The lone run of today’s game came from a sacrifice fly. There was 1 walk against 12 strikeouts. It turns out the Giants can’t hit. They’re exceptionally bad at it. And even if the season is young and it’s far too early to panic or catastrophize, what we certainly can do is consider the 15 games we’ve seen and try to figure out the right combination of words to describe just how bad the hitters are.
I tumble into a sadness abyss when I think about the difference in the sound off the Giants’ bats versus the Padres’. When a Giant hits a ball, it sounds like hitting a balloon. When a Padres’ hitter hit the ball, it sounded like an echoing rocket launch. Does this mean the Giants have puny muscles and approach the game more thoughtfully and less physically? Who knows! It’s only fifteen games. We should probably give them the benefit of the doubt. Last year didn’t happen and has no bearing on this year. The Giants came into San Diego and scored 7 runs and then absolutely disappeared for the next 3 games and offered up very little resistance to what was supposed to be a bad team. In the time it took me to write this paragraph, the Giants struck out a dozen times!
If the Giants keep playing like this, we’re all going to be well-rested by the end of the year, and not just because there won’t be playoff baseball to watch but because we’ll have fallen asleep through so many blowouts during the regular season. It’s still early, of course, but the Giants have been exceptionally bad more than they have been just okay, which appears to be their ceiling. They’ve been especially bad on Sundays, too, losing 9-0 to the Dodgers in the opening weekend, then 2-1 in extra innings the following weekend (again, to the Dodgers), and then 10-1 today (to the Padres! The San Diego Padres!).
It’s tough to find the positives after losing three of four to the Padres. The Giants thought they had built a team that was better than the Padres, but after Thursday night’s 7-1 loss, the Padres simply beat the Giants out of that thinking because they could — they are that much more talented, somehow. About the only assumption that survived this 4-game series was The Power of Tony Watson. Everything else is one big question mark.
The Giants were trying to stay around .500 until they could get back both Samardzija and Bumgarner, but that’s looking more implausible than improbable by the day. They’ve already lost 3 in a row for the second time this season and they’re not really a team that’s designed to rip off a bunch of wins in a row (my evidence of this is Bruce Bochy’s commitment to benching players playing well to get in guys who haven’t played at all so that they don’t feel left out and commitment to benching his second best hitter 4 times in the team’s first fifteen games).
Joey Lucchesi is a left-handed pitcher who throws a terrific curveball. Those two characteristics automatically spell doom for the Giants’ lineup. There’s literally nothing they can do about that combination of pitching. They will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, never, ever win baseball games against left-handed pitchers who throw curveballs and, therefore, they should not even try.
Okay, that’s impossible — baseball is weird enough that they will fluke win some of those games, but the fact of the matter is, that whenever luck isn’t on their side, they look exceptionally terrible against the left-handed pitcher / curveball throwing combo. The Giants have faced the most left-handed pitchers in the sport and the most curveballs of any team. The Giants are, perhaps unsurprisingly, the absolute worst at both.
The Giants have scored 1 run or 0 runs 8 times already. Every single hitter is “to blame” here, but the ugly truth is that there’s nothing they, they coaches, the organization, or any of us can do about it. They have to either adapt to the curveball or die.
Tyler Beede looked like a rookie making his second major league start, and whatever adjustments he managed to make that helped him put some crispness on his pitches didn’t hold up for very long. The three walks on his stat line were backbreakers — although, if I’m Tyler Beede, I’m probably not beating myself up too much on this one because short of a perfect game, there’s nothing he could’ve done to win this game for an inert offense.
He’s being asked to help the pitching staff tread water, and this feels like it’s too big of an assignment for him. He’s struggled in the minor leagues and whatever makes him interesting to scouts hasn’t quite translated into consistency. Ideally, he’s filling in for someone in the back of a rotation that’s led by Bumgarner, Cueto, and Samardzija, but these are not ideal circumstances! The Giants’ ship is sinking fast! He’s been shoved a bucket and basically told he’s got one whole side of the deck to clear of water himself.
The Padres hitters made adjustments on the fly. After his first plate appearance, Christian Villanueva started attacking the first pitch and hit the ball really hard. It was a credit to him that Tyler Beede and Josh Osich threw pitches right down the middle and he was able to take advantage of it. By comparison, the Giants hitters couldn’t hit a curveball, and maybe that should be the extent of my scouting report. But, it still looked like the hitters were looking for certain pitches or waiting on a sequence that never happened rather than reacting to what was there.
It looked like they thought they would be able to wait out Lucchesi, that he’d try to get them out on a pitch that wasn’t a curveball, and their thinking was that they’d make their move there — but the not-curveball never came, and instead Lucchesi humbled these veteran hitters with repetition and pitching like an actual veteran (“make them prove they can hit my curveball”.) The Giants have proven to the entire sport that they cannot hit curveballs. I think that means they’re going to see a lot more of them.
But this is all based on exceptionally small sample sizes. Anybody can look terrific or terrible in only 15 games. So, it’s enough to say that after fifteen games, the Giants don’t look any better than last season. After fifteen games, the Giants’ offense looks like it’s going to lose the majority of their games for them. Although, after fifteen games, the Giants look like they don’t have much of a bullpen to speak of again. And, finally, after fifteen games, the Giants have the same record this season as they did last season after fifteen games. Nice?