Giants Grind Out Win, Move Eight Games Up

Thearon W. Henderson - Getty Images

I don't know if you're familiar with NMA, but it's a Taiwanese media company that creates CGI animation based on current events. Here's a completely reasonable take on the New York Yankees, for instance.

That game was an NMA animation of Giants/Rockies games in AT&T Park. Runners stranded. Rockies flailing. The Giants getting exactly one run more than the Rockies. It was a caricature. I was hoping for some caricatures, to be honest. The Coors Field reversal over the last two seasons is a little disconcerting -- good and welcome, but disconcerting.

But the 2-1 win over the Rockies at AT&T is still intact. Phew.

Now we get to sit back and scrutinize the win, as if there were some aesthetic checkpoints the Giants didn't hit. That's the luxury we have as fans of a team eight games up in the division. We've earned this arrogance, and we owe it to Rockies fans to complain about this win a little bit. Such as …

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I'd skip Madison Bumgarner's next start, especially if the Giants win a couple of the next four games. It's easy to worry about velocity dips, but the Giants who have struggled over the last month have done so because of wonky control. The velocity hasn't been an issue for Ryan Vogelsong, for instance, but his command isn't nearly as fine. That's the issue.

With Bumgarner tonight, we got both! Lucky us. His velocity was a tick down, his pitches weren't as crisp, and his command wasn't there. When he walked the leadoff hitter in the first, it was a genuine ruh-roh moment. The same thing happened in the second inning. If you focus on the results, it was a great start. But that's a miserable way to analyze a pitcher. This Bumgarner wasn't the same one from July. I don't think that's a controversial opinion.

Whether that's a one-night thing, a one-month thing, or just an anomaly is up for debate. I'm not saying he's hurt, or he's going to get hurt if he keeps pitching. Hell, I don't know. But to hear Mike Krukow blithely say things like, "Yeah, around this time of year, there's some fatigue in that shoulder" gives me the willies. I don't think a skipped start is too reactionary. It's looking like there will be another month of baseball. If the next few games go well, I'm all for some Yusmeiro Petit just to give Bumgarner an extra breather.

It won't happen. But I'm more than a little worried about Bumgarner, considering he's 22 and in his second full season. Vogelsong? Not so much, even if he's been worse for longer. But he doesn't look like a different pitcher. Bumgarner does. In the post-game interview, Bumgarner said his "mechanics were as bad as they've been all year." A little rest probably couldn't hurt.

He's still a badass, of course.

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There were Dodgers fans watching tonight. They didn't have a game of their own, and they had nothing better to do, so …

Imagine them sinking into their couches, lower and lower, as the opiates of a Giants/Rockies game in AT&T took effect. So discouraging. So dispiriting. So amusing to think about.

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Brandon Crawford could win a Gold Glove. I wrote that sentence, and then Dave Flemming started talking about it on the post-game show. We're building a narrative to shove down your throats, so get used to it.

But the National League isn't replete with automatic candidates. Jimmy Rollins will probably win it because he's won them before. Clint Barmes is leading the world in UZR. But I could see Crawford getting some momentum at the end of the year. All he needs to do now is hit.

Crawford helped his Gold Glove chances with a double and a triple to deep center. He also made outstanding play after outstanding play, but that's not going to be enough to win a Gold Glove. I haven't seen enough of Zack Cozart or Barmes to say definitively that Crawford has them licked, but this is still the highest level of Giants shortstop I've watched since Omar Vizquel. And I'm pretty sure I'm more impressed with Crawford.


Would Miguel Tejada have made that play? I guess we'll never know.

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Santiago Casilla's ERA since August 1 dipped under 1.00 tonight.

Now, ERA is a pretty shoddy way to evaluate a reliever. But it's a lousy way to evaluate what you think a reliever will do going forward. It's not a bad way to explain why you suddenly feel comfortable with a reliever. And since that July weirdness, I've felt comfortable with Casilla, just as I did before that July funk. Just as I did last year. Casilla's been the best oft-maligned reliever in Giants history, and it's good to have him back pitching well.

Here's a better way to make the point. In Giants history, Christy Mathewson has the lowest ERA of any pitcher with more than 150 innings pitched as a Giant. Right behind him is Santiago Casilla.

If you want to adjust for era, you can use ERA+. Casilla comes in second again, right behind Sergio Romo and right above Robb Nen.

Again, ERA is not the best stat for relievers. But it gives you an idea that over the last three seasons, Casilla has been a positive asset for the Giants. And how. It's good to see him get his stuff, control, and confidence back.

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