This weekend is Players Weekend! The Giants begin a nine-game home stand tomorrow night against the Texas Rangers. You’ll recall that was their opponent in the 2010 World Series, which is probably why the organization waited until this weekend to hold the 2010 World Series Team Reunion as part of their 60th Anniversary Celebration. Tickets for that event are sold out, however, you can get tickets to the game itself through our sponsor StubHub starting at $15. The first 35,000 fans on Saturday will receive a Buster Hugs bobblehead, seen here:
But there are other events throughout the home stand, including Italian Heritage Night (Friday, August 24th), Irish Heritage Night (Monday, August 27th), Sandlot Night (Monday, August 27th as well), Bruce Lee Tribute Night (Tuesday, August 28th), Jewish Heritage Night (Wednesday, August 29th), and Star Trek Night (Friday, August 31st), which is also a fireworks night. Again, StubHub has got you covered. Tickets for this list of games are available starting at $6 (before fees, special event add-on pricing, etc.). If you want to get the Giants out of your system before September, this is the perfect time do it.
Yesterday in Oakland, Rangers reliever, sinkerballer, and #ForeverGiant Cory Gearrin threw a pitch high and tight at the A’s Khris Davis, hitting the slugger in the shoulder. Davis had homered in the first two games of the series and tormented the Rangers all season long (and, really, since the A’s traded for him). Behold, a brief gallery of pain:
And the very next night, they blow a 5-1 lead.— All we are is Dustin Nguyen (@itsdtrain) July 26, 2018
Khris Davis hits another three-run homer off Cory Gearrin to cut the deficit to one run... pic.twitter.com/0EFKF1d51u
...and with the A's down to their last strike, he hits a two-run homer off Jose Leclerc to put them in front. pic.twitter.com/4YCHylunhk— All we are is Dustin Nguyen (@itsdtrain) July 26, 2018
Gearrin’s only option was to invoke the unwritten rule of baseball: “If you’re better than me, you’re getting beaned.” It’s a good unwritten rule. It’s a line in the sand, separating the boys from the men. The moment also served as a good reminder that Cory Gearrin is no longer on the Giants.
Since being traded along with Austin Jackson on July 8th, Gearrin’s solid season has continued, but now we don’t have to watch his slow, aggrieved pitching process unfold — again, slowly — over a long 5th or 6th inning, wonder if this sinker will be in the zone and if it will be the one that gets the double play the Giants actually needed two hitters before.
He’s performing fine (4.32 FIP in 18 innings) on a team that’s in competition hibernation — a rebuild. For the past two seasons, Jon Daniels and company have decided that their window was closed and they needed to figure things out. They traded Cole Hamels to the Cubs right before the deadline, and Bartolo Colon is the staff ace. He and 32-year old Gearrin are actually part of The Oldest Pitching Staff In Franchise History. Sure, Colon’s 45 years certainly skews the average (32.1), but when you consider how long the Rangers have been around (long enough) and how bad they’ve been (most of the time), having old hard-throwin’ Texas slangers seems like a given.
Nolan Ryan only pitched for that team from 1989-1993 (age 41-46) and, bizarrely, only the 1990 season’s staff had an average age of 30 or older (30.3). The 2018 Rebuilding Rangers’ 31.2 average age of the pitching staff tops only the 1980 squad’s 31.0 average age. That staff boasted Hall of Famers Fergie Jenkins (37) and Gaylord Perry (41). The team also went 76-85 with two ties.
We won’t be seeing any Hall of Famers pitch for the Rangers in this series, as the well-traveled 247-game winner Bartolo Colon is not one of the pitching probables nor is the BBWAA likely to vote in someone with a positive PED test and suspension on his record. We will see one of the worst pitching staffs in all of baseball, however, as their team FIP of 4.73 is fourth-worst in MLB (their 4.96 ERA is third-worst). Offensively, this is the 14th-youngest average aged lineup in the Rangers’ history and 12th in MLB by wOBA (.320).
That lineup includes 39-year old Adrian Beltre (Players Weekend name: EL KOJA) and 35-year old Shin-Soo Choo (추신수), the latter of whom is having a big bounce back season following two lackluster and injury-hindered years. Beltre’s having his worst season since 2009, his final year in Seattle, but again, he’s 39 years old. A rebuilding team is apt to have such age extremes and fluctuating performances, but it’s important to note that the Rangers have scored 615 runs, which is the 5th-most in all of baseball. They’re still dangerous, even if they can’t pitch.
Pitcher to watch
Yovani Gallardo (YO) is 6-4 with a 3.21 ERA in 10 career starts against the Giants. I bet you didn’t even realize he was 1) still pitching and 2) on the Rangers. He actually signed with the Brewers in the offseason, was cut by them at the end of Spring Training, signed with the Reds, they cut him a couple of weeks later after he allowed 8 runs in 3 games (just 2.1 innings — zero starts), and then the Rangers picked him.
He’s been bad with the Rangers, too (34 earned runs allowed in 60 innings), but not nearly as bad as he’d been earlier in the year. Still, he hasn’t completed more than 6 innings since June 29th (against the dreadful White Sox) and hasn’t faced the Giants since August 6, 2014 (4 runs and 9 hits allowed in only 4 innings). He’s not the same pitcher who flustered the Giants for 6-7 years, but he’s also a major league pitcher, which is usually enough to fluster the 2018 Giants.
Hitter to watch
Joey Gallo (PICO DE GALLO) is a DH who moonlights as a first baseman sometimes but mostly as a left fielder, and the 24-year is by far the best hitter on this year’s Rangers team. Last year at 23, he hit 41 home runs. He’s at 33 so far this year. He’s as fearsome and as powerful as they come. Observe:
You might say Well, Bryan, you massive idiot, his supposed power potential will be completely erased by AT&T Park and he’ll be exposed as the limp .209 hitter he truly is.
Not so! The average exit velocity off his bat is 93.7 mph with an average exit velocity of 22.9 degrees. Anything over 95 mph and a 25 degree launch angle puts a ball into “high probability of a home run” territory. When he does make contact, there’s a very high chance he’s hitting a home run. He’s also third in all of baseball for number of barreled balls and #1 in barreled balls per batted ball event.
A quick reminder of what “barreled” means:
the average Barrel has produced a batting mark and a slugging percentage significantly higher than .500 and 1.500, respectively. During the 2016 regular season, balls assigned the Barreled classification had a batting average of .822 and a 2.386 slugging percentage.
To be Barreled, a batted ball requires an exit velocity of at least 98 mph.
That means only two other players in baseball have punished a baseball more and no other hitter does more damage by rate. Thing is, Gallo also strikes out 35% of the time. That’s why his rate is much higher. He just doesn’t have as many batted ball events. He’s a Three True Outcomes monster, and we get a front row seat. This will be the key matchup for Dereck Rodriguez tomorrow night.
Somewhere in the 4th-6th innings, we will watch Cory Gearrin (CEEGEE) come in with runners at first and third with one out and the Giants leading 4-0. Rather than give up a sac fly and then a double to allow both runners to score before getting out of the inning with his ERA unscathed, he will get the double play he needs to halt the Giants’ rally. His appearance will last 5-6 minutes despite facing only one batter. The Giants will lose that game 7-4. However, it will be the one game the Giants lose in the series.