The San Francisco Giants are 2-0 after the All-Star break.
We knew the series against the Diamondbacks was going to be big. And these two games had the feel of October baseball.
In fact, Saturday’s 4-3 win by the Giants over Arizona felt a lot like Game 5 of last October’s NL Division Series against the Reds.
Think about it.
Matt Cain gets the start, pitches well early, is given the lead, but can’t get through the sixth inning.
Jeremy Affeldt gets injured.
Buster Posey hits a big home run in the fifth inning to extend the Giants’ lead, and the homer represents the last of the Giants’ scoring.
The bullpen runs the gauntlet in the late innings, escaping jam after jam and hanging onto the lead.
Sergio Romo gives up a one run in the ninth, but locks down the victory.
CAIN’S START: After an ugly outing in St. Louis on June 1, Cain posted a 1.84 ERA over his next five starts, lowering his ERA from 5.45 to 4.29. Then he had two ugly starts vs. the Dodgers (2.1 IP, 8 ER) and Mets (0.2 IP, 3 ER) and his ERA was back at 5.06. Cain came out Saturday and threw up four zeros before getting charged for single earned runs in the fifth and sixth. He should have escaped with another zero in the fifth when he got Eric Chavez to hit a double-play ball to second. But shortstop Tony Abreu, playing in place of the mildly hurt Brandon Crawford, threw the throw to first away, allowing a run to score. At the time, the run was unearned, as it scored on an error. But when Cain followed with back-to-back walks, it turned the run into an earned run. But if Abreu makes the play he should have, no runs score. He opened the sixth by giving up back-to-back singles and exited with 102 pitches in five-plus innings. Again, the Abreu error in the fifth led to Cain throwing an extra 15-18 pitches in the fifth.
AFFELDT HURT: Last October in Cincinnati, Affeldt suffered a minor injury when he tried to avoid a foul ball in the dugout. Saturday’s injury was a bit more severe. Affeldt suffered a strain groin and is likely headed to the DL. It’s quite possible Affeldt may be out a month. Jean Machi likely will get recalled to fill Affeldt’s spot, but when does Dan Runzler get another shot in the bigs? He’s a lefty, even though the Giants have lefties Javier Lopez and Jose Mijares in the pen.
BUSTER’S BLAST: After Andres Torres singled with one out in the fifth, Buster Posey blasted a shot over the center-field wall for his 14th homer of the year. It gave the Giants a 4-1 lead.
BULLPEN STARTS, THEN PUTS OUT FIRES: After Cain got the hook with two on and no outs in the sixth, George Kontos gave up an RBI single to Martin Prado to make it 4-2, then got Cody Ross to line out to second for the first out. Affeldt was brought in for Kontos and got Cliff Pennington to fly out to Pence in Triple’s Alley. But then strained his groin on a 2-2 pitch to A.J. Pollock and Jose Mijares was called in. Mijares walked Pollock to load the bases, but struck out Adam Eaton to end the threat.
In the seventh, and Santiago Casilla pitching, Aaron Hill got a two-out walk followed by a single by Miguel Montero. So again, go-ahead run came to the plate. But Castilla got Martin Prado to ground out.
In the eight, Sandy Rosario came into pitch and gave up a lead-off single to Cody Ross that glanced off Rosario’s ring finger on his pitching hand (X-rays after the game were negative). After Rosario got Pennington to fly to center, Javier Lopez came in. Wil Nieves reached on an error by Crawford, again bringing the go-ahead run to the plate. But Eaton made the second out on a comebacker to Lopez and Gerardo Parra grounded to second to end the inning.
In the ninth, Sergio Romo came in and gave up an infield single to Paul Goldschmidt off Romo’s glove. Hill flied to center, and Montero grounded to first with Goldschmidt taking second. Prado hit a bloop single to right to score Goldschmidt, but Romo struck out Cody Ross to end the game.
Now, the Giants clinched the series win they needed to get. They are 4.5 game out of first place, four games behind the second-place Dodgers. A win tomorrow will get them at least within four games of the lead, maybe 3.5.
This is an opportunity with All-Star Madison Bumgarner on the mound. The Giants need to seize on these opportunities. And it would be nice if they could do without going too deep into the bullpen that used seven of eight pitchers in the pen on Saturday.
Chad Gaudin did it again on Friday.
Gaudin, the journeyman pitcher who joined his Xth team this spring when he signed with the Giants, turned in his best performance of the season when he limited the Diamondbacks to three hits and no walks or runs over seven innings in the Giants’ 2-0 win on Friday. He struck out eight, improved his record to 4-1 and lowered his ERA to 2.15.
He is 4-0 with 2.23 in seven starts since moving to the rotation in place of the injured Ryan Vogelsong.
Since coming off the DL after being hit in the arm with a line drive, Gaudin is 2-0 with 0.95 ERA over three starts.
Manager Bruce Bochy admitted that it would be hard to remove Gaudin from the rotation when Vogelsong returns from his stint on the DL next month.
So it left many Giants fans to wonder: Who goes to the pen when Vogey returns? Vogey? Gaudin? Tim Lincecum? Barry Zito?
Well, the answer may have come Saturday afternoon.
Ryan Vogelsong threw 40 pitches in the bullpen, then 35 more from the main mound at AT&T Park to coaches Shawon Dunston and Roberto Kelly as well as outfielder Gregor Blanco.
“I came out of it healthy,” he told the San Jose Mercury News. “I took out of it what I needed to. The hand feels good, the arm feels good.”
Barring any setback, Vogelsong’s next step to pitch in an Arizona Rookie League game next week, then a start with Class A San Jose and another with Double-A Richmond. The “soft” return date to the Giants is Aug. 9.
August 9, eh? Hmmm. That could be very telling. Take a look at how the Giants’ rotation sets up between now and then.
- July 20 vs. Diamondbacks (Cain)
- July 21 vs. Diamondbacks (Bumgarner)
- July 22 vs. Reds (Lincecum)
- Jul 23 DH vs. Reds (Zito and TBD – either Yusmeiro Pettit, Mike Kickham or Eric Surkamp; Pettit seems longshot as it would require opening a spot on the 40-man roster).
- July 24 vs. Reds (Gaudin)
- July 26 vs. Cubs (Cain)
- July 27 vs. Cubs (Bumgarner)
- July 28 vs. Cubs (Lincecum)
Now, the Giants have two upcoming days off — July 25 and July 29. If they stay on turn, Zito would pitch on July 30 in Philadelphia to open a six-game road trip. It would also mean Zito would pitch twice on that road trip.
Considering Zito has been so dreadful on the road — he is 0-6 with 9.89 ERA on the road compared to 4-1 with a 2.45 ERA at home — it would wise to use those off days to skip Zito’s turn in the rotation, limiting him to one start on the road trip. Then the rotation would look like this:
- July 30 at Philadelphia (Gaudin)
- July 31 at Philadelphia (Cain)
- Aug. 1 at Philadelphia (Bumgarner)
- Aug. 2 at Tampa Bay (Lincecum)
- Aug. 3 at Tampa Bay (Zito)
- Aug. 4 at Tampa Bay (Gaudin)
- Aug. 5 vs. Milwaukee (Cain)
- Aug. 6 vs. Milwaukee (Bumgarner)
- Aug. 7 vs. Milwaukee (Lincecum)
That would mean that Zito’s next turn in the rotation would fall on August 8, at home vs. the Brewers. Vogelsong’s soft return date is Aug. 9. That means Vogelsong’s soft return date would plot him right between Zito and Gaudin in the rotation, meaning either could easily be bumped.
Or the Giants could even tinker with a six-man rotation, in which Zito gets skipped on the road.
The San Francisco Giants went into the All-Star break with a 43-51 record, their worst mark at the break in five years.
On Friday, the second half of the season begins with a key series against the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Diamondbacks went into the break with a 50-45 mark. If all of the NL West teams duplicate their first half performances, the Diamondbacks would win the division title with an 85-77 record.
But MoreSplashHits believes it will take at least 88 wins to take the division crown this year. That means the Giants would have to finish the season 45-23 over the final 68 games to reach that 88-win mark.
It’s a daunting task for a team eight games under .500. But not impossible.
It’s only four games better than how the Giants finished over their final 68 games in 2012, when they posted a 41-27 record.
But if the Giants hope to win 22 more games than they will lose over the last 2.5 months of the season, they need to start winning now.
Taking 3 of 4 from the Padres prior to the break is a start. It needs to keep going this weekend at home against the Diamondbacks. The Giants have won 6 of 9 vs. Arizona this year.
If the Giants take 2 of 3 from Arizona, they will be 5.5 games out of first place and still in the mix. If they lose 2 of 3, they will fall 7.5 games back and on the verge of being out of the mix.
If the Giants get swept by Arizona, they will fall 9.5 games and it might be time to start thinking about 2014.
However, if the Giants were to sweep Arizona, they’d be 3.5 games behind Arizona, and the race is on.
The Giants come out of the break with 10 consecutive games at AT&T Park (although they’ll be the “road” team in one of those games against the Reds as part of a makeup from a rained-out game in Cincinnati earlier this month).
Realistically, the Giants need to go at least 6-4 over those 10 games to stay viable in the NL West race. The goal should really be more like 7-3.
August’s schedule is brutal, with series against the Rays, Orioles, Red Sox, Nationals and Pirates. So the winning needs to start in July.
Following through on a pledge he made Friday, San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy selected closer Sergio Romo as an injury replacement to the National League All-Star roster on Sunday.
Pirates pitcher Jeff Locke and Nationals pitcher Jordan Zimmermann announced that they would not participate in Tuesday’s game in New York because of minor injuries.
Bochy replaced Locke and Zimmermann with Romo and Pirates reliever Mark Melancon.
That give the Giants four players on the All-Star roster with Romo joining reserves Buster Posey, Marco Scutaro and Madison Bumgarner.
Bochy will need to make at least two more replacement selections. Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright is scheduled to start Sunday night’s game against the Cubs, making him ineligible to play in the All-Star game. However, Bochy cannot announce a replacement for Wainwright until he actually throw a pitch in the game, which doesn’t start until 5 p.m. Pacific Time. I would expect Bochy to turn another Cardinal to replace Wainwright. That’s what he did with Locke.
Two possible Redbird options are starting pitcher Shelby Miller or reliever Edward Mujica.
Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, who on Thursday won the All-Star Final Vote as the final addition to the roster, suffered a jammed thumb on Saturday and will not play Tuesday.
Freeman beat out the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig, Giants’ Hunter Pence, Nationals’ Ian Desmond and Dodgers’ Adrian Gonzalez in fan voting, in that order.
Considering Puig, the runner-up in fan voting, has been sidelined this weekend by a sore shoulder, Bochy may select Pence as a replacement for Freeman. Pence finished third in Final Vote voting.
However, San Jose Mercury’s Alex Pavlovic reported that Bochy is leaning to a third catcher to replace Freeman. If that’s the case, the Rockies’ Wilin Rosario would be at the top of the list.
Tim Lincecum has accomplished a lot in his seven-year career with the San Francisco Giants.
He’s a two-time Cy Young Award winner, a four-time All-Star. He was the NL All-Star starter in 2009. He was the Giants’ opening day starter 2009-2012. He started Game 1 of the 2010 NLDS, NLCS and World Series. He pitched the Giants to victory in the clinching game of the 2010 World Series. He’s a two-time World Champion.
But one thing he hadn’t accomplished was pitch a no-hitter.
So I understand how many Giants fans watching the last few innings of Saturday’s win over the Padres with nervous trepidation.
However, I wasn’t one of them. I wasn’t nervous because I just didn’t think he could throw a no-hitter.
Prior to Saturday, Lincecum had just five shutouts in his career and only eight complete games. None since 2011.
So as Lincecum piled up the strikeouts Saturday, his pitch count continue to rise to more than 100 by the end of the sixth inning. At the pace he was on, it would take 153 pitches to complete nine innings of work. And as he had never thrown more than 142 pitches in a game in his career, it seemed as if time was not on his side.
But he found a way. There’s something about July nights, the San Diego Padres, an unlikely pitcher that lead to no-hitters.
You’ll remember when Jonathan Sanchez threw his no-hitter in July of 2009, he had just returned from being demoted to the bullpen when he no-hit the Padres.
Lincecum got 13 of his 27 outs on Saturday by strikeout, most on swing-and-misses. Here are his blemishes on the night
- A two-out walk to Chase Headley in the first innning
- He hit Jed Gyroko with a pitch with one out in the second
- A one-out walk to Everth Cabrera in the sixth
- A two-out walk of Headley in the sixth
- A two-out walk to Cabrera in the eighth
Of balls put in play, there were three scary plays
With Cabrera and Headley on base with two out in the sixth, Carlos Quentin hit a hard liner right at shortstop Brandon Crawford
Jesus Guzman hit a bouncer behind the bag at third that Pablo Sandoval gloved and make a strong throw to first for the out to end the seventh.
Alexi Amarista hit a sinking liner to right that Hunter Pence made a diving, rolling grab to end the eighth.
The left the ninth, during which Lincecum struck out Headley and got Quentin and Yonder Alonso to fly out to Gregor Blanco to set off the celebration.
It was a stirring, 148-pitch gem from Lincecum during a time when the Giants needed a spark the most.
What other surprises does Lincecum have in store for Giants fans during the second half of 2013
The Giants were busy making moves on Saturday, activated reliever Santiago Casilla from the disabled list and promoting outfielder Jeff Franceour from Triple-A Fresno.
The Giants sent infielder Nick Noonan and reliever Jean Machi to Fresno to make room for Casilla and Francoeur.
But in order to activate Francoeur, the Giants needed to create room on their 40-man roster. They did that by designating pitcher Chris Heston for assignment.
The move was surprising because Heston came into spring training as the No. 1 option in the farm system should one of the Giants’ five starting pitchers get injured.
Heston was drafted in the 12th round by the Giants in the 2009 draft out of East Carolina University. This season was his fifth in the Giants’ organization, and he seemed to be getting better as he moved through the system.
- 2009, he was 1-5 with 4.11 and 1.143 WHIP for the Giants Arizona Rookie League team
- 2010, he was 5-13 with 3.75 ERA and 1.305 WHIP for Class A Augusta
- 2011, he was 12-4 with 3.16 ERA and 1.219 WHIP for Class A San Jose
- 2012, he was 7-6 with 2.24 ERA and 1.103 WHIP for Double-A Richmond.
He was a Giants organization All-Star in 2011 and 2012. He was the Eastern League pitcher of the year in 2012, beating out, among others, former Giants prospect Zach Wheeler.
Last November, he was added to the Giants’ 40-man roster to protected from the Rule 5 draft, along with Noonan, outfielder Juan Perez and pitchers Edwin Escobar and Jake Dunning.
But then things went poorly for Heston. He went 0-1 with 9.28 ERA and 1.69 WHIP in four outings during spring training. For Triple-A Fresno, he was 7-6 with 5.80 ERA and 1.610 WHIP.
Even though PCL hitters were hitting .301 against Heston, the decision to DFA him seemed odd for a team so lean on starting pitching in the system. Both CSN Bay Area’s Andrew Baggarly and The Chronicle Henry Schulman speculated the Giants may be looking to trade Heston. They have 10 days to trade, release or put Heston on waivers.
Here’s a breakdown on the other players on the Giants’ 40-man roster who have not appeared in a game with the Giants in 2013.
P Edwin Escobar – Signed as an international free agent from Venezuela at age 17, Escobar, 21, is in his fifth year in the organization. A reliever, Escobar is 3-4 with 2.89 ERA, 92 strikeouts, 17 walks, 1.138 WHIP in 74.2 innings for Class A San Jose.
P Dan Runzler – Runzler, 28, was a ninth-round draft pick in 2007 by the Giants. He made his big-league debut in 2009 and he’s believed to be the only player in Giants’ history to pitch for the big club after pitching for four different levels of the minor leagues. After going 3-0 with 3.03 ERA for the Giants in 2010, his career got derailed a bit by injuries. He worked himself by into shape and was thought to be a leading contender to make the club out of spring training this season, but was optioned instead to Triple-A Fresno, where his has gone 3-3 with 5.08 ERA in 39 innings. But he is left-handed.
P Hunter Strickland – A career minor leaguer, Strickland, 24, was claimed off waivers from the Pirates prior to the start of the 2013 season, added to the 40-man roster, and optioned to Class A San Jose. Strickland has never pitched above Double-A in six minor-league seasons. He’s been very good at San Jose this season, going 1-0 with nine saves, a 0.86 ERA and 0.714 WHIP in 21 innings.
P Eric Surkamp – The former sixth-round pick in 2008, Surkamp was the Giants’ top-rated pitcher in the system in 2011 after they dealt Zach Wheeler to the Mets. Surkamp was promoted from Double-A Richmond and went 2-2 with 5.74 ERA in six starts for the Giants at the tail end of the 2011 season. But he developed elbow problems and required Tommy John surgery last season. During his rehab this year, he made five starts for Class A San Jose, going 0-0 with a 2.93 ERA. After being optioned to Triple-A Fresno, he is 2-0 with 2.81 ERA in three starts. He could be an option to start for the Giants in August.
IF Ehire Adrianza – Adrianza has the reputation as having a great glove, but lacks offense. His best offensive season was 2011 when he hit .273 with .352 OBP between low-A Augusta and high-A San Jose. He hit .220 for Double-A Richmond in 2012 and was hitting .242 with .334 OBP for Richmond in 2013 before getting promoted to Triple-A Fresno last week.
OF Roger Kieschnick – The left-handed hitting Kieschnick looked to be headed to the big leagues last season when he hit .306 with 15 HRs and 40 RBI in 55 games for Triple-A Fresno. But he injured his shoulder running into the outfield wall, which effectively ended his season. In 2013, he hasn’t been the same, hitting .265 with 11 HR and 51 RBI in 90 games.
Bruce Bochy said that the the no-hit loss to Homer Bailey was rock bottom for the Giants.
Others may say it went a little farther down on Wednesday.
The Giants were shut down by an ex-prospect as Zach Wheeler limited his former team to one run on three hits over seven innings as the Mets completed a three-game sweep of the Giants with a 7-2 win.
Wheeler came into Wednesday’s game scuffling a bit, sporting a 4.29 ERA in his first four big-league starts. But that was no concern against the Giants. Why?
Because young pitchers have owned the Giants in 2013.
Wednesday’s game was the 13th time this season a young pitcher has started a game against the Giants for the first time in his career. In each of these games, the Giants had never faced this young pitcher (in a regular-season game). And we consider a “young pitcher” as entering the season with less than one full year of MLB service time.
Care to guess what the Giants’ win-loss record is in those 13 games? The Giants are 5-8 in those games.
Those games were started by the Dodgers’ Hyun-jin Kim and Matt Magill, Cardinals’ Shelby Miller and Tyler Lyons, Brewers’ Wily Peralta, Phillies’ Jonathan Pettibone, Bravers’ Julio Teheran, Athletics’ Dan Straily, Pirates’ Gerrit Cole, Marlins’ Tom Koehler and Jacob Turner, Reds’ Tony Cingrani and the Mets’ Wheeler.
In those 13 starts, the young pitchers facing the Giants for the first time are 6-2 with 3.55 ERA. If you remove two starts in which the Giants got to a young pitcher (vs. Peralta and Magill WAY back in April), those numbers drop to 6-2 with a 2.81 ERA.
Since beating Lyons in St. Louis on June 2, young pitchers facing the Giants for the first time have gone 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA over five starts.
So it begs the question: Do the Giants have scouts that they send out to get reports on these young pitchers?
If so, do the Giants share this information with their players?
If so, do the players read these reports and adjust accordingly?
And if not, why?
Just when you thought you’ve seen every possible way the Giants could shoot themselves in the foot, they managed to come up with something new on Saturday.
After Madison Bumgarner set the Dodgers down in order in the top of the first, Gregor Blanco opened the bottom of the frame with a double down the left-field line.
After Marco Scutaro bunted Blanco to third (we could have another blog post on WHY Scutaro feels he needs to bunt Blanco to third), Buster Posey spanked another double to score Blanco.
Then Dodgers manager Don Mattingly came out of the dugout with his lineup card in hand. Mattingly pointed out that Posey was not slotted to bat third; Pablo Sandoval was. Posey was slotted to bat fourth.
The umpires conferred and agreed. The Giants batted out of order. Posey’s double was negated, Blanco went back to third, Sandoval was ruled out, and Posey returned to bat again as the No. 4 batter. Posey then flied to right to end inning. The score was 0-0, instead of 1-0 Giants.
“I just at that point said “What else? What ELSE?” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said, expressing a sentiment most Giants fans would echo.
Bochy said the mix-up was a product of a “perfect storm” of circumstances.
Circumstance No. 1
Ever since Sandoval came off the disabled list June 24, Posey had batted in the No. 3 hole in every game — nine games — until Friday’s game, when Bochy put Sandoval at No. 3 and Posey at No. 4. We can only guess he did this in an effort to get Sandoval going. If Posey is batting behind Sandoval, perhaps Sandoval gets better pitches to hit.
Circumstance No. 2
When the Giants returned home from the road trip, the team had installed an electronic display where the lineup was posted in the clubhouse. On that electronic display, it listed Posey No. 3 and Sandoval No. 4.
Bochy said the lineup he wrote up on the actual lineup card that were exchanged at home plate said Sandoval No. 3, Posey No. 4.
Circumstance No. 3
Bochy was so busy trying to finalize the All-Star selections during the day that when Posey went up to bat in the first inning, he had a brain-lock. He said he began doubting which lineup he had submitted.
“When Buster was up, actually I was telling (coach Ron Wotus), ‘Actually, I wanted Buster hitting fourth.’ I didn’t think to look at my lineup card, I thought I wrote it down wrong, because I got a little tied up with the All-Star stuff.
“And when he was getting up there to hit, I realized, I looked, I said, ‘We just hit out of order, hoping they don’t notice it.’ But they picked it up.”
Bochy later said: “I looked up there and I thought I was losing it (when Posey went up to hit). I wanted to flip-flop those guys. At that point I should’ve looked at my card just to verify it, but I thought, well, inadvertently I went back to (Posey) in the 3-hole.”
Luckily, the lost run didn’t come back to haunt the Giants largely because of gifts they got from from the Dodgers in the second inning.
- Brandon Belt was hit by a pitch
- Andres Torres reached on an infield single when Hanley Ramirez took too much time to throw to first.
- Brandon Crawford reached on an error when Nick Punto’s throw to force Torres at second drew Ramirez off the bag.
- Madison Bumgarner walked to score the first run.
- Blanco got another infield single when Punto got to the ball, but tried to flip the ball to Ramirez at second toss the ball behind his back, and it went wrong. That scored the second run.
- Marco Scutaro’s sacrifice fly scored the third run.
That would be enough for Madison Bumgarner and the bullpen.
And now the Giants will try to steal Game 3 on Sunday against Clayton Kershaw. Let’s just hope they get the lineup right.
The San Francisco Giants went from four All-Star starters in 2012 to none in 2013.
But the Giants will be represented by three players in this year’s Midsummer’s Classic in New York as reserves — Buster Posey, Marco Scutaro and Madison Bumgarner.
Here are the NL starters for the July 16 game at Citi Field as voted upon by the fans.
- C – Yadier Molina, Cardinals
- 1B – Joey Votto, Reds
- 2B – Brandon Phillips, Reds
- SS – Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
- 3B – David Wright, Mets
- OF – Carlos Beltran, Cardinals
- OF – Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies
- OF – Bryce Harper, Nationals
Thirteen pitchers were selected to the team, 8 by a players vote, five more by manager Bruce Bochy (although we don’t know which pitcher were picked by players, and which were picked by Bochy. Although we can tell you than the five pitchers Bochy selected were starting pitchers, as players were required to vote for three relievers and there are only three relievers on the roster)
- Matt Harvey, Mets
- Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
- Patrick Corbin, Diamondbacks
- Adam Wainwright, Cardinals
- Jordan Zimmermann, Nationals
- Carlos Lee, Phillies
- Jose Fernandez, Marlins
- Travis Wood, Cubs
- Madison Bumgarner, Giants
- Jeff Locke, Pirates
- Craig Kimbrel, Braves
- Jason Grilli, Pirates
- Aroldis Chapman, Reds
That left 12 reserve position players, eight of which were voted on by the players, four were picked by Bochy, although again we don’t who picked whom. But we can assume that Bochy picked Goldschmidt or Craig (probably Craig), Scutaro or Carpenter (probably Scutaro), Segura or Cabreraj (probably Cabrera) and one of the four outfielders (probably Brown)
- 1B Paul Goldschimdt, Diamondbacks
- 1B Allen Craig, Cardinals
- 2B Marco Scutaro, Giants
- 2B Matt Carpenter, Cardinals
- SS Jean Segura, Brewers
- SS Evreth Cabrera, Padres
- 3B Pedro Alvarez, Pirates
- C Buster Posey, Giants
- OF Andrew McCutcheon
- OF Michael Cuddyer, Rockies
- OF Carlos Gomez, Brewers
- OF Domonic Brown, Phillies
OK, so how did MoreSplashHits did from our projections posted earlier this week.
Well, pretty darn good. Of the 33 players we projected to make the All-Star team, 29 actually made it.
One miss we had no control over, and that’s because of the fan vote. We had Justin Upton, because Upton was No. 3 in voting when we made our post. Harper passed Upton in the closing days of voting. We did say that neither player would make the team if he did not win the vote, and Upton did not make the team.
Our other misses were….
SP TRAVIS WOOD, CUBS: Wood is a solid pick to represent the Cubs with 5-6 record and a 2.69 ERA in 17 starts. We went with a reliever, Kevin Gregg, who is 2-1 with 1.59 ERA with 14 saves in 15 opportunities in 29 appearances.
SP MADISON BUMGARNER: Bumgarner has been the Giants’ best starting pitcher this year. He is 8-5 with 3.08 ERA in 17 starts. Bumgarner actually ranks 15th in the NL in ERA among starters. To put him on the team, Bochy had to leap from pitchers like Mike Leake (2.73), Shelby Miller (2.80), Hyun-Jin Ryu (2.82) and Mat Latos (3.03). We went with Sergio Romo as Bochy’s pitching pick from the Giants. At 3-3 with a 2.32 ERA and 19 saves, we felt that would be easier to defend than Bumgarner.
2B MATT CARPENTER: This was a logistics decision. We thought Bochy would go with a third catcher, so we had Wilin Rosario of the Rockies on the team. Going with two catchers means that Molina likely will catch five innings, then Posey will come in to catch the last four innings. But what happens if the game goes in extra innings. Bochy surely doesn’t want Posey catching more innings than necessary. Now, it is likely that Troy Tulowitzki won’t play because he’s still on the DL. With two reserve shortstops (Segura and Cabrera) on the roster, Bochy could choose to replace Tulowitzki with another Rockies player — Rosario — and then he’ll have three catchers. As it is now, Carpenter earned a spot on the team that Rosario did not. Actually, we don’t know if Carpenter earned a spot through the players vote and Bochy picked Scutaro, or the other way around.
The 2013 All-Star voting is boiling down to the final hours. Balloting is down to online voting from now until 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, the Fourth of July.
Last year, during this period, there was a flood on votes cast. For example, Yadier Molina was the leading NL vote-getter when the most recent results were released Tuesday with almost 5.1 million. By the time the final surge of votes are counted, he may need more than 7 million votes to keep the title of leading vote-getter.
So a lot can still change. The All-Star teams will be announced on Saturday.
Still, MoreSplashHits is taking our best guess as to what the NL All-Star team might look like.
We’ll start with an assumption (a very shaky assumption at that) that the vote leaders won’t change in the final days of voting. But that at least serves as a starting point.
The position leaders we feel most likely will hold onto their leads and be voted All-Star starters are SS Troy Tulowitzki (although he’s injured and likely will be replaced) and OF Carlos Beltran.
We’ve added an “IF” section for those positions where the vote is close.
We’ve included their July 2 vote total, and lead over No. 2 vote-getter at their position.
- 1B – Joey Votto, Reds (3.62 million, +587K over Paul Goldschmidt)
- 2B – Brandon Phillips, Reds (3.41 million, +225K over Matt Carpenter)
- SS – Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies (4.07 million, +1.7M over Brandon Crawford)
- 3B – David Wright, Mets (4.45 million, +842K over Pablo Sandoval)
- C – Yadier Molina, Cardinals (5.09 million, +419K over Buster Posey)
- OF – Carlos Beltran, Cardinals (5.01 million)
- OF – Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies (2.93 million)
- OF – Justin Upton, Braves (2.92 million, +15K over Bryce Harper)
PLAYERS VOTES (16 players)
The players vote on eight pitchers (five starters, three relievers) and the eight backups at each position. So this is a prediction on who those players would be based on the aforementioned projected starters.
- SP – Matt Harvey, Mets
- SP – Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
- SP – Patrick Corbin, Diamondbacks
- SP – Adam Wainwright, Cardinals
- SP – Jordan Zimmermann, Nationals
- RP – Craig Kimbrel, Braves
- RP – Jason Grilli, Pirates
- RP – Aroldis Chapman, Reds
- 1B – Paul Goldschmidt , Diamondbacks
- 2B – Marco Scutaro, Giants
- SS – Jean Segura, Brewers
- 3B – Pedro Alvarez, Pirates
- C – Buster Posey, Giants
- OF – Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
- OF – Michael Cuddyer , Rockies
- OF – Carlos Gomez , Brewers
When players vote, it’s often more about reputation than results. But I think the players will get this mostly right. The one reputation vote goes to Chapman. Results say better options could be Jonathan Papelbon of the Phillies, Edwin Mujica of the Cardinals or Rafael Soriano of the Nationals. But Chapman brings the heat. It’s not a bad pick. When Chapman is on, he’s filthy. The other tight vote goes to Scutaro. Results here say Matt Carpenter of the Cardinals is the better pick, if you base that off this year’s numbers. But if you go back to the second half of last year, then Scutaro is clearly deserving. When you add Scutaro’s postseason heroics and the fact he’s a 37-year-old veteran who has never made an All-Star team, Scutaro becomes a sentimental pick.
MANAGER PICKS (9 more)
This is where Bruce Bochy comes in. And it’s not just Bochy picking his nine favorite players. There are other factors, including making sure every team is represented and picking a third catcher.
- P – Cliff Lee, Phillies
- P – Jose Fernandez, Marlins (Marlins rep)
- P – Jeff Locke, Pirates
- P – Kevin Gregg, Cubs (Cubs rep)
- P – Sergio Romo, Giants
- BP – Wilin Rosario, Rockies
- BP – Everth Cabrera, Padres (Padres rep)
- BP – Dominic Brown, Phillies
- BP – Allen Craig, Cardinals
OK, first the team reps. For the Marlins, a month ago it may have been closer Steve Cichek. But his ERA is on the rise. And a nod to a 20-year-old rookie would be nice bonus for Marlins fans looking to the future. For the Cubs, the best position player candidate is OF Nate Schierholtz. No kidding! Schierholtz. But really it’s down to starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija and Gregg. Samardzija has a lot of K’s, but a losing record (5-7). Gregg has been great out of the pen. For the Padres, the two candidates are up the middle: Cabrera or rookie Jedd Gyroko. Both deserving to represent the Padres, but the Tulowitzki unlikely to play (opening a roster spot for the Nationals’ Ian Desmond), Cabrera seems like the smart choice. As for the rest, Lee and Locke are solid choices. Romo is the easiest Giants selection for Bochy to defend (and if you go back to second half of 2012 plus the postseason, it’s not a bad pick). Rosario would be the third catcher (always a must in an All-Star game), and sluggers Brown and Craig round out the team.
Bochy will get to select the five candidates for the fans to vote for the last roster spot. All of these five players are deserving. Carpenter could have been picked over Scutaro. Choo or Bruce over Brown. Freeman over Craig. Soriano over Chapman. I don’t see Bochy opening up a spot on this vote for Yasiel Puig (unless MLB makes him). Bochy loves veterans, and is unlikely to open a spot for a guy who has been up for four weeks. And frankly, we agree with that thinking.
- Matt Carpenter, Cardinals
- Shin-Soo Choo, Reds
- Freddie Freeman, Braves
- Jay Bruce, Reds
- Rafael Soriano, Nationals
NOW FOR THE IF’S
Votto, Wright and Phillips are good bets to hold onto their leads. But if by chance they end up losing the vote, they will win on the players vote. The same is true for Molina if Posey makes a late surge. If Carpenter pulls off the upset at second base, that could bump Scutaro into a manager’s pick, bumping either Brown or Craig off the team and onto the Final Five vote (bumping Soriano off Final Five). While Scutaro is battling back issues and mallet finger — meaning he could use the break — I think Bochy would select him anyway, then maybe just give him a pinch-hitting opportunity in the All-Star Game.
Upton holds a narrow lead over Bryce Harper for the final outfield spot. I don’t think either makes the team if they don’t win the voting. Upton got off to a torrid start, but has cooled WAY down since and is hitting below .250. Harper has just been activated after spening a month on the DL. Matt Holliday and McCutchen are within striking distance in the voting, and don’t count out Hunter Pence (in 7th in voting) if Giants fans get out the vote again.