Mac is back.
Many San Francisco Giants fans will revel in the news that Mac Williamson has been called up from Triple-A Sacramento. They’ve been calling for that for weeks.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is took Hunter Pence going on the disabled list to get Williamson back to the bigs.
Pence was placed on the 10-day DL on Monday after battling a mild hamstring strain for the past several days.
Pence has not appeared in a game since making a brief appearance in Friday’s 17-inning marathon. That means the DL stint could be backdated to Saturday, meaning he could come off the DL as early as May 23 in Chicago. But given Pence’s battles with hamstring issues in the past, it seems more likely he won’t return until the Giants come home for a Memorial Day weekend series against the Braves on May 26.
Pence becomes the 12th Giants to head to the DL this season, joining Will Smith, Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Aaron Hill, Jarrett Parker, Denard Span, Mark Melancon, Conor Gillaspie, Trevor Brown and Williamson.
Giants fans have been clamoring for the team to recall Williamson from Triple-A Sacramento ever since he was first sent there on April 21 after spening the first three weeks on the DL with a leg injury.
But after a very solid spring, Williamson took a while to find his swing at Triple-A.
On May 7, he was hitting just .208 with a .240 OBP. He had more strikeouts (14) than hits (10) in 50 plate appearances. Yet, Giants fans STILL wanted to call him up.
He then he got hot, collecting hits in his last six games with the RiverCats, including four multi-hits games. He is 10 for 25 (.400) with six strikeouts and four walks in that stretch, moving his average from .208 to .274.
Sunday’s win over Cincinnati nothwithstanding, the Giants have struggled to score runs this season. So they could use a hot bat.
You can expect Williamson to play, particularly with the Dodgers sending lefties on Tuesday and Wednesday.
And a break right now might be the best thing for Hunter Pence. His average had dropped to .243 on the season. He had been hitting .184 over his past 10 games, .207 over the past month, averaging about a strikeout a game.
The San Francisco Giants got their most dramatic win of the season to date – and it might be the most dramatic win at season’s end.
Two dramatic home runs, rallying from a 3-0 deficit after six innings, a walk-off win, against the Dodgers. That will be hard to beat.
The Giants were 5-57 last year when trailing after seven innings. But they won last night.
This season, before last night, the Giants were 0-12 when trailing after six innings, 0-13 when trailing after seven innings.
But that didn’t keep MoreSplashHits from sharing signs of optimism.
When Dodgers manager Dave Roberts pulled starter Alex Wood after six scoreless innings and brought in former Giant Sergio Romo, MoreSplashHits tweeted.
Sergio is coming in to protect a 3-run lead.
So you’re saying we have a shot.
— Tim Martinez (@MoreSplashHits) April 27, 2017
As much as we love Sergio and all he has done for the Giants over the year, the memory of last season was still too fresh.
To make the tweet that much sweeter was what Christian Arroyo did when he stepped up in the seventh with a runner on base.
Apart from being an exciting moment for the rookie – and Giants fans – it was also encouraging to see Arroyo with the long ball.
He had never hit more than nine home runs in any of his previous four minor league seasons. Last year, he hit only three for Double-A Richmond.
But he hit three in Sacramento so far this season, which made us worry that part of his hot Triple-A start was partially inflated by the hitter-friendly PCL and might signal that his hot start might not translate to the majors, particularly for a player hitting in the pitcher-friendly AT&T Park.
But then Arroyo went yard Wednesday.
Then in the eighth inning, with the Dodgers leading 3-2, Michael Morse came up as a pinch-hitter in his first at-bat for the Giants since the 2014 World Series and his first at-bat in the majors since being released by the Pirates in April of last year.
MoreSplashHits tweeted this.
Down 3-2 in the bottom of the eighth, Michael Morse is pinch-hitting.
Something very familiar about this situation.
— Tim Martinez (@MoreSplashHits) April 27, 2017
That was referencing one of Morse’s last at-bats at AT&T Park in a Giants uniform, when he came up as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning of Game 5 of the 2014 NL Championship Series with the Giants trailing the Cardinals 3-2.
Morse would hit a game-tying home run off Pat Neshek.
In that case, it was Morse’s first plate appearance in almost a month as he battled an oblique injury, his first at-bat at AT&T Park in about six weeks.
On Wednesday, it was Morse’s first at-bat at AT&T Park in almost two seasons. And yet, he did this.
That means in Morse’s last four pinch-hitting appearances as a Giant at AT&T Park, he’s gone …
- Home run
- Home run
Hmmmm, maybe we should tweet that.
Recently, San Francisco Giants Bobby Evans spoke about the possibility of bringing up prospect Christian Arroyo.
“I’m not saying that Arroyo is not ready. I’m not going in that direction,” Evans told reporters. “I’m just saying you want him to push you to make that decision. What he’s done so far is a great beginning to that, but we’re only two weeks in.”
That was just five days ago.
On Monday, the Giants called up Arroyo to the big league and put him in the starting lineup at third base against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He’ll wear No. 22.
So what happened between then and now?
Well, Madison Bumgarner fell off a dirt bike in Denver and the Giants were swept by the Rockies, falling to 6-13, their worst 19-game start since moving to San Francisco.
Oh, and Arroyo kept on hitting in Sacramento, including going 4-for-6 on Sunday.
This decision by the Giants really boils down to one number: 13.
In their past seven games, that’s the total number of runs the Giants have scored.
It is also the total number of hits Arroyo has collected in his past seven games with the RiverCats.
With Brandon Crawford expected to leave the team on a bereavement leave for his sister-in-law’s funeral later this week, the timing made sense to call on Arroyo.
The Giants actually made two moves on Monday, also calling up outfielder Drew Stubbs. Stubbs also was in Monday’s starting lineup, batting eighth and playing center field.
Chris Marrero was designated for assignment, and Aaron Hill was placed on the disabled list with a forearm strain.
Why was Marrero and his .132 average DFA’d instead of Gorkys Hernandez and his .108 average? Well, Gorkys can play defense, and his bat has shown a little bit more life recently (which is not saying much, I know).
It also means Denard Span’s shoulder injury must not be that severe. The Giants will continue with a four-player bench. Monday night it consists of Span, Hernandez, Conor Gillaspie and Nick Hundley. Not a lot of pop there.
So what can expect from Arroyo, the first 21-year-old position player to be called up by the Giants since Hector Sanchez in 2011?
Well, his game is a lot like that of Joe Panik or Matt Duffy.
Although Arroyo has three home runs already for the RiverCats, he only hit three homers all of last season with Double-A Richmond and has never hit more than nine in any of his four professional seasons (that came In 90 games at High-A San Jose in 2014). He’s a put-the-bat-on-the-ball guy, striking out once every 6.7 plate appearances as a pro.
By comparsion, Marco Scutaro, a prolific bat-on-ball guy, struck once every 9.6 PAs in his big-league career. Free-swinging Jarrett Parker fans once every 3.04 PAs in his short big-league career.
Arroyo also doesn’t walk much (one walk in every 17.5 PAs).
He turns 22 on May 30, so much of that minor league resume came at age 18, 19, 20 and 21.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy has him hitting sixth between lefties Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik. And he’s playing third base, where the Giants hope he finds a permanent home with them. Eduardo Nunez moves to left field to make room for Arroyo in the starting lineup. Look for Nunez to cover shortstop when Crawford goes on leave.
Arroyo’s arrival also means they will have four of their own first-round draft picks in the lineup Monday
- SP Matt Cain (2002)
- C Buster Posey (2008)
- 2B Joe Panik (2011)
- 3B Christian Arroyo (2013)
Not to mention 2012 top pick Chris Stratton is in the bullpen.
So good luck, Christian Arroyo. We hope you’re here to stay.
You’ve heard of Orange Fridays, right San Francisco Giants fans?
Well, April 21, 2017 was Black Friday for the Giants.
First came news that – actually when I saw the first tweet about this I thought it was a joke, a bad, bad joke – that Madison Bumgarner would be placed on the disabled list with sprained pitching shoulder and bruised ribs sustained in a dirt-bike accident during the Giants off day Thursday in Denver.
Then, on Friday night, when Giants fans needed a glimmer of hope to raise their spirits, the Giants lost in particularly painful fashion to the Colorado Rockies.
It started with the Giants’ team bus backing into a parked car on the way to Coors Field.
First the Giants teased their fans by taking a 3-0 lead in the second inning thanks to contributions from players who hadn’t contributed much of anything over the last week (or three weeks) – Eduardo Nunez, Chris Marrero and Denard Span.
But that all unraveled in the fourth inning when the Rockies became the first National League time in 67 years to hit a grand slam and an inside-the-park home run in the same inning. And just to make matters more painful, in 29 other big-league parks, both home runs likely would have landed in the glove of Hunter Pence.
The first was Trevor Story’s grand slam to right, which off the bat looked like a routine fly ball to right. But it kept carrying to the short porch to right – a lot like Miguel Cabrera’s home run in the 2012 World Series – for a grand slam. It was the first grand slam that Johnny Cueto has allowed in his career.
Later in the inning, Charlie Blackmon hit a line to Pence in right. Pence, fighting the lights the entire way, slipped on the soggy turf and the ball shot past him for a two-run inside-the-parker. To make matters even more fun, Pence said his knee was “a little twisted” on the play. Pence was out of the lineup Saturday.
But the fun didn’t end there. The Giants were in position to tie the game in the eighth with two on and nobody out. Bruce Bochy pulled back Conor Gillaspie as the pinch hitter and sent up Gorkys Hernandez with his .067 batting average (0-for-23 since the 2nd day of the season) to bunt.
Hernandez took two balls, tried to take a third but couldn’t get out of the way and the high-and-tight pitch went off his bat for a foul ball. Then with a 2-1 count, he TOOK a strike instead of bunting, then flied to right. The Giants didn’t score.
And it does not stop there. Melvin Upton Jr., signed to a minor-league deal to add depth to the Giants’ suffering outfield, was hit on the hand with a pitch at extended spring training. He’ll be out eight weeks after having surgery.
It all left Giants fans asking one question: Now what?
And by “now what” they meant what will the Giants do without their best pitcher for two months.
Two months. That’s estimated time Bumgarner will be out, according to a couple of national baseball writers.
But Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle says such estimates are pure projections until Bumgarner is seen by the team doctor. That won’t happen until next week.
In the short term, the Giants called up Chris Stratton from Triple-A Sacramento fill Bumgarner’s spot on the roster. Stratton will be used in relief, likely just long relief as he has been starting for the RiverCats.
Ty Blach will take Bumgarner’s spot in the rotation on Tuesday against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers.
For anyone looking for a ray of sunshine, the last time Blach and Kershaw went head-to-head on Oct. 1 of last season, Blach held the Dodgers to no runs on three hits over eight innings as the Giants won 3-0.
Blach has been pitching out of the bullpen this season, allowing three runs (all earned) on two hits and three walks over 5.2 innings. However, three runs, two hits and two walks came in one outing in Arizona. Take that out,and Blach has thrown 4.2 scoreless innings, allowing one hit and one walk.
But replacing Bumgarner isn’t about replacing him strikeout for strikeout, earned run for earned run.
It’s about giving the Giants the chance to win.
As I mentioned, tongue in cheek, in a tweet: “Just remember that without Bumgarner, the Giants would be 6-10 right now.”
That’s because that Giants are 0-4 in Bumgarner starts this season — not that any of that was Bumgarner’s fault.
But last season, the Giants were 20-14 in Bumgarner’s start, which is on par for most seasons. They were 19-13 in his starts in 2015 and 2012, 20-13 in 2014 and 11-7 in 2010.
So 20-14 is a .588 winning percentage. Now if Bumgarner misses two months, that would be about 12 starts.
To maintain a .588 winning percentage over those 12 starts, the Giants would need to 7-5 in the starts that Blach (or potentially Tyler Beede) makes during Bumgarner’s turn in the rotation.
That doesn’t seem unattainable.
Baseball is a team sport. And when one players goes down, it’s up to the team to pick up the slack.
If the Giants could stay in the playoff hunt well into September without Buster Posey in 2011, they could certainly stay in the mix until late June without Bumgarner.
But they need contributions from up and down the roster. That includes the five players who were projected to make up the Giants’ bench when the season started – Nick Hundley, Aaron Hill, Conor Gillaspie, Chris Marrero and Gorkys Hernandez.
Right now, only Hundley (.257) is holding up his end of the bargain. The other four have combined to hit .126.
The San Francisco Giants are back in Kansas City, seeking some good karma.
And the last time the Giants were in K.C., there was a lot of good feelings, plus technology and stuff.
The Giants make their first appearance at Kaufman Stadium since beating the Royals in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series with a historic performance from Madison Bumgarner.
But that was 2.5 years ago, and things are not going so well for the Giants now.
They are 5-9, in last place in the NL West, their starting left fielder is out more than two months with a broken collarbone, their best player hasn’t been in the lineup in more than a week, they haven’t won a game this year started by their ace Bumgarner, and now their manager is out after having a procedure performed on his heart.
Bruce Bochy will miss the series in Kansas City after having a minor heart procedure (yeah, we say “minor” because it wasn’t our heart that the procedure was being performed on) to alleviate some discomfort he was experiencing due to an atrial flutter. He will rest at home for a couple of days before rejoining the club Friday in Colorado.
Ron Wotus will assume managerial duties in Kansas City. And if you’re looking for a good sign through all this gloom, Wotus has a good record as Giants skipper. Last season, when Bochy was admitted to a Miami hospital for an undisclosed illness, Wotus took over the reins and led the Giants to an 8-7 win over the Marlins in 14 innings during which Brandon Crawford became the first MLB player in 41 years to get seven hits in a game.
And if you want more good news, Buster Posey is back.
Posey was activated off the 7-day concussion disabled list and will bat fourth in the lineup vs. the Royals as the designated hitter. Posey said he was unsure if he would catch Bumgarner on Wednesday or not. It’s probably a wait-and-see thing.
The Giants didn’t announce a corresponding move to make room for Buster on the 25-man roster. But we can assume that Tim Federowicz will be designated for assignment. The Giants hope he clears waivers and will return to Sacramento for added depth.
Before Wednesday’s game with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Giants manager Bruce Bochy was noncommittal about the prospect of skipping Matt Cain’s spot in the rotation next week when the Giants have off days around a two-game series in Kansas City.
But the Giants beat writers seemed pretty certain that they would.
Bochy non-committal about skipping Cain next time, but regardless of how he pitches tonight, it’s a pretty obvious move.
— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) April 12, 2017
Giants still considering skipping fifth starter next week (I think they will). Would give Bumgarner two starts on road trip.
— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) April 12, 2017
— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) April 13, 2017
But I was less certain.
#SFGiants beat writers seem convinced No. 5 spot in rotation to be skipped next week as “obvious move”.
Also seems like un-Bochy-like move
— Tim Martinez (@MoreSplashHits) April 13, 2017
In fact, I wasn’t even so sure that if Wednesday’s game had been rained out – it was a soggy, windy night – that Bochy would not have skipped Cain and started Madison Bumgarner on his normal rest on Thursday.
But the game was played and afterwards Bochy was unequivocal – Cain will start next Tuesday in Kansas City after giving up one run on five hits and three walks over five-plus innings of work.
“I think you have to (change your thinking), the way he threw the ball,” Bochy said. “His command, he had four pitches going tonight, he had a good curveball along with the changeup and the fastball command. If you look at his last few games, here he gives up a run but he just bowed his neck and went out there and pitched very well. He found a way to get it done.
“I thought that was just a huge outing for him and a good one to build on.”
In his report for the San Jose Mercury News, Andrew Baggarly hit the nail on the head when he wrote “When a manager has a predilection for loyalty, he doesn’t need to see much to be convinced.”
Bochy said of Cain: “Well, I think it’s something he’s earned. You look at what he’s done for us. We’ve got some championships because of this guy. Some guys earn certain things.
“I go back to Barry Zito. He had his ups and downs, but we stayed with him, and he helped us win a World Series (in 2012), with those starts at St. Louis and then against Detroit. I feel the same about Matty. I think we all do. He’s well-liked. He’s a Giant. He’s a big part of our success. He deserves a longer look.”
But it’s more than loyalty. Yes, Bochy has struck with struggling veteran pitchers with a long track record with the club like Cain, Zito and Barry Zito. But in the past, he has also chosen not to skip the No. 5 spot in the rotation regardless of who is pitching in that spot. He just doesn’t like to do it.
But in this particular case, it seems to make good sense, even before Cain’s solid effort on Wednesday.
By staying on turn and pitching Cain next Tuesday – and again a week from Sunday — it means the Giants will send their top four into the series against the Dodgers – Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Matt Moore and Jeff Samardzija. That includes two lefties against the lefty-vulnerable Dodgers.
Looking even farther into the future, if the Giants stay one turn, they would throw Moore, Samardzija and Cain against the Dodgers on May 1-3 in Los Angeles.
Bochy has said that, while he prefers to keep his pitchers on turn, he would consider inserting lefty Ty Blach into the rotation in certain situations. May 3 in Los Angeles could be such a situation.
But that’s a long way off. And for now, with Cain in the rotation, it allows Blach to remain in the pen as the Giants’ lone lefty.
While Cain, the Giants and Bochy were buoyed by Cain’s start on Wednesday, it’s important to remember that in recent years the key to Cain’s success has been his ability to keep the ball in the yard.
On a cold, wet, windy night, the chances of anyone hitting the ball over a wall were not good. And that helped Cain.
Last season, in starts in which he did not allow a home run (excluding an injury-shortened start in Colorado), Cain was 2-1 with a 2.59 ERA. His lone loss came in a game in which he got “Cained” – the Giants lost 3-0.
So pitching at home helped Cain. But dating back to 2015, Cain has allowed 18 home runs in his last 15 road starts, excluding the injury-shortened start.
Cain’s next two starts come on the road – in Kansas City and (gulp!) Colorado.
We hate to say “we told you so” but we told you so.
Tuesday, the San Francisco Giants placed Buster Posey on the 7-day concussion disabled list and called up Tim Federowicz from Triple-A Sacramento.
To make room for Federowicz on the 40-man roster, pitcher Clayton Blackburn was designated for assignment.
We sort of predicted this move on Monday.
The one surprise in this move is the choice of Clayton Blackburn as the player to be DFAd.
A 16th-round pick out of Edmond (Okla.) Santa Fe High School, Blackburn became one the Giants’ top pitching prospects. Prior to the 2013 season, Baseball Prospectus listed him as the 95th best prospect in baseball.
After posting a 10-4 season with a 3.37 ERA with Triple-A Sacramento in 2015, it was thought that Blackburn could see time with the Giants in 2016. That didn’t really materialized, although Blackburn did spend four days with the big club last May, never seeing any game action.
Blackburn went 7-10 with 4.36 ERA for the RiverCats last season.
It’s not unheard of that players DFAd could clear waivers and return to Sacramento. It happened to Chris Heston two seasons ago. He later returned to throw a no-hitter for the Giants.
In the meantime, it will be Hundley as the Giants’ No. 1 catcher with Federowicz the backup for at least the next week.
Here’s another prediction. The best-case scenario for the Giants is for Posey to spend the next week resting up and be ready to return April 18 in Kansas City. Posey could then DH for two games before returning behind the plate on April 21 in Colorado.
The worst-case scenario? Well, with concussions, it’s hard to say.