by DrLefty

Who knew there were so many important days in the middle of March? My title didn’t even cover Pi Day on March 14. (We had pizza in honor of the day and to wish Steph Curry a happy 36th birthday.)  Anyway, today is not one of those special days. It’s March 16, and we’ll just talk about the Giants, who are now over halfway through spring training and Cactus League play.

Just like last week when I was writing Out of Left Field, the Giants haven’t played in several days due to a scheduled off-day followed by a rainout. In hindsight, I guess we got our Scottsdale trip in perfectly between rainouts. While I didn’t care much about missing a Giants/A’s rematch (the one we saw last Saturday in Scottsdale was kind of a mess), I was really disappointed that the Spring Breakout game with all the top minor leaguers was canceled. It was going to be televised on the A’s channel, and I’d planned my late afternoon around watching it. Ah, well, what do you expect from the Ides of March?

Honestly, not much has happened in Giantsville since the last time I wrote, but let’s do a quick round-up.

 

Games and Performances

The Giants won their game last Saturday and one of the split-squad games on Sunday. They lost on Monday, won on Tuesday, and lost on Wednesday (in a wind-blown mess that the Reds won 19-11. Juan Sanchez was the only one of seven Giants’ pitchers not to give up any runs, and–remember that name for the next section.) So that’s…counts on fingers…3-3 for the week.

The Giants are actually second in MLB with an OPS of .828, so that’s good. A bunch of guys are hitting. Unfortunately, if you look at the stats of who’s hitting the most, it includes various players who will not be on the 26-man roster on Opening Day. The following Giants players have an OPS over 1.000 in the Cactus League:

  • Nick Ahmed (yay!): 1.632
  • Ismael Munguia: 1.413
  • J.D. Davis (oops): 1.271
  • Wilmer Flores: 1.227
  • Luis Matos: 1.113
  • Trenton Brooks: 1.063
  • Wade Meckler: 1.060
  • Cooper Hummel: 1.056
  • David Villar: 1.055

Of those, only Ahmed and Flores are likely to be on the team on March 28. Now, other presumed regulars are over .900 OPS (Jung Hoo Lee, Michael Conforto) or .800 (Patrick Bailey, Matt Chapman). So…not bad, but not as good as the “second in MLB in OPS” might suggest. (Don’t ask who’s first. You know without looking it up.)

What about the pitching, though? Well…the Giants are dead-last in ERA at 6.45, but I’m sure everything will be just fine. Logan Webb, who not surprisingly leads the team in innings pitched, is having his characteristic rough spring (ERA 10.03). Mason Black (6.97), who’s likely the heir-apparent to the injured Tristan Beck’s rotation spot, got roughed up in that nasty windy game with the Reds. We thought Black looked pretty good in his turn last Saturday, though, and Jordan Hicks looked great in his outing against the White Sox last Sunday.. One rotation stalwart who is having a good spring is Kyle Harrison (2.08). So while the overall numbers are ugly, with such small sample sizes, it’s easy for an ERA to get skewed quickly.  I’m not that worried about the rotation in its current form, especially with Alex Cobb on the way back sooner rather than later, hopefully, but I have lots of questions about the bullpen and about what happens if Keaton Winn can’t come back soon, if someone else gets injured, or if a youngster(s) that they’re counting on falter(s).

 

Injuries

Do you want the good news or the bad news first?  The good news? OK, here it is: Alex Cobb is going to throw two innings in a minor league game today, and if all keeps going well, he could be pitching for the Giants before April is over. That is good news, especially since the Giants continue to not add to their thin rotation, which we’ll get to next.

Meanwhile, Ethan Small, who as a 40-man roster member had perhaps an inside track to make the team as a lefty reliever, has an oblique strain and will be out several weeks. If you’re keeping track (for your My26ManGuy™ ballot), the only other lefty reliever on the 40-man roster besides Taylor Rogers is Erik Miller and…that’s it. And Miller was optioned to minor league camp days ago, but that could change, I guess. Among the non-roster invitees, the only two lefties remaining in major league camp are Amir Garrett and Juan Sanchez. So let’s look at those two. Garrett has pitched 3.2 Cactus League innings and has an ERA of 14.73. He’s given up 6 runs on 8 hits with 4 walks and 2 strikeouts, for an ugly WHIP of 3.27 and a batting average against of .444. In contrast, Sanchez has pitched 6 innings with an ERA of 1.50, a miniscule 0.50 WHIP, 8 strikeouts, and 0 walks. Seems like an easy choice to me, but on the other hand, Garrett is 31 and has appeared in 322 major league games for Cincinnati and Kansas City. Sanchez is 23 and hasn’t made his major league debut yet, but he split last season between AA Richmond and AAA Sacramento and had a pretty good year (3.03 ERA, 80 strikeouts in 74.1 innings pitched). You could hedge your bets on your ballot and pick both of them, but since both would need a roster spot, that seems unlikely. (The Giants do have a 40-man spot open due to…well, the J.D. Davis thing. And congrats to J.D. on his new job with the A’s.)

Speaking of lefty pitchers, the Giants don’t have many of them of any description. In the rotation, there’s just Harrison. In the bullpen, there’s Taylor Rogers and whomever they pick from the above paragraph. You know who’s left-handed? Blake Snell. You know who else? Jordan Montgomery. Just saying.

In other injury news, Jung Hoo Lee tweaked his hamstring and is expected to miss a couple of days, but otherwise, the position players seem healthy. Keaton Winn was scheduled to throw an inning in a minor league game on Wednesday, but I couldn’t find any reports on how that went. Opening Day is now less than two weeks away, and I don’t see how there’s time for Winn to be ready to start with the big club, but what do I know? I just keep doing math and not seeing how the Giants are going to field a pitching staff in March/April unless they add someone or really push a youngster (like Landen Roupp) or rely on another non-roster invitee (like today’s two starters, Spencer Howard and Daulton Jefferies).

 

Cease and Snell

The White Sox finally traded Dylan Cease to the Padres for a bunch of prospects. Even though it was reported that the Giants had been “in on” trade talks for Cease, Alex Pavlovic clarified that none of those conversations had been recent. So we don’t need to get our bridesmaid dresses out of the closet. The Giants didn’t “finish second” on this one.

Also, Blake Snell did a showcase of sorts yesterday in which he threw 60 pitches in a simulated game with 4-5 teams, including the Giants, watching. Current rumors have the Astros in hot and heavy on trying to sign Snell, and it’s been rumored for awhile that he really wants to sign with the Angels(?).  Nobody seems to think the Giants are serious about signing him, and I guess I agree, though I’d be happy to be wrong. If they wanted him (or if he wanted them), why isn’t it a done deal already? And as Ryan noted in the comments yesterday, why do the Giants (or anyone) need a showcase at this point? Didn’t Snell just win the NL Cy Young Award? Has anything changed since that happened?

 

My26ManGuy™–Last Call!  

The deadline for this year’s contest is tomorrow, March 17. Here is the ballot link:

You can edit your guesses up until the deadline (save the email you receive after submitting your ballot). I’ve already submitted my ballot a few times, but I’m sure I’ll still be changing it up until then.

 

Today’s Split-Squad Games (unless it rains again)

1)Guardians at Giants, 1:05 p.m. at Scottsdale Stadium (TV: NBCS-BA; Radio: KNBR)

Daulton Jefferies starting for the Giants

2) Giants at White Sox, 1:05 p.m. at Camelback Ranch (TV: NBCS-Chicago)

Spencer Howard starting for the Giants

 

So that’s it for this week. Before you get obliterated for St. Patrick’s Day (or maybe you’re still sleeping off Pi Day), be sure to submit your My26ManGuy™ ballot. Enjoy this spring weekend. Lefty out.