Scott Feldman: gone to Baltimore. Matt Garza: rode out into the sunset to join the Rangers. Alfonso Soriano: back in pinstripes. Nate Schierholtz and his .367 wOBA: still a Cub, and has been getting the playing time he’s looked for with Chicago. This depleting of major league talent would give you the impression that the Giants should have a significant advantage over the Cubbies this weekend, but watching the Giants in 2013, such a thing cannot be cashed in so early. The Giants come in to the weekend a half game better than the Cubs in the W-L column, but with Chicago being 17.5 GB of the division leading Cardinals and 12.5 GB of the second Wild Card spot holding Reds, it’s hard to argue with the decision of the Cubs management to sell off their pieces and build up for the future. As the Giants are 7 GB of the Dodgers, you figure they will not be doing a whole lot of buying, unless the Dodgers get swept by Cincinnati, the Padres beat up on the Diamondbacks, and the Giants sweep the Cubs, then things may get slightly more interesting. The matchups for this weekend on the pitching front:
RHP Edwin Jackson (3.62 FIP, 5.03 ERA) vs. RHP Matt Cain (4.15 FIP, 5.00 ERA)
Jackson’s ground ball rate is the highest of his career at 53.6%, fly ball rate the lowest of his career at 26.2%, but congratulations on your 5+ ERA anyway, Mr. Jackson. He does have a BABIP of .315 in 2013 which is a little higher than average, but his left on base percentage is at the lowest at 61.4%. Want to get the “he doesn’t know how to win” narrative going? In so-called “high leverage” situations, Jackson has a slash line against of .458/.556/.696 and a .527 wOBA. Holy moly. Matt Cain has had trouble leaving the ducks on the pond as well relative to his career, 64.1%, more than five percentage points lower than his previous low in 2006. Cain has a streak of three games in a row where he has thrown less than 6.0 innings. Before that streak, he had only thrown in less than six innings in two of his starts in 2013.
LHP Chris Rusin vs. LHP Madison Bumgarner (3.24 FIP, 2.93 ERA)
The kid for Chicago only has had two starts this year, so don’t mind that I don’t include his stats like I will with the others. He has thrown 3.1, and 5.0 IP respectively in his first two starts, allowing two homers in his first start against Oakland, but kept the Diamondbacks in the park, yet surrendered all two of his walks to them. He has struck out six batters in his two starts. Bumgarner has more than two starts this year and has vaulted up to become the #1 in the rotation for San Francisco. You’ll remember I discussed the high leverage slash line against for Jackson, well for MadBum it’s .156/.250/.310 with a .238 wOBA, and he has only had 35 PA of such high leverage situations. He has had seven straight starts of exactly 7.0 IP.
LHP Travis Wood (3.67 FIP, 2.95 ERA) vs. RHP Tim Lincecum (3.64 FIP, 4.73 ERA)
Wood’s .233 BABIP against and low ERA have pushed him into the spotlight this year, earning him a spot on the National League All Star team. Since his first start in May, Wood has not gone longer than seven innings, and in his last two starts has seen eighteen hits get tacked on to his record, and has only struck out a grand total of three hitters in those games. Those were only the second and third time he had recorded so few strikeouts in 2013. Timmy, like every other starter, got roughed up by Cincinnati and everybody’s happy they’ve moved on to beat up on Los Angeles. Before then, we were seeing some progress in him dominating with thirty-two strikeouts in three starts against seven walks. Against an offense that’s not playoff-caliber, maybe we see Timmy be more Timmy on Sunday.
Jul 24, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs center fielder Junior Lake (21) in the tenth inning during a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Rookie to watch: The much hyped outfielder Junior Lake finally has a spot in the show and has gotten off to a fast start at the major leagues. A .547 wOBA and a .484/.500/.774 slash line in your first seven games and thirty-three plate appearances should give Giants pitchers motivation to try and put a rookie in their spot. Lake also has one stolen base in his very short major league career.
Series Prediction: I’m going to be reckless here and predict the Giants sweep the series, because the best time to win is right before the trade deadline. Since I have put this down, the Giants will probably get swept, and when I go to the game on Sunday, I will be crying tears into my 2010 Champions sweater that I will be sporting.