With the MLB season suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak, there are no baseball games and limited baseball news. So I’m creating a hypothetical season — complete with news and recaps — until baseball resumes. All news and recaps will have the hypothetical tag, so you can at least know when you’re suspending reality. And you can click “hypothetical season” above the headline to see everything that has happened in this “season.”
If you’re a good San Francisco Giants fan — and I know you are — then there’s a decent chance you’re not super familiar with many of the key players in the American League. They play a silly brand of baseball over there, admittedly, and the Giants play 162 games a year, which is more than 500 hours of baseball.
You may not have time for 163 games, let alone in a silly league with silly rules.
So you may not be familiar with José Berríos, and how good he is.
Well, now you are.
Tuesday’s game, in which Berríos dispatched the Giants with about as much trouble as a rich kid getting into college with someone else’s SAT scores, was not an aberration. That’s Berríos’ game. Last yer — his second All-Star campaign despite being just his age-25 season — Berríos had a 3.85 FIP, a 124 ERA+, and 8.8 strikeouts per nine innings. He was worth 4.4 Wins Above Replacement, per Fangraphs.
What I’m trying to do here is a common PR tactic in which I try to make you think that the Giants futility wasn’t actually their fault, so you don’t feel pessimistic (and, in the process, if I can distract you from the fact that the Giants selected Chris Stratton 12 picks ahead of Berríos, then that’s great). The Giants offense, of course, is futile, but today let’s give the full credit to Berríos, who really is that good.
Long story short, the Giants put up just 1 run (on a Brandon Belt RBI single) on Berríos, who allowed only 6 hits and 2 walks in 7 innings of work, striking out 9.
Drew Smyly was not as good as José Berríos, which is understandable, because, on the whole, Drew Smyly is not as good as José Berríos. Sometimes baseball works like that, and the better players play better and the better teams play better. Weird, I know.
Smyly went just 5.2 innings, allowing 4 runs (3 earned), and generally doing his best Barry Zito or Kirk Rueter impression, which is to say being good enough to stay in the game, and being bad enough to not be good. That beautiful sweet spot.
As such, it never really felt like the Giants were in the game, even though they never were really out of it. They lost 4-1, which isn’t a big enough deficit that you should feel like a team is out of it until the very end, and yet, you did, long before the very end.
But there is good news: Brothers Tyler Rogers (Giants) and Taylor Rogers (Twins) both played in a professional game together for the first time. What a cool moment for their family, which was obviously in attendance. They also both pitched scoreless innings, so that’s good. And if you’re that not-used-to-the-AL person I described above, you might have been shocked to learn that Taylor has pretty conventional pitching mechanics.
Even in the darkness of a not-good baseball game, we get happy stories. The happiest being that the Giants can try to win tomorrow.
For now, they’re 15-21. It could be worse. It could also be better.
Ain’t that the 2020 Giants for you.