The Giants just got swept by one of the worst teams in the National League. If there was any inkling of hope of the Giants somehow making it to the playoffs before this series started, it’s that they were going to go on a two-week stretch of facing terrible, terrible teams (and the team that’s first in the NL West). Three games into that stretch, they’re 0-3 and they’ve been outscored 20-6. Before this series started, Fangraphs had the Giants at a 0.9 percent chance of making the playoffs, and that seems high.
I don’t know if the Giants have had a loss as emblematic of their philosophical failures as the one today. Luis Castillo started for the Reds whom the Giants traded for Casey McGehee because they didn’t trust Matt Duffy to take over third base. The Giants’ veteran-filled offense, another result of their distrust of young players and/or inability to develop players of their own, got shut down by Castillo. The Giants somehow scored four runs, and they needed Steven Duggar to drill two doubles, Jose Peraza to throw a ball in the dugout, and a ball to go straight through Tucker Barnhart’s glove.
Luis Castillo has had a rough year, but it’s hard to believe with how he pitched today. He threw 98 MPH fastballs on the black, and his changeup looked sharp. His command wavered as the game wore on, so his final strike percentage is less impressive than it was in the first few innings, but 78 percent is still great. Through his first 40 pitches, he only threw five balls. It’s hard to believe two teams would pass on an arm like that.
If the Giants had been hitting like a normal team, they could be forgiven for getting picked apart by a pitching performance like that.
Had Andrew Suárez given up just two or three runs instead of getting lit up, it just would have further shown how the Giants could use an injection of youth. Suárez earned a rotation spot over two guys with more major league experience and similar numbers. The Giants’ faith in Suárez showed a potential paradigm shift. I thought for sure the Giants would defer to a veteran when Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto returned* because that’s what they’ve always done. But they went with two rookies, and it has worked out until recently.
*The decision wound up being moot because Cueto and Samardzija both went back to the disabled list.
As is, it’s just another discouraging outing for a guy who was supposed to give us hope for 2019.
Things started out so promisingly for Andrew Suárez. He didn’t allow a hit for the first two innings. His fastball command was a little erratic, but his breaking pitches worked well. It looked as if he would have another outing like his last in Los Angeles: six innings, no runs but with a few walks.
Then the Reds batted around in the third inning and scored seven runs against him. The Reds hit for the team-cycle in the inning. Curt Casali hit a double, Scooter Gennett hit a triple, and Eugenio Suarez hit a dinger. A bunch of dudes singled.
After Suárez lasted only 2 2/3 innings, Ty Blach came in and gave up two runs in 2 2/3 innings. Ray Black got knocked around, too. If there’s any silver lining to be found in this game, it’s that the poor pitching performance allowed Chase d’Arnaud to pitch. Position player pitching has lost much of its luster in 2018, and the Giants already broke their 25-year drought when Pablo Sandoval showed off his deadly curveball earlier this year.
D’Arnaud was one of two Giants pitchers to not allow a run today, and he did it by throwing 78 MPH fastballs. Maybe everyone else is just trying too hard? It would have been nice if d’Arnaud had come out throwing 92 with a devastating curveball like Matt Davidson, but him coming in and lobbing the ball in and getting outs is cool, too, I guess.
One thing I noticed about Chase d’Arnaud was that he did a pretty good job of holding the runner on at first which seems like an unnecessary skill for a position player to have. For one thing, who is going to steal when they have a seven-run lead? Not only that, who is going to steal against a position player? Unwritten rules are mostly dumb and silly, but that would have been an egregious faux pas. I would never advocate for a player to have a rock-hard projectile hurled at their body, but that would require some kind of retaliation. Perhaps a purple nurple or a noogie.
Brandon Belt led off today for the first time in his career. It’s interesting that this came the day after Bryan suggested it. I know some people in the Giants front office read McCovey Chronicles (Hi Bobby!), but this seems like too much of a coincidence. If the Giants are really listening to our ideas and suggestions, I guess this season is our fault. Sorry about that.
At any rate, Belt went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, so this experiment likely made your dad upset. The Giants got shut down with their newfangled on-base/power leadoff hitter, and the Reds’ offense came alive with their prototypical slappy speed guy at the top of their order.
Belt leading off makes sense. Only Austin Slater has a higher on-base percentage than Belt and he has 250 fewer plate appearances. He’s the Giants best hitter—it’s a low bar, I know—and he should be put in a position to get as many at-bats as possible. He probably makes more sense as a second-place hitter because he has the highest combination of OBP and slugging, and he’ll get the same number of at-bats hitting second as he will leading off.
Steven Duggar Doubles Watch:
12 doubles in 124 plate appearances.
That’s a good amount of doubles!