the reset button in AAA.
- This was a pretty impressive home run by Davis last night, and it came right after that disheartening botched rundown play that had put the Giants into an early 2-0 hole. “Just Dingers” is not a fair nickname for Davis, who’s hitting well overall, not just homers, but he sure can hit them.
JD goes oppo-taco on Cinco de Mayo 🌮 pic.twitter.com/YasyeBlazR
— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) May 6, 2023
- Joey Bart: Bart’s work behind the plate this week became especially visible when he smartly used his mound visits to keep Doval from getting a costly pitch clock violation in Tuesday night’s win at Houston. That same day, it was announced that former All-Star catcher Gary Sanchez had been released from the organization after not hitting a lick in his few weeks at AAA. As Alex Pavlovic pointed out, the Sanchez development, plus the earlier injury to Opening Day starting catcher Roberto Perez and the DFA of Austin Wynns (now on his third NL West team, the Rockies, after the Dodgers DFA’d him), means that the Giants are all-in with their quartet of young catchers (Bart, 26; Blake Sabol, 25; and AAA catchers Patrick Bailey, 23, and Ricardo Genoves, 23). I feel good about this direction. The Giants still need to figure out what the post-Posey era looks like for them behind the plate, and investing in young homegrown options, two of whom were first-round draft picks, seems like a good use of their time this year. Webb had some great comments about Bart after his win on Wednesday:
“I feel like people don’t understand how hard it is to do well in the big leagues to start. He was a rookie last year, I feel like people forget about that. I think he’s just kind of coming into his own,” Webb said. “There’s a reason he was the No. 2 overall pick. He’s one of the most talented baseball players I’ve ever played with, it just takes time sometimes.
“I stunk when I first came up. It’s a process. If he sticks with it, he’s one of the most hard-working guys I’ve ever met, and I’m excited for him and excited to see where it keeps going.”
I like Webb’s reminder that “it just takes time sometimes.” It did take Webb awhile to become LOGAN WEBB, Ace. We Giants fans got spoiled by the likes of Posey, who needed no time to acclimate to the big leagues, or even Tim Lincecum, who spent like five minutes in the minors before quickly becoming a two-time Cy Young Award winner. Going even further back, there was the rapid arrival of Will Clark in 1986, mere months after being the #2 pick in the previous year’s draft.
Willie’s Birthday/MyGuy™ Deadline
Since I mentioned Lincecum, it was sixteen years ago today that he made his big league debut. That was a good day in Giants history, but it’s not close to the most important one. That happened 92(!!!) years ago today, in 1931, when one Willie Howard Mays Jr. was born in Alabama. Happy Birthday to the Say Hey Kid!
Because it’s Willie’s birthday, it’s also the deadline for this year’s MyGuy™ contest. One last time, here’s the deal:
- Pick one position player and one pitcher from each minor league team in the Giants’ system. Choose the eight you think will Improve the most this year. Then follow the link to our ballot and check the boxes that match your picks. You will get an email confirmation. Save that email as it gives you a link back to change your picks right up until the deadline: Willie’s Birthday, May 6.
Want even more details or have questions? Write to HaakAway at: MySFGiantGuy@gmail.com.
I’ve submitted my ballot and have changed it several times already. So if you haven’t entered yet–or you want to take one last look before your ballot becomes final–today is the day! I don’t know if this is new, but I just noticed that there’s a link to an affiliates’ page on the Giants’ website. I usually go to MiLB.com to look things up, but this may be more convenient.
It’s cloudy and rainy here in Davis today, and I don’t know what the afternoon’s forecast is for San Francisco, but here’s the schedule:
Brewers at Giants, 4:15 p.m. at Willie Mays Field
Colin Rea vs. Alex Cobb
“Hopefully the s**ts go away” and the Giants have a good week! Lefty out.