Bumgarner’s Injury Reveals Just How Odorous The Giants Are
The 2017 San Francisco Giants stink.
The smell is a combination of banana-laden compost and that old meat-packing material stuck to the Styrofoam tray. And, it’s been around for awhile.
For some people, dating back to last year, a twice-weekly application of “Madison Bumgarner by Mennen” had been enough to cover up the stench. But with the big lefty out with a dirt bike injury, the team has fallen into the bottom of the garbage bin of despair: dead last in the National League West and second-worst record in all of baseball.
In the first half of 2017, the club is 22 games under .500.
Bright spots have been a six-game winning streak and news that injured starting pitcher Bumgarner’s left shoulder appeared live and in person at a Modesto Nuts game.
There a host of problems. So far this year, the Gigantes are pequenos. The team doesn’t put men on base and doesn’t have anyone besides Buster Posey who is healthy and who can scare opposing pitchers. They are tied for last in on-base percentage plus slugging percentage.
Though it is startling to see the recent three-time world champions wallowing at the bottom of the National League West, the demise began last year amid a nose dive to end the season. At the time, it was easy to note the high-flammability quotient of the bullpen and its flaming heap of 29 blown saves.
Team management should get credit. They acted. Sergio Romo and his goat-beard are gone, though he didn’t have a blown save in the second half of 2016. Santiago Casilla and his five blown saves in the second half are also gone.
They brought in Mark Melancon. Last year he was Magic Mark- phenomenal with the Pirates (1.51 ERA) and Washington (1.85 ERA). This year? Try, Melanconly. His numbers are virtually identical to Casilla’s second half of 2016.
But, surely the Giants could rely on solid starting pitching?
Not so much.
Unlike last year, the team’s starters have been dreadful: next to last in batting average against and a slew of earned-run-averages over 5.00.
Johnny Cueto was great last year and gave fans hope early this year. But, blisters have been a concern and, in the last month, he isn’t fooling anyone: 4.99 ERA.
Matt Moore has allowed 166 walks and hits in 98 innings. That kind of work is worth the ERA of 6.00-plus he has.
Jeff Samardzija’s efforts yield two results: strikeouts or hits. He’s not walking anyone, but he’s not missing as many bats as he needs to, either. ERA: 4.58.
And then there’s Matt Cain, who is still trying to return from injury and is fine at home: 2.99 ERA according to mlb.com. But his road ERA is five runs per game worse.
That said, it’s quite something to realize just how much Bumgarner means to this club. He -sans dirt bike accident- would probably be enough to have the Giants at least looking respectable. Without his usual performance on the mound and his offensive production at the plate, he probably cost the team eight wins in games he gets a decision, plus another two when he leaves with a tie. (Even with Bumgarner, they were 0-3 in four starts with a 3.00 ERA before he got hurt. So who knows?) So, for the sake of argument, add 10 wins to a team 22 games under .500 and you have a team 44-46 at the break and Giants fans talking about a second-half run.
But he wasn’t, and they didn’t and they won’t.
The point is, some long-lingering problems are still there. First baseman Brandon Belt is still a threat to walk at any time, but can’t beat the defensive shift or an inside fastball. Brandon Crawford still can’t hit big league pitching early in the year, but may get hot as the opposing team’s arm talent weakens in the later stages of summer. Outfielder Hunter Pence may twitch before he hits, but he can’t shake hamstring problems. Infielder Eduardo Nunez has been solid, but is also out with a hammy. And then there’s the matter of stringing two or three hits together. Did I mention they are 27th in runs-batted-in?
So, what are the bright spots to look forward to? All-star catcher, Buster Posey, though he wears down in the second half in recent years. Austin Slater, though he wore out his groin in the first half. The bullpen, maybe, and, of course, the return of Madison Bumgarner.
Best-case scenario? Four Giants hitters get hot at the same time, the starters pitch better and, hamstrings stop popping like popcorn at the movies on Friday night.
Likely? Occasional bouts of averageness, continued health issues, lack of depth in the lineup, still 22 games under .500 at the end of the year.
No matter how much deoderant Bumgarner brings to the club as he and his shoulder return, there’s no denying that odor.
The Giants stink.