Let's check in with the mood at the ballpark.
The only reason I'm bothering writing any words after that GIF is because I'm anal retentive.
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The record is stuck, the needle keeps skipping, and here we are again: I have no idea how Jake Peavy gets anyone out right now. When he has a hitter 0-2, which is rarely, I have no idea what the next step is. He might as well be facing a 3-1 count. There's no kill pitch. There's no weapon. He relies on deception and command, and his deception is limited and his command isn't as good as he would hope.
His control is fine. That is, he can throw strikes when he needs to, mostly, and avoid walking batters if he really has to. But his command isn't picture perfect. Peavy can run the two-seamer back into the inside corner against right-handers and steal strikes ... until he can't. Until he misses in or over the plate because, dang it, pitching perfectly is hard. It's why Bartolo Colon is still pitching well at 43 and a dozen different Giants prospects who can throw strikes will never finish a full season in the majors. It's a fine line between throwing strikes with below-average stuff and throwing quality strikes with below-average stuff.
At some point over the offseason, possibly when someone gross sneezed on him in an airport, Jake Peavy crossed that fine line. He needs to be a wizard with his limited stuff, but he's more of a magician at a kid's birthday party. Hey, it's better than I could do. I can do that thing where you pretend you're taking your own thumb off, but that's all I got. A kid's party magician can do way more. And yet he's not an actual wizard, with spells and such.
Let's compare Peavy to Albert Suarez, who entered the game an inning later. Pretend this wasn't a Giants game, but a Granfalloon State game, where you knew absolutely no one. You had nothing better to do, so you settled in and watched the whole thing. Which pitcher impressed you more?
Suarez threw harder, certainly. He also seemed to have the hitters off balance more. That is, he had the hitters off balance at all. Even if you give them a tie for the breaking stuff, Suarez is younger and bigger than the other guy. You would have drafted him and sent a scout to check on Peavy as an undrafted free agent.
And this isn't an endorsement of Suarez. He's looked fine in a few innings, don't get me wrong, but there's a reason the Rays let him go. They're the organization that can see Drew Smyly dancing from across the room and say "WE MUST HAVE HIM," but they weren't overly protective with Suarez. He bounced to the Angels, who thought the same thing.
Now, after a game started by Jake freaking Arrieta, who was dead to baseball a couple years ago, I'm not going to pooh-pooh the developmental capabilities of any pitcher. But the odds are against Suarez being a legitimate answer to any question a major league team could ask.
Yet he probably has a better chance to succeed as a starter in the majors than Peavy right now. I can't figure out what's different this year compared to last year, but you can see it in the pitch counts. Peavy didn't go deep into games last year, but he still didn't have the grindgrindgrind innings he's been murdering us with this year.
He's having those 20 and 30 pitch innings because he knows that he has to hit the corners or miss. Over and over again, try to hit the corner, miss. Try to hit the corner, strike. Try to hit the corner, miss. Try to hit the corner, miss. I'd describe it as a lack of confidence, except I think it's more of a cynical pragmatism. It's the cold tin of beans in the earthquake kit. Eat up, because it's all there is.
Also, I wasn't impressed with that outing from Jake Peavy. Next time, fair champion!
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The worst part is that Jake Arrieta was vulnerable for scattered at-bats. He gave up the hardest-hit ball of the season to Denard Span in the first at-bat, and Jason Heyward jumped on his WAR chariot and raced it down. Then there was a walk, and it was suddenly like, say, this guy might not be right.
He wasn't. Not quite. He still allowed a run in seven innings, don't get me wrong. But there were balls left over the plate. There were warning-track fly balls that could have used a friendly zephyr. He wasn't ordinary; he was merely very good. The Giants can mess with very good, I've seen it.
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Let's take a moment to appreciate the nonsensical Jason Heyward catch, which was probably the best catch I've seen at AT&T Park. If you're adding in a game situation component, Gregor Blanco's perfect game saver was probably better, but as far as being absolutely sure that a fielder wasn't going to catch a ball, this one reigns supreme.
I know Heyward is sporting a .001 on-base percentage right now, but that play makes me wistful. He's an overqualified right fielder, and there isn't a park in the land that can use an overqualified right fielder more than AT&T Park. I wouldn't swap his contract with Span's right now, not until he started hitting even a little bit.
But the possibilities of that guy in right or center or, heck, put him right behind second base and let him run hither and thither when a ball is hit in the air.
That would be entertainment. What a catch. I'm almost glad this game happened tonight because of that catch. Almost.
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Quick quibble: Bruce Bochy played matchups in the eighth, bringing in Javier Lopez to face Anthony Rizzo, down by seven.
Don't do that. The Giants had, without looking, a [fart sound] percent chance of winning the game. Yet they have a fair chance of winning either of the next two games. They could be close. You might need a deceptive lefty to face their best left-handed slugger.
Anthony Rizzo got a free look at Lopez on Friday night. I can't imagine the advantages to that, not when the reward was protecting a seven-run deficit with two outs.
Like, that's the kind of free look that could have repercussions in the NLCS.
Not that I'm getting ahead of myself. Hard not to when you watch an awesome game like that.
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