This article really should have been written yesterday. But I have to admit, despite more than a decade of journalism experience, I might have possibly infused some emotional response into it, so I refrained until I calmed down and could objectively discuss what the San Francisco Giants are going to do without Hunter Pence in the lineup.
You see, first I had to figure out what I was going to do without Pence in my two fantasy lineups. And I just traded for him in one of my leagues, so I only got to benefit from his high-level production for a couple days. Plus, I just picked up Matt Cain before his last start, having been encouraged by his previous three starts. So, like the Giants, I’ve also been hit hard by the injury bug.
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I’ll get by, but will the Giants? Albert Suarez pitched well in his first career Major League start Wednesday, filling in quite nicely for Cain—at least for five innings. The sixth inning got a bit dicey. That’s quite alright, though, for a team’s sixth starter, especially one who’s never done it before at this level.
But the Giants are now down two starting outfielders, thanks to Pence’s injury and the first in the series of Giants hammy pulls, that of Angel Pagan. Pagan, who has been out since May 23, could be back within a week or so. His main fill-in, Gregor Blanco, isn’t much of a downgrade. But Pence’s injury was more severe, both for Pence’s leg—he is likely out for more than a month—and the Giants lineup.
Pence has been, by far, the Giants’ best offensive player this year. The loss could be more easily absorbed in a more potent lineup, but the Giants have been struggling to score runs lately, despite all the winning they’ve been doing. So it’s expected the offense will struggle even more without Pence.
Jarrett Parker will fill Pence’s spot in the lineup, a scenario that could go in two possible directions. This is a great opportunity for the rookie, who has proven all he can in Triple-A the past couple seasons by showing off his immense power. So if he produces over the next month, he could help solve the Giants’ power shortcomings and convince the team to give him regular playing time in left field upon Pence’s return. Or, the league could figure him out quickly and show why the Giants have suspected all along that he would struggle above Triple-A.
Of course, as I’m writing about how mediocre the Giants offense is, I’m watching them rip three home runs in an inning against the Atlanta Braves.
Two of the home runs came off the bats of Joe Panik and Buster Posey, the two Giants who most need to step up to carry the offense in Pence’s absence. So, at least they’re proving up to the task, at least in the first post-Pence game. Madison Bumgarner hit (sent into orbit) the inning’s other round-tripper.
Really, is that bad of an idea to work Bumgarner’s bat into the lineup more regularly? He hasn’t hit as well this year as he did in the past couple seasons, but with two home runs so far in 2016, he’s obviously still a threat with the bat. This isn’t hyperbole: he’s one of the Giants’ best hitters. It’s unconventional, to say the least, but it’s not crazy to explore whether he can field a position during a couple of his off-days.