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Pitching storylines for the rest of the season

Let’s give the Giants something to play for.

San Francisco Giants v Colorado Rockies Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

I’m a writer by trade but a television writer by study; therefore, I tend to look at the season episodically with a cast of characters moving the story along. For whatever reason, Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, and Johnny Cueto had to be written out of the show late in the season (maybe they’re shooting movies?), so we’re left with the cast of supporting characters and one other lead the writers haven’t had a good storyline for in a while (talking about Bumgarner here).

So, let’s be a bunch of good freelancers and pitch out some stories for the show (::cough:: team) and help create some episodes we’d like to see in the final month of the 2018 season. Here are mine... below, I encourage you to add your own.

Austin Slater figures out what kind of a player he’s going to be.

Last month, I wrote that he represented the Giants’ platonic idea of a baseball player. A hard-nosed, all-contact hitter with the ability to go the other way. He’s managed to keep his on base percentage (OBP) above .360 since playing regularly, but it’s that danged sub-.400 slugging percentage that really sticks out.

Any interesting part of that idea:

But, yeah, his groundball rate is around 63%. Let’s round up and say that 23 of the time, Austin Slater puts the ball in play on the ground. That’s... you know, that’s not all that great. Our esteemed minor league guru Roger Munter considers him to be a bench bat in the future and through 188 plate appearances this season, I think I’m seeing his point.

Maybe Austin Slater doesn’t want to be a bench bat, though. Maybe he thinks he’s a Gorkys Hernandez-level starter (a starter for a second division team). Well... it sure would be nice if he could mix in some doubles or home runs. It’s not impossible, but it might mean changing up his approach a bit, which might go against the approach that brought him this modicum of success and interest by the Giants at all. Still, down the stretch, it’ll be interesting to see how Slater adjusts his game — by the sheer volume of injuries, he’s a key part of this lineup for the next 18 games.

Somebody gets to 18 home runs.

Evan Longoria and Gorkys Hernandez have 15 each and Brandon Belt has 14. I know Belt only has one good knee to work with, but he still hit a ball with an exit velocity of 100.0 mph in Sunday’s Milwaukee finale, and that’s after coming in as an injury sub. It’s not impossible for him to hit 4 more home runs.

Meanwhile, it’s up to Evan and Gorkys, a duo we never thought we’d see. Look, we’re still bargaining here. Belt’s start to the season and Andrew McCutchen’s presence on the team gave us a faint glimmer of hope that this team might actually get a 25 home run hitter. And then, maybe, a 20 home run hitter. But can we just get to 18? It means nothing, but it’s a goal, and in a season with no more goal posts in place, why not create some of your own?

Aramis Garcia takes control of his destiny.

Wouldn’t it be something if a struggling catcher from Triple-A came up and made career journeyman backup Nick Hundley an after thought? He hit two home runs in his first major league games and if you watch him at the plate, he looks pretty comfortable up there. He looks like he could blossom into a quality backup. Who says it needs to take several years for that to happen? Why not just establish himself now?

Another point in his favor: he can throw out base stealers.

Chris Stratton pitches one more scoreless start.

Stratton pitched 8 shutout innings only a few starts ago and it would be good for him if he could have one more similarly solid start to end the season. I don’t think we expect him to be a rotation cog over the next several years, but it’s better he ends on a high note because he will be counted on to shore up the back of the rotation for at least one more season.

Evan Longoria gets his OBP over .300.

He’s a veteran and it would be shocking if he didn’t. It would also raise the DECLINE flag so prominently that we’ll have to suffer through “Evan Longoria is in the best shape of his life” / “Evan Longoria is not in decline” / “Evan Longoria is ready to battle his critics” articles all offseason and through Spring Training and, really, do any of us want that?