The Astros will begin a two-game-set with the San Francisco Giants this evening. The Giants will send their resident ace, Madison Bumgarner, to the mound in an attempt to end their losing streak in this crucial month. However, the Astros should be aware of just one thing; this a very different Giants team to the one we are accustomed to.
These Giants can actually hit.
Contrary to the blueprint which has seen the Giants secure three World Series in the past five years, the current roster has hit itself into contention. Leading all of baseball in offensive/defensive WAR, surprisingly, the Giants have seriously lacked pitching -- they rank 25th in baseball in pitching WAR.
Together, Matt Duffy, Brandon Crawford, Joe Panik and Brandon Belt form what is, arguably, the best infield in baseball, currently (that said, Panik is currently on the DL). Crawford, Panik and Duffy -- even though Duffy has only accumulated 385 plate appearances -- all rank among the top 25 position players in baseball this season, and Belt ranks not too far behind; a still impressive, 35th.
Oh, not forgetting Buster Posey. Yeah, he's having an MVP-esque season. Third in the National League in WAR, sixth in wRC+ and seventh in wOBA. Not to mention the fact he's doing this from the squat; playing excellent defense behind the dish. Aoki and Pence, despite missing playing time, are on pace to post two/three win seasons, too.
Their offense and defense are extremely good, even with Angel Pagan hitting leadoff and playing centre field. The same Angel Pagan who has been one of the worst players in baseball this season. Alas! Onto the good news; their pitching is horrendous. Really, really bad. The Astros' offense is great. Really, really great. Sounds like a lot of fun?
Unfortunately, tonight, Bumgarner will start, and tomorrow, Chris Heston will start; the only two bright sparks in an otherwise atrocious rotation (with Mike Leake on the DL, that is). Bumgarner, I'll not insult your intelligence, you all know what the man is capable of.
Heston, on the other hand, is lesser known commodity. With a FIP of 3.37, BB/9 of 2.61 and a GB% of 55.2, Heston has been great this season, in his rookie year. With a nasty sinker, the only thing keeping him from having an even better season is his inconsistency; with the rookie starter, you just don't know what you're going to get.
Regardless of the inconsistency, Heston has the ability to tear down lineups, as seen during his no-hitter this season. Point of this article? The schedule hasn't been too kind for the Astros. The Giants are an offensive machine but a pitching liability; except for these two games.
This is a different Giants team to the one we know; but you mightn't even realise. Sorry, everyone.