N.L. West Prediction: San Francisco Giants

The game’s next great pitcher could be in San Francisco. The game’s next great team is not.

I really like Logan Webb. Sure he’s a NorCal kid and I’ve had the opportunity to talk with him at length, but beyond that I love how he competes. He reminds me a lot of former San Francisco Giants great Matt Cain. There’s a high-octane fastball and good breaking stuff. He moves the ball around and doesn’t seem to get too high or too low regardless of how the game is going. The question is who’s going to pitch on days two, three, four and five? Johnny Cueto will look amazing today and again maybe in five days or maybe five days after that. But he’ll sandwich that outing in between two five-runs-in-four-innings affairs. And then he’ll get hurt and he’ll be gone for the last half of the season. I love his creativity and I love the different arm angles and the shimmy and the shake but the guy just can’t stay healthy. Kevin Gausman had a really good year last year (3.62 ERA in 12 starts). The Giants are lucky it’s the beginning of a trend. If they’re not he returns to his previous form and an ERA in the low fours. That still makes him a viable number five starter. Same goes for Anthony Devascini, (Editors note: Devascini? Thanks auto correct. How about Anthony DeSclafani. Apologies to DeSclafanis everywhere) only he was terrible last year. I won’t say how bad an ERA it was, but it was more than halfway to a dozen

Jake McGee (3.56 career ERA) is a solid bullpen presence. So is Jose Alvarez. Look for manager Gabe Kapler to overuse both of them. Submariner Tyler Rogers gave up a run in every other inning last year and gave up a run once every nine the year before that. No telling what he’ll do this year. Same lack of predictability for Jarlin Garcia. If Matt Wisler is still with the team by June, I’ll be amazed. He has not been good anywhere he’s been. Maybe his mother can post an ERA under 5.00 (Painting humor kills. Ask any comic). Wandy Peralta was great in the Covid year and in 2017. In other years: ERAs over 5.00. Caleb Barager was good in his rookie season (4.03 ERA). Does he stay good?

At the plate, the Giants once again send shortstop Brandon Crawford, first baseman Brandon Belt and third baseman Evan Longoria to the plate and welcome the return of catcher Buster Posey. After Posey’s hip issues from two years ago and his sitting out last year with twins, he could be up for a comeback player of the year. A couple of bombs in spring training may have been early indicators that the power he had lost has returned. It’s a good reminder for all you dad/coaches out there how important the bottom half is in the baseball swing.

Injuries have been a big story in San Francisco for the last several years. Belt has been an All-Star but is rarely able to finish off an entire season without getting hurt… or going through a gruesome slump. Crawford still plays a smooth short stop but I’ve never thought he was particularly great range-wise and age won’t help that. And then there’s Longoria, who once seemed destined for many many All-Star games. Injuries also have hampered his career greatly.

I think Posey is going to have a big year. And I think Mike Yastrzemski will also continue with one of the greatest grandfather/grandson stories in baseball history. He really just does everything well. In the outfield Austin Slater looked like a possible future corner stone of the franchise in 2020. He hit .282 but it’s not enough of a sample size to really know how he’s going to do, considering the previous year he hit 42 points worse. Alex Dickerson has 28 home runs and 96 RBIs in 606 career plate appearances. His problem -like so many other Giants- has been in avoiding injury. Can he play every day? Donovan Solano gives them needed depth in the infield and he’s a career .277 hitter. Darin Ruf does a little bit of everything and gives them depth in the outfield.

On paper this looks like a decent team and if they can all actually make it to the ball park to play they should be. But there are too many injury questions for me to have much faith at this point. The good news for Giants fans is the farm system seems to be well stocked. If the old guys can stay on the field and or the young guys come up and produce then they might top .500.

As it is, this looks like a 73 WIN club

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