Giants

Giants playoffs: Sizing up Reds, Nats pitching rotations

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Giants playoffs: Sizing up Reds, Nats pitching rotations

We are, and youll forgive the conclusion-jumping just this once, growing perilously close to the dream scenario Giants fanhistorians have had for a decade.Trying to beat Dusty Baker in the playoffs. And him trying to beat the Giants.Either that, or the Giants will become the first team to test the new and as-yet-unproven Disappearing Strasburg Effect.But first, your required caveat. This NL West thing is not yet over, you are wrong to think it is, and if you say it where someone else can hear you, may you be struck with a fully-loaded beer stein while in church.That said, the locals widened their lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers to a healthy six full games the equivalent of having a weeks head start in a three-week race. This would seem to eliminate the need for further Should-We-Make-Lincecum-The-Closer-Or-Just-Shoot-Him-And-Be-Done-With-It scenarios.It would also eliminate facing the wild-card winner, which for the moment looks like Atlanta-vs.-Somebody. That leaves only two options for playoff openers. The De-Strasburged Washingtons, or the Re-Vottod Cincinnatis.And the Giants are 3-9 against the Nats and Bakers, so pace at your will.Cincinnati is about to clinch the Central, being up 10 on St. Louis and all, and Washington has 7 on Atlanta. Thus, if you must assume the Giants are in (duck!), you must also assume the others are in as well. And that the Giants cant catch either of them. Very tenuous stuff, this assuming thing, but were writing today and not a week from now, so play along, damn it.RELATED: MLB Wild Card standings
Thus, the real race now is to see whether the Nationals or Reds finish with the best record and draw the wild-card winner, which will come from a field that surely includes Atlanta and could also field St. Louis, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and maybe even the resurgent Philadelphia or Milwaukee. Arizona is only five back, but its hard to extend the spirit of hope and charity that deep into the standings.But lets return to the local issue (well get to the Fightin McCarthys across the Bay tomorrow). Whether the Giants would rather face a team without Stephen Strasburg or with Dusty Baker.And now, lets project.Assuming that neither Bruce Bochy (who never does), Davey Johnson nor Baker changes their rotation between now and the playoffs, they would send this group of starters in this order:WASHINGTON
Ross Detwiler (9-6, 3.23): Years from now, youll ask yourself, Who was their fourth starter? You wont remember the answer.

Edwin Jackson (9-10, 3.85): Has the worst WHIP, and its a very tolerable 1.21.

Gio Gonzalez (19-7, 2.93): Worth every dime the As would never have paid him.

Jordan Zimmermann (10-8, 3.01): The example the Nationals use when defending the Strasburg move. Hes good.CINCINNATI
Homer Bailey (10-9, 4.03): Most likely to be dropped, in favor of Mike Leake (8-9, 4.69).

Bronson Arroyo (12-7, 3.66): Nasty when aroused. It means hes a good pitcher, but I wanted to see if you were paying attention.

Johnny Cueto (17-8, 2.71): Their best.

Mat Latos (12-4, 3.72): A beloved favorite of Giant fans, beat them twice this year.

SAN FRANCISCO
Madison Bumgarner
Tim Lincecum
Matt Cain
Barry Zito or Ryan VogelsongYou dont need the stats. Youve memorized them. And youre allowed to argue Zito-Vogelsong until youre blue in the mouth. Just watch those steins.But this would mean that Game 3 would feature the best pitching matchups, and we cannot guarantee that the three teams might not take the extra days between clinching and the playoff openers October 6 or 7 to realign their rotations.Oh, youll still get Cain v. Cueto or Cain v. Gonzalez (or Strasburg, if Washington general manager Mike Rizzo can convince Scott Boras to vacation in the bottom of the Sargasso Sea for a month), but just earlier.Either way, it looks like the Giants will be playing against a team that has had its way with them while they had Webmaster Melky Cabrera in the lineup.And Dusty Baker there to bring up all the good and weird history that was the Giants of the 90s and early Oughts. So many laughs. So many tears. So many lies, and so many lies to cover up the original lies. Playoff baseball at its finest.And in the meantime, so many variables, so much pre-series nonsense, and so much Web space to fill. In all, life is good, as long as nobody is menacing you with a stein.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

Matt Moore blanks Rockies, continues late-season surge

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AP

Matt Moore blanks Rockies, continues late-season surge

SAN FRANCISCO — Matt Moore knew there was something different about his final home start at AT&T Park this season, and not just the fact that he received a loud ovation as he walked off the mound in the seventh. Moore noted later that the outing was the first shutout he has been a part of this year. In fact, it was the first time in 30 starts that he walked off the mound without having allowed a run. 

“I guess it’s better late than never,” he said. 

The Giants are hoping it’s actually a preview of things to come. They counted on Moore to be a big part of their 2017 push, but instead, he likely will finish with the worst ERA of any full-time starter in the National League. Still, general manager Bobby Evans has informed Moore that his 2018 option will be picked up, something that Moore appreciated given the time of year. 

“I always pictured myself here,” he said. 

Whether coincidence or some kind of “weight off the shoulders” situation, Moore’s first start since the public revealing of the decision was his most encouraging of the year. Facing a good lineup, and a team that needed a win desperately, he pitched six shutout innings. The Giants beat the Rockies 4-0. 

Moore was already showing signs of life, with a 3.76 ERA over his seven previous appearances. Bruce Bochy viewed this as another step forward. 

“It’s been getting better and better with each start,” he said. “What he did really well today was on the arm side. He had good balance to both sides of the plate.”

Moore peppered the outside corner with fastballs, and he credited catcher Nick Hundley with stealing a few strikes. The plan allowed Moore to put hitters away in big spots, one of three points of emphasis he brought into the second half. The other two: limiting lefties and getting ahead of hitters.

That’s Moore’s roadmap back to being the player the Giants acquired. For the team as a whole, the roadmap back to relevance is similar to Wednesday’s plan. This is not a home-run hitting lineup, but the Giants are 47-21 when scoring four runs, and Wednesday was a reminder of the different paths to that magical number. 

Brandon Crawford had a solo homer, but the first two runs came on sacrifice flies and the fourth on a walk-wild pitch-single combination. Bochy said he liked “the brand of ball” his team played.

“They executed so well today,” he said. “It’s just good baseball, and that’s what I felt good about.”

Doing due diligence, Giants send Evans, Shelley to scout Shohei Otani in Japan

Doing due diligence, Giants send Evans, Shelley to scout Shohei Otani in Japan

SAN FRANCISCO — A couple of weeks ago, a Giants official expressed amazement about how little was known about the desires of Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani.

“Teams know just about as much as you guys (in the media),” he said. 

The Giants are hoping that changes this week. General manager Bobby Evans and assistant GM Jeremy Shelley have traveled to Japan to take a look at the 23-year-old, who reportedly will come over to play in Major League Baseball next season. 

“There’s going to be a lot of attention on him and it’s part of the scouting process every club goes through,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s doing our due diligence, as you say.”

Otani is a rare prospect, a potential ace on the mound and lineup-altering bat in the outfield. He has 47 homers in just over 1,000 professional at-bats, and this season he’s batting .341. As a hard-throwing pitcher with a wipeout breaking ball, Otani has a 2.57 career ERA for the Nippon Ham Fighters. He had a 1.86 ERA last season with 174 strikeouts in 140 innings. 

Because he’s said to be coming over at such a young age, Otani will sacrifice the chance to sign a massive contract. The CBA limits him to collecting money from a team’s international bonus pool, and the Giants are limited to $300,000. Still, some other big-market teams are in the same boat, and despite their lack of pool money and poor season, the Giants surely believe they have plenty to offer. 

It’s not known what Otani is looking for, but perhaps he wants to play in a big city to make up some of his lost earnings? Perhaps he wants to play on the West Coast, closer to his home country, or in a region with a big Japanese population? Perhaps he’s just a big Buster Posey fan? The Giants intend to find out, and to be in the bidding. 

It’s possible that Otani has seen the way Bochy uses Madison Bumgarner as a pinch-hitter, but Bochy said he can’t imagine using a true two-way player. 

“I don’t think it would work,” he said. “You’re talking more of something that might work in the American League. That’s a lot of throwing and wear-and-tear.”