Friday night, the Colorado Rockies scored five runs in the top of the ninth en route to a 7-4 victory over the San Francisco Giants, losers of four of their past five. I missed the game, but that shouldn’t stop anybody from reading up on what happened and watching the videos that will load for you. Reading the box scores can be deceiving, as beat writer Andrew Baggarly talked about Sergio Romo really not being the biggest problem last night. Similar sentiments were mentioned in Alex Pavlovic’s postgame notes. Back to the box score and seeing what I saw, I had wondered what was going on. Looking at the strikezone plot and watching some of the video, and reading the postgamers, this seems to be the level-headed thought:
For the people complaining about Romo: He’s allowed one legitimate hit this inning.
— Grant Brisbee (@mccoveychron) June 14, 2014
I mean, look how many pitches were actually in the strike zone, it’s not like there were a lot of fat pitches: Still, after a blown save is a perfect time to scour through the depths of the internet to find who doesn’t think Romo’s a closer. Maybe you clicked on this so you could find like-minded people. Perhaps you clicked to find people to avoid.
Smh didn’t watch the game last night and happy I didn’t. once again Romo proves I was right about him not being a closer. — Suazo (@LoveMyKailey) June 14, 2014
Trading for a closer would be expensive, but I don’t understand why Jean Machi would not be given a shot, or even giving Santiago Casilla a chance again wouldn’t be tried first. By then though, the trade deadline has probably come and gone. Heath Hembree probably wouldn’t be inserted just like that if called up.
As you probably know, bullpen ERA and a reliever’s ERA can depend on other pitchers, and ERA already isn’t the best measurement of pitcher effectiveness especially when you’re relying on your defense to help you out. Romo’s ERA last night went from 3.00 to 4.61. I don’t think that’s representative of the pitcher that Romo is, but this article is mostly about the people that do.
Gotta proofread your criticisms otherwise you come off troll-y.
Back to the ERA issue.
If you clicked the game log you probably noticed he had an earned run attached to his record in seven of his twenty-nine appearances. Only in two of those games that he had an ER attached to him in the box score the Giants lost.
Machi to close. Romo back to setup man. This is not working. You can’t have a closer with a 4.61 ERA. Make the move, Bochy. — 1UrbanEarring (@1UrbanEarring) June 14, 2014
I don’t think any change is being made, even if manager Bruce Bochy thought Romo wasn’t as sharp as he normally was. What was interesting was Romo thought he was good, just got beat that night.
I wonder who is considered a “shutdown arm.” Aroldis Chapman? Craig Kimbrel? Francisco Rodriguez? Steve Cishek? Glen Perkins? Joakim Soria? Greg Holland? Jonathan Papelbon?
Not making fun, just wondering who qualifies.
Romo is not a closer!!! Stop putting him in!!!! @SFGiantsFever
— Ross Sanchez (@_Ross_Sanchez_) June 14, 2014
That’s certainly not happening.
Romo is not a closer! He’s set up guy smh — Kenneth Calderon (@Ken_Calderon) June 14, 2014
At least people agree Sergio Romo belongs on a major league roster, I was worried I was going to find people wanting him gone.
I love Romo but I’ve always said he’s best as a specialist not a closer
— Steven Hennessy (@SHennessy1212) June 14, 2014
“Always” is a long time, and watching Romo succeed for all those years must have been stupefying for this guy.
You have to play championship defense to win ML games..Pagan loses concentration, but closer has big trouble with LHH..that’s a bigger issue — marty lurie (@baseballmarty) June 14, 2014
From what I understand, Marty is a big backer of the “Romo is a set-up guy” movement. Here are Romo’s numbers against LHH this year. They’re not as good as they normally are, but as we saw last night, that doesn’t mean Romo’s lost his effectiveness. Sometimes it’s just a bad night. Clearly though, as long as his ERA is high, there will be people calling for his job, whether you agree with them or not.
The numbers of Spring Training can lead to some rather misleading analysis, but if there is anything interesting that you can make out of Spring Training statistics, it is picking the stat you are finding in a player and asking, “What part of this might actually be real?” Some bullet points out of the numbers you’re seeing from Giants camp:
- If you’re looking at Sergio Romo, you know from the articles you’ve read that he’s been focusing on his fastball-changeup combo, not really his trademark no-dot slider. If there was a time to work on your secondary pitches, it’s during Spring Training. Bruce Bochy has said that Romo’s command has been a little off, which there are worse things to worry about in March, so I consider this a non-story. In the end, if hitters know to expect your inferior stuff, what do you imagine is going to go down?
- Speaking of going down, Michael Morse has a .167 batting average in his twelve Spring Training at bats, but surely you remember that he got robbed on two shots and apparently recently he was also stolen of a hit on a liner to right field. What you should be worried about Morse is his durability, not his bat. Word from Saturday was Morse was day-to-day, and the word on Sunday is Morse feels no more tightness in his calf.
- The legend of Mark Minicozzi, and I really recommend the Andrew Baggarly article on him. The journey that Minicozzi’s put together to chase the dream of being on the 25-man roster sounds like it could be made into a B-list movie if he were able to get promoted to AT&T if four of Marco Scutaro, Tony Abreu, Ahire Adriana, Joaquin Arias, or Joe Panik get injured. His fifteen at bats, two homers and .400 batting average are fun to dream on, but the reality in Minicozzi is he’s likely pretty far down the depth chart. Baggs notes he’s likely to start in Fresno.
- Madison Bumgarner, Tim Hudson, Tim Lincecum, and Matt Cain have a 0.00 ERA in a combined seven starts. If the Giants do really well in 2014, people may have their readers recall the Spring these guys were having. That’s all I got for that one.
More bullets to be added in later posts as the Spring progresses. Until then, let’s get ready for those two games today.
With the April that Sergio Romo was having, it was a good thing seeing that the Giants were winning more games than they were losing (15-12), but in as many wins the Giants had, that’s how many appearances Romo had as well. However, not every appearance would come in a save situation because otherwise Romo’s knee and elbow could have exploded at the same time from the overuse.
He had his good stuff in April, too: seventy-one percent strike rate, fifteen strikeouts, one walk, and only one home run given up (to Dioner Navarro of all people) on a windy Wrigley Field day. No outing went longer than twenty pitches, and Romo never had to pitch more than an inning. It can be pretty tempting to use your high leverage pitcher for more than one inning, but Bruce Bochy never did that, even in the couple of chances he had. The April 22nd-24th stretch of games is the only time this year Boch has used Romo three games in a row.
To adjust to his more frequent usage, Romo has prepared a new pitch to include in his repertoire, the cutter, and it probably thrills opponents that they have another pitch to look forward to. However, the cutter is probably what opponents would like to see most, as it has the least movement of all of his pitches.
So Romo stuck with pretty much the fastball-slider combo that got him to where he is, but after the whole world was getting to see him in April, he had to adjust. The changeup is in their heads, and the fastball certainly is, and you gotta believe the slider’s there as well. So you’re thinking movement, movement, movement then all of a sudden you get a pitch that doesn’t move (much) and there are going to be times when that works in Romo’s favor.
Transitioning back to the game log and turning the calendar page to May, and you’ll notice he’s only had eight appearances, although the K-BB is eight to two, no homers have been surrendered, but there has been a lower strike rate, this month’s at sixty-three percent.
The two times Romo has been used on consecutive days in May, the following day was a day off for the team. So with the fifteen games in April and the eight in May, this means through forty-eight games, Romo has made twenty-three appearances, putting him on pace to get into 77.625 games. I’m sure Boch is not going to try to use Romo in that many games this year, but it will be something to keep an eye on, and if Bochy selects Romo to the All Star game in July should his production hold, I’ll also be curious to see whether the young man will actually be used. We’ll save that conversation for later, if necessary.
If it seems like it’s been a while since the Giants won, and it’s true: Sunday was the last time. Today is Thursday, and the last two days in Toronto have been nightmares thanks to the defense and the pitching of the squad. Here are some GIFs that might make up a victory in the regular season.
But then Matt Cain started allowing dingerz and not catching breaks at the plate.
BUT THEN Brandon Crawford begins being the star of the show by hitting a bases clearing double with 2 outs in the 4th.
And then goes all Golden on the Rockies
The Giants would score some more runs, yada yada details, and then you bring in Sergio Romo to strike out Dexter Fowler just like the game started for the Rockies at bat.
Here’s some lovin between Marco Scutaro and Crawford
And those are some of the things that make for a Giants win. That feels good after two days of destruction and nearly happened again tonight after being down 6-0 at the end of 3. Eight straight runs to win a Thursday evening game? Yes, thank you! But less allowing runs to the other team, please.
Hot starts don’t necessarily dictate the results of May through October, because that’s only one month of baseball done, and even one month’s worth of goodies is a small sample size of information. Still, it’s not like it’s not fun to look at some of the numbers that were a little unexpected.
Win and Losses Division
The AL East really was, and still is anybody’s division to win, and so maybe Boston’s 18-8 record — and the best in baseball — shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. What is the bigger surprise can be found at the bottom of the division where the Toronto Blue Jays reside at 10-17. There are three teams with a worse record than that, two won’t surprise you, one may: Astros, Marlins, Angels.
Another unexpected positive performance has come from the NL West leading Colorado Rockies, and second place Kansas City are only a half game back of the 2012 AL Champs. Different league, but still the Central, the top four teams in the NLC are all within one game of each other.
Position Players Division
Surprising that Justin Upton has 12 homers? Probably not. Surprising that New York Mets catcher John Buck is tied for second with 9? Very! We always knew Chris Davis had power, just wondered if his contact rate would get in the way. You expected him to have more of a slash line like Anthony Rizzo than one like Bryce Harper.
This may not surprise you, but I did not think Carl Crawford would have as solid of an April as he’s had. 1.3 fWAR with a .390 wOBA, including 4 HR and SB. You do that every month and that gets you MVP votes.
Players in the bottom 15 of fWAR include players like Melky Cabrera (0 HR), Matt Kemp (84 wRC+), and Josh Hamilton (51 wRC+). I’m sure Melky’s place there doesn’t surprise the PED skeptics, but bottom 15 bad?
Starting Pitchers Division
Continuing with the bottom, it surprises me that two of the bottom seven fWAR performances belong to starters on the Giants staff, and neither of them are Barry Zito (Matt Cain, and Ryan Vogelsong). Brandon McCarthy may sport a horrible 7.48 ERA, but his 3.67 FIP is better than league average, and that 3.82 residual is pretty astounding for anybody.
In a shocking development, Stephen Strasburg and Jeff Samardzija‘s 1-4 W-L record may not tell you that they’ve actually done quite alright for their team, it’s just, you know, that whole run support thing.
Sergio Romo, Jason Grilli, Mariano Rivera, and Jim Johnson may have ten saves, but your leader for relievers in fWAR is James Russell of the Cubs and Craig Kimbrel, Matt Belisle, and four others at 0.6.
Speaking of Sergio, no “closer” has been brought into more games than him. 15. Brad Ziegler leads in appearances with 17. That’s a pretty healthy dose of usage early on.
I know John Axford was on the decline, but that 8 ERA and 7 FIP are more of a fall from grace than just a “decline.”
If you added Brandon League and Huston Street‘s K% (I know it doesn’t work like that, but work with me here), it would be 20.0%. Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Bailey, and Greg Holland would still have more than double that K%.
So there are some of your surprises from this month, definitely varying on the spectrum of surprisability, but those are some of the things that got my attention. What surprised you this month?
There being 162 games in the season, 16 games in seems like a fine place to check in with 10% of the regular season finding its box checked by the Giants. The Giants are 9-7 after getting swept by Milwaukee, but I can’t say that these last three games speak to what we’ve seen out of this team so far. They’ll be in second or third in the NL West depending on how Arizona does tonight against the Yankees tonight, and I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t concerned if they had the record of the Marlins (3-12), but the record you have today shouldn’t be a predictor of where you finish.
Baseball Reference won’t have all sixteen games until tomorrow, but this is what the Giants season has looked like so far:
More of the “W” than the “L,” and have swept the division leading Colorado Rockies (what year is this?). Sure, the Giants are suffering their longest losing streak since the end of July last year, but I think they just needed to get out of Miller Park. There may be some obvious stars and goats from this first ten percent of the season, but there are also some legitimate questions for each player we look forward to see being played out.
Some of the Heroes
Brandon Crawford is always known for his defense, but have you noticed his productive start at the dish? How about a very handsome .352/.435/.593 line, tied for first in fWAR with Justin Upton at 1.3, so his value isn’t only coming with the glove. Crawford’s fWAR last season? 1.7.
Barry Zito didn’t have a very productive third start in Milwaukee, but then again, anyone who pitched there wished their day went a little bit better. Being a contributor with his pitch hand and his bat, Zito was a welcome surprise, continuing his postseason success with two straight starts with his defense helping him to two victories.
Sergio Romo had been called on to work in a eight of twelve game stretch, which is plenty of games for any reliever and wouldn’t bode well if that’s the rate at which he was being used when worrying bout fatigue. A 41.4% strikeout rate with no walks is pretty incredible work so far, and to have the guy that comes into the 9th inning not walk anybody saves all of us a few years of our lives.
Some of the Goats
Brandon Belt is the obvious choice for the guy that’s having the slowest start. His .214 BABIP has kept his hit count low, despite the line drives we’ve seen him hit. His nine hits in fifty-nine plate appearances don’t look stomach pleasing, and Nick Noonan is actually catching up to him in hits since the rookie already has seven himself. The ropes Belt’s hitting right now aren’t finding the ground, maybe it’s me being an apologist for him, but I gotta believe he’s close.
Tim Lincecum‘s struggles continue, and while Hector Sanchez did cost Lincecum strikes in his first start with his framing abilities, Timmy has not been helping his batterymate out with his lack of control. It’s amazing that a) he has gone at least five innings in each start, and b) the team has won each of the three games he’s started. His walk count in his three starts have gone from 7 to 4 to 1, so that is encouraging.
George Kontos is my choice from the reliever corps, though it’s not like it’s a runaway. His 15.2% left on base rate is pre-tttty low, and that will go up as the season goes, and his Opening Day homer to Clayton Kershaw still burns in my brain. He is not a question mark for me, just not a hot start.
Some of the Questions
How real is this personal catcher situation? Last year, we experienced the Hector Sanchez-Tim Lincecum experiment with Buster Posey at 1B. With Guillermo Quiroz getting a hit today, now the question is if he is being auditioned to take Sanchez’s spot. Also of note, since Posey got a day off today in a day game after a night game, might that set him up for catching #55 on Saturday? While Hector has given the team a better walk rate recently, his bat is not the answer.
Speaking of Posey, what the heck’s going on with the 2012 MVP? One more hit than Belt, and a slash line that you’d expect more out of 2011 Brandon Crawford than 2013 Posey. Articles on him suggest it’s just a slow start, that he’s feeling fine. If he’s feeling fine, I’m not worried about him catching back on. Same goes for Matt Cain.
When does Heath Hembree get the call-up? I believe it was Pavs that said when the Giants call him up, the Giants want it to be for good. When it comes to that, you’ll see MLB teams calling their prospects up in June so that they may hold on to their players for an extra year.
What the Chad Gaudin? I know, right? He’s been surprisingly better than decent, but has been used in more low leverage situations than in a situation you might see Santiago Casilla or Kontos showing up in. It will be interesting to see how aggressive the Giants are with Gaudin as the year goes on, especially when Gaudin regresses.
What to look forward to
How about five straight series with NL West opponents? Padres, D-Backs, @ Padres, @ D-Backs, Dodgers that will carry us into May, all of these sets lasting three games a piece. Arizona gets to have six straight series with NL West opponents, so that should be fun for them.
The Giants, students of the comeback for some of their victories, are indeed lucky to be where they are, but the record is probably around what you might have expected out of them. You cannot win the division in April, but so far, they are not losing it.
Looking forward to more of those.
Sergio Romo came in with a run lead, and after Josh Rutledge doubled, nearly homered really, Romo dealt with a few purple and black colored jerseys in his 9th inning adventure. Strap on your seat belts and let’s go for a ride.
Chris Nelson, you have two strikes on you, what are your thoughts on Sergio Romo?
Ah. I see. Fascinating.
Todd Helton, maybe you can see Romo’s fastball, but what of this strike zone?
Yea, tough break, my man. Sorry about that. Human error, though.
Eesh. Big human error.
Wilin Rosario, wanna guess which pitch is coming?
Dang, wrong guess. Well, 50-50 pretty much, right?
Giants outfielders, will you jump in an awkward style to confirm your opinion on Sergio Romo’s goodness?
Yes, I thought so. Very good, very good.