Here is a link to my Thursday column about the Giants. The full text runs below:
Forget Wednesday’s Giants game. They won 5-0 over the horrible Milwaukee Brewers, and it was a very good win.
Think about the Major League Baseball trading deadline that looms. It ends Friday at 1 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time. Before then, the Giants would be wise to get one more starting pitcher. Someone to put in the rotation. The Giants could make the postseason with what they have — probably. They have an excellent batting order, a world-class defense and great relief pitching. It’s the starting rotation that could cause acid reflux. And sometimes does. And the Giants need another pitcher.
Before I get to the acid reflux part, it’s important to praise Jake Peavy. He pitched six scoreless innings Wednesday and made you think — on a provisional basis — he is a solid starter, can be reliable and steady. Can win. He had been hurt. He came back from the Disabled List on July 3 and has pitched better and better.
Against Milwaukee he gave up just four hits and, when the crisis moment came — it almost always comes — he defeated it. He had put runners on first and second in a scoreless game. There were two outs. Ryan Braun (18 home runs) was at the plate. Acid reflux to the max.
Peavy could fall apart at that very moment. The Giants were worried. Hunter Strickland was hurrying up in the bullpen. The count on Braun went to 2-2. Then Peavy threw a cutter low and outside, threw the cutter as hard as he could. It was an impossible pitch to hit, and Braun flailed at it like someone trying to kill a mosquito with a redwood log. Clueless. Embarrassed. Strike three. Crisis averted. Peavy vindicated.
After the game, Peavy said he’s 100 percent healthy.
“I honestly feel I’m going to get stronger,” he said. “I’m starting to get up to the weight I’m used to pitching at. I’m five pounds shy of that now, but over the 200-pound mark for the first time in a while. That helps me sustain my strength, especially on hot days.”
Peavy is the pitcher the Giants need, but he is not enough. The Giants need a frontline starter. They want to deal based on what manager Bruce Bochy said before the game, although it’s unclear they can deal.
Picture Bochy sitting on the bench in the dugout before the game answering questions. Like: Are the Giants content to stand pat at the trading deadline?
“If there’s something out there that makes sense for this club, that’s going to make it better, they’ll do it,” Bochy said, referring to general manager Brian Sabean and the Sabettes. “They’re calling all the clubs now.”
A few minutes later, Bochy circled back to the subject. “If there were something that made sense and there’s a major deal, it would get done,” he said. “You’re talking major front-line starter or position player. Those talks are happening right now. I wouldn’t rule that out.”
If the skipper isn’t ruling out a major deal, neither should you.
Why do the Giants need a front-line starter? Because the guys they have now don’t add up to five.
Madison Bumgarner certainly is one starter, as in a No. 1. Maybe the best No. 1 in the business. But who is the Giants’ No. 2 starter? Really, who is it?
Chris Heston is a candidate. Fine pitcher. Exceeded expectations. But he is a rookie. And when August turns into September, Heston will find himself pitching more innings in more games than he’s pitched in his life. No one knows how a rookie does when the body aches and the arm shrieks for rest. So, sure, he’s in the rotation, but he’s not a lock at No.2.
Neither is Peavy. His work sample size is too small. He’s been vulnerable. And to a certain extent, he is still unknown.
But, OK, the Giants have three very good starters, although they lack an actual No. 2. What about No. 4 and No. 5? That’s where Bochy reaches for the Tums.
Matt Cain could be the fourth starter. The Giants sure pay him enough. They pay him to be the staff ace. But he has not pitched much in a year — not his fault. And although he looks good sometimes, he also looks bad sometimes. Gives up loud hits.
It will take Cain time to be Cain, to find his release point for various pitches. No guarantee he’ll work things out this season and become Matt Cain once again.
Tim Hudson never will be Tim Hudson. Not anymore. His stuff is deserting him. Mike Krukow expressed doubts about Hudson’s durability on a recent broadcast. When Krukow, the most positive man alive, doubts Hudson, you know the doubt is serious.
Don’t even think about Tim Lincecum. He’s allegedly hurt. If he still could pitch, he’d be in the rotation. The Giants gave him every chance and he is a goner.
After the game, I asked Bochy if the Giants need to add a starting pitcher. He was sitting on the postgame stage and he laughed. Just laughed. I took it to mean he’d give me the company line. He did.
“We have a couple of extra starters right now,” he said in a sincere voice. “It’s hard for me to get them all in there. Timmy’s on the DL, but Vogey (Ryan Vogelsong) is throwing the ball well. If something’s out there and it makes sense, they’ll do it. But I don’t want to go into that. I don’t want these pitchers to think we don’t have confidence in them, because we do. We have a lot of experience here. Right now, this is the club I’m concerned about, not about what could happen.”
OK, Bochy currently has too many starters. Lincecum, Hudson and Vogelsong are in the mix. The Giants are loyal to these men, and these men will bring them down.
Call the too-many-starters argument the scary illusion. Avoid it at all costs. Get a pitcher.
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