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Giants Overreactions: Can SF make push in loaded NL West? originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Through two road trips and one homestand, the Giants are the opposite of who we thought they would be. Their rotation, rebuilt over the offseason, has been one of the best in the Majors, but they rank 25th in runs despite adding Buster Posey -- who looks like his old self -- and Tommy La Stella to a lineup that was pretty good in 2020.
This isn't how we thought they would play, but it has added up to a hot start nonetheless. The Giants are 11-7 heading into a nice, cushy homestand -- four against the Marlins and three against the Rockies -- and have a hold on second place in the NL West. It's a good time, then, for our first in-season edition of Giants Overreactions. Here are some thoughts from fans on the hot start and what's to come, with my reactions to their reactions (for more, check out today's Giants Talk Podcast):
"We could maybe be in this if we still had a bullpen." -- nikki_tkv
Hey, they are in this! At least for now. But it's a good point, and one many brought up when I asked some followers for their thoughts on the start of the year. Another (@zt_1228) suggested that the Giants should call up veteran right-hander Dominic Leone, who has been striking just about everyone out at the alternate site.
I agree with that one, and the general point that the bullpen needs help. It's not just that it's too left-handed, it's that it's filled with left-handers who really aren't trusted in big spots. That's forced Tyler Rogers into 11 appearances and Jake McGee into 10, which isn't sustainable. Kapler was without both on Wednesday and it might have cost the Giants the game.
Camilo Doval looks like a part of the solution, and Leone has had big league success before. One of Kervin Castro or Gregory Santos -- who is hitting 101 mph in Sacramento -- might soon be able to team with Doval. Perhaps Caleb Baragar, who hasn't given up an earned run since last August, will get higher-leverage innings.
The pieces are there to have a better bullpen, but thus far the group has been inconsistent.
"I like the momentum and getting more wins earlier in the season. But injuries may ruin it." -- joshwertheim
The Giants are off to their best start since going 15-2 to kick off the 2003 season, which is huge. It seems like they spent all of 2019 and 2020 digging out of early holes. The second part here is the key, though.
Over a span of about 20 hours, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford and Donovan Solano came out of games with muscle injuries. Belt was fine and it doesn't seem like there was that much concern about Crawford, but Solano will likely miss at least a few weeks.
This is the oldest group of position players in MLB by nearly a full year, and guys are going to go down, chipping away at what the Giants have done well: Wearing opponents down with their deep bench. When talking about the Solano injury, Gabe Kapler seemed more concerned about his bench than anything. The rotation also lacks depth beyond the big league level.
The Giants were remarkably healthy on opening day and need to stay that way to keep this hot start going.
"Looks like it will be an exciting season! Enjoying the mix of familiar and new guys -- run for the wild card!" -- elizlk
Overreaction? Not at all
You know what, this team is fun to watch, and that matters!
The Giants lost Wednesday, but I'm guessing a bunch of fans jumped off their couches when Darin Ruf wiped out a three-run deficit with one massive swing. They're tied for second in the majors in homers, and that's a lot of fun for the fan base, and a HUGE difference from the 2017-2019 seasons.
Throwing someone like Doval into the mix has certainly fired up a lot of fans, and more young players will be mixed in over the next five months. Tyler Beede's return should be fun to watch, and Heliot Ramos is looming ...
"Giants will finish second in the division!" -- llstuj1992
If you watched any of Dodgers-Padres last weekend, you know that San Diego is pretty damn competitive with the best team in the league. The Padres are two games behind the Giants at the moment, and they've dealt with some bad injury luck, including with Fernando Tatis Jr., who has been worth 0.0 WAR through three weeks. That's not going to continue.
Assuming Tatis stays on the field, the Padres are going to figure this out. The caveat here is that they may just be somewhat cursed -- they lost Mike Clevinger to Tommy John and Dinelson Lamet looks headed for surgery, too. Injuries are going to bring them back to the pack a little, but there's a huge reason why I don't think they'll have to worry about their playoff spot. A.J. Preller went all-in with this group and he'll be motivated to keep adding before the trade deadline.
"Jake McGee is not the closer by the end of May." -- gomebabe
Barring an injury, McGee isn't losing that job anytime soon. It won't always be as easy as it looked in the first couple weeks, but he's their best option, and they really only have one other feasible choice in Rogers. I don't see Kapler making a change even if Rogers ends up being the more dominant pitcher.
Because of his rubber arm, Rogers is extremely valuable as someone who can get out of jams in the seventh and then continue through the eighth. McGee is more of your classic one-inning power arm.
"Kyle Harrison is the best pitcher the Giants have ever had." -- connorlittle
Overreaction? Yes, obviously, but also LOOK AT THIS VIDEO OF A 19-YEAR-OLD
Look, it's extremely early and he hasn't even played a pro game yet, but Harrison looks like he might be the steal of the 2020 draft. The Giants took the De La Salle product in the third round, knowing they could buy him out of a strong commitment to UCLA. He was a first-round talent, according to a lot of scouts, and he has taken big steps since the draft.
Harrison was more of a low 90s arm before the draft, but he was up to 97 mph in instructs and has added on (he also appears to have bulked up). When you watch that clip, don't you see a young Chris Sale?
Becoming the best Giants pitcher of the last dozen years would be close to impossible, because this is an organization that has had Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain and Pablo Sandoval on the mound. But Harrison certainly has the stuff to be an ace, and the Giants desperately need a couple of guys (Harrison and Seth Corry, maybe?) to develop into top-of-the-rotation options.