The Giants could be in first place in the NL Wild Card Sunday. Let that sink in a bit. Technically, they would be tied with Colorado, but that's still borderline incomprehensible after last weekend.
While the Rockies were fumbling their chance to legitimize the divisional race, San Francisco gained a game on the Colorado by eeking out two one-run wins and getting blasted in one game against the Diamondbacks. With the Rockies on the home docket so soon after three very frustrating losses, the Giants surely have retribution freshly in their minds.
Luckily for them, they have their top three pitchers going in the series. Then consider that the Rockies' two hottest hitters this month - Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez - will both miss some if not all of the series with injuries. That means the demoralization Colorado dealt the Giants last weekend is in danger of being completely wiped out with a possible sweep at AT&T Park this weekend, where the Giants' 41-21 mark is just a half game being Tampa Bay and Boston for the best home field advantage in MLB.
Fortunately, it's not all bad. San Francisco's hottest hitters of late - and their 3 and 4 hitters - were both relegated to pinch-hit duty for the entirety of the Arizona series, and their status will likely be the same for at least tonight's game. In addition, Freddy Sanchez was officially placed on the 15-day Tuesday after spending a week inactive on the bench, leaving the Giants' horrible offense without three of its top weapons.
The Rockies counter Bruce Bochy's Linceum/Zito/Cain triumverate with Ubaldo Jimenez, who Jayson Stark says has "the best stuff in baseball," the ultimate WINNAR Jason Marquis, who Tim Kurkjian gave some love to this morning, and the Road Warrior Jason Hammel.
Should be a competitive series.
Rather than putting virtually the same scouting information in KYF as last Friday, I'll refer you to last week's preview for any seemingly incomplete grading rationalization.
If you care to engage with Giants fans, enjoy: McCovey Chronicles. Here is their series preview.
San Francisco Giants (69-59, L1, 3rd, 3 GB WC, 7 GB Div)
Friday-Sunday: 3-game series at AT&T Park
The Bats: F
The lineup will feature Juan Uribe and Eli Whiteside tonight most likely, but since both Molina and Sandoval are expected back Saturday, I'll leave them in the lineup. Nothing has really changed from last Friday - they still have the 2nd worst wOBA in the league at .304, better than Cincy by the slimmest of margins. I had not noticed this post before and it is now two weeks old, but most of the points hold true. A fanpost at MCC shows the Giants are by far and away the most undisciplined offensive team as well as one of the worst. Given their injury losses for tonight's game, the official loss of Sanchez and the move to AT&T, I downgraded their offense to an F.
|Eugenio Velez - 2B||.276||3||16||.308||.402||.313|
|Randy Winn - LF||.268||2||46||.320||.369||.306|
|Pablo Sandoval - 3B||.331||19||73||.380||.553||.390|
|Bengie Molina - C||.263||16
|Ryan Garko - 1B||.271||13||51||.344||.436||.342|
Aaron Rowand - CF
|Nate Schierholtz - RF||.278||5||26||.311||.422||.312|
|Edgar Renteria - SS||.261||3||42||.318||.330||.288|
By wOBA metrics, the lineup features one All-Star caliber players (Sandoval), one above average hitter (Garko), one slightly above average hitters (Rowand), two about average hitters (Winn, Schierholtz, Velez and Molina), and one that is just flat out bad (Renteria).
Juan Uribe (.267, 8, 31) is the utility infielder and Travis Ishikawa (.262, 9, 35) is back on the roster to spell Garko. IF Ryan Rohlinger (0-for-5) is now on the bench with Sanchez on the shelf. Fred Lewis (.268, 4, 16) is the lone backup OF though Velez can slide to LF if necessary. Rookie Eli Whiteside (.229, 1, 7) is Molina's backup catcher. As for tonight, Winn will likely be in the 3-hole, while Garko, Schierholtz and Ishikawa have each had their try at the cleanup spot.
Hop after the jump for the scouting report on the arms, the D, the pitching matchups, injuries and the hot/cold players.
The Arms: A
It would be difficult to find a trio of pitchers a team would least like to face right now. Lincecum and Cain were no-brainer All-Stars and Barry Zito continued his recent resurgence against Colorado Monday. The Giants rank in the top three in just about ever pitching category there is - impressive given they don't get a benefit from the home park.
|2009 - Brian Wilson||5-5||55||0||0||0||30||6||60.0||50||25||20||2||24||67||3.00||1.23|
The bullpen composition hasn't changed . After Wilson,there's Jeremy Affeldt, Sergio Romo, Bob Howry, Merkin Valdez, Justin Miller and Brandon Medders.
The D: B+
The Giants have MLB 2nd best UZR/150 helping Fangraphs to rate San Francisco's defense as #2 in MLB. Putting Velez in at 2B is a downgrade from their season average though.
The Ballpark: Hitter's Park
AT&T being a pitcher's park is one of MLB's greater myths. It has a multi-year park factor of 102, while this year it is 103/104. For comparison, Coors Field is 105/106. So AT&T is roughly halfway as advantageous for hitters as Coors. The myth has some legs though. It completely drowns home runs (factor of 86.1 for HR/FB), though it inflates triples by an even larger margin. The park has also been advantageous for singles and doubles.
Tonight, 8:15 pm MDT
|2009 - Ubaldo Jimenez||12-9||26||26||1||0||0||0||174.1||146||67||65||9||66||154||3.36||1.22|
|2009 - Tim Lincecum||12-4||27||26||4||2||0||0||185.1||142||57||50||8||51||214||2.43||1.04|
Dueling aces part deux. As amoeba recently pointed out, Jimenez has obliterated the franchise record for consecutive 6+ inning starts. You know all the awesomeness that is Timmy, but the Giants are just 3-6 in his starts vs the Rockies in his career, 1-2 at AT&T Park. He also has a seasonlong four game winless streak. Okay, it's mostly not his fault, but it's still true. The Giants are -130 favorites in Vegas. I'll just let the two young arms do the rest of the talking. Favors: GIANTS by the slimmest of margins, slimmer than Timmy's frame
Saturday, August 29, 7:05 MDT
|2009 - Jason Marquis||14-8||28||25||2||1||0||0||171.1||163||72||66||11||54||84||3.47||1.27|
|2009 - Barry Zito||8-11||27||26||1||0||0||0||154.0||142||72||70||16||62||118||4.09||1.32|
|2009 - Jason Hammel||8-7||26||23||1||0||0||0||132.0||165||73||65||12||33||91||4.43||1.50|
|2009 - Matt Cain||12-4||26||26||4||0||0||0||177.1||143||50||47||17||61||133||2.39||1.15|
The Giants are hurt but didn't fall apart after a heartbreaking series at Coors. The Giants have a glimmer of hope with a strong showing this weekend, but if the Rockies manage to win the series, it would not only push the lead further but would also result in the likely implosion of McCovey Chronicles, if not the Giants' psyche. To do this, Colorado absolutely must win Saturday and hope to steal one from Cain or Lincecum with help of their injured bats. I suspect the Rockies will manage only one win, which would pull the Giants back to within two games - right where we were before last weekend's series at Coors.
Bengie Molina is 6 of his last 18 and Pablo Sandoval is 5 for his last 14, while both have a homer, two doubles and two walks on that streak. Of course, both are out of the lineup tonight.
Nate Schierholtz' HR off Jorge de la Rosa Saturday represents his only hit in his past 24 ABs. Juan Uribe has just one single in his last 20 ABs, but he has 2 HR too. Ryan Garko and Travis Ishikawa are both only 4 for their last 17.
Freddy Sanchez was finally put on the 15-day DL Tuesday after a week of inactivity. Andres Torres (hamstring - 7/31) and Rich Aurilia (ankle - 8/12) join him on the 15-day DL. Aurilia is apparently ready to play, but the Giants have yet to activate him. Noah Lowry (ribs) has been on the 60 day DL since at least Opening Week, and P Kelvin Pichardo (shoulder - 6/28), Randy Johnson (trapezius - 7/6) and Henry Sosa (shoulder - 8/5) are now keeping him company. Bengie Molina (tight quad) and Pablo Sandoval (tight calf, flu) are questionable for tonight's game and likely won't start but are available to come into the game if it needed.