It’s 2016, so that means it’s time for the San Francisco Giants to make their biennial run at the title. While they scuffled hard in the second half of the season, there is plenty to like about this Giants squad in October and plenty of reason to believe they can turn around their scuffles to get ahold of that Even Year B.S.
First, there’s the Even Year B.S. Not the mystical, magical force that EYBS encapsulates, but instead the world series experience. For the 25 guys likely to be on the roster as the Giants take on the Mets, there are thirty-three World Series rings earned just with the Giants. That includes six players who have earned three rings with the squad. The six that have gotten the trifecta are important here: Buster Posey and five pitchers. That’s a ton of World Series experience that Buster Posey has had the privilege of working with over the last half-decade to know their stuff and what does and doesn’t work. In the playoffs when every pitch matters, Posey’s intimate knowledge of the staff’s repertoire definitely won’t hurt. The offensive core (Posey, Belt, Crawford, Pence, Pagan) has also been around for two rings. There’s a lot of playoff and World Series experience there.
The Giants have also overcome every type of adversity a team can face in the playoffs, and they passed the tests. Down 0-2 in a best-of-five series? They got this. Need to just go home in an 18-inning contest? They got this. Need to tie it up in a hurry in a single-elimination game? They got this. Need to take the ball three times in a seven-game series? They got this. They’ve been there, done that, and collected three rings in the process.
Second, the much maligned pitching staff and ended the season on an upswing. After cumulative ERAs of 4.09 and 4.01 in July and August, the Giants spent September dropping that ERA over half a run per game, taking it to 3.40. This timeframe was also the best of the season for their strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.91), as well as their best opponent OPS (.646) since May’s 0.648.
The pitching was a huge bugaboo for the Giants in the second half and was a big reason for their scuffling. They’ve been much better over the last month, including posting the first back-to-back-to-back 10+ strikeout games from Giants starters since 1975 just about two weeks ago. Coming in hot into the playoffs will bode well for them.
Finally, the Giants’ rotation also gives them a distinct leg-up on other squads. The Giants’ pitching staff legitimately goes four deep with Bumgarner and Cueto taking the baseball twice in a seven-game series.
That might be enough for the Giants to win four games right there, but in-season acquisition Matt Moore could just be the difference between the Giants taking it deep into a series and the Giants winning that series. Moore has had two disastrous starts with the Giants, which gives him an inflated ERA. Giving up 12 runs in 3.2 IP will have that negative effect.
However, in his twelve starts with the Giants, Moore has yielded two runs or fewer in eight contests, including 15.2 innings of two-run ball in his last two starts, wherein he got 17 Ks and walked two. I don’t have to give you Johnny Cueto and Madison Bumgarner’s pedigrees. Their staff is formidable, and Bochy isn’t afraid to lean on them to get the Giants a ring.
Let’s not forget the Giants have Madison Bumgarner, who transforms into the greatest pitcher in the history of baseball when October hits.
The Giants are the perfect mix of talent and experience to get the ring for the fourth time in seven years. It won’t be an easy battle but their collective experience and pitching staff that improved statistically down the stretch mean good things for the Giants this postseason.