Giants' success starts with rotation: 'As much potential as anybody's'


Giants' success starts with rotation: 'As much potential as anybody's'

SAN FRANCISCO -- The last time the Cubs visited AT&T Park, the Giants gave them a reminder that for all the talent lined up in a dugout, there is always a great equalizer: starting pitching. Matt Moore nearly dragged the Giants back to Chicago, and the Cubs have been open about how terrified they were of facing Johnny Cueto in a winner-take-all game. 

This series provided a similar reminder. The Giants face an overall talent deficit most days, and they are a heavily flawed team, but they can still compete in the National League if they have a strong rotation. A day after Ty Blach held the Cubs down, Madison Bumgarner did the heavy lifting in a 3-1 win.

"That's going to be critical for us to get this rotation back to who we are," manager Bruce Bochy said. "That's our strength and it got away from us this year. That's who we are. It's going to be important that we throw the ball well the next six to seven weeks."

That process has started already. The Giants are 6-3 in August with a 2.85 ERA that would be even shinier if not for Matt Moore's continued struggles. Blach has five consecutive starts of at least seven innings and he has a 3.00 ERA over that span. Since returning from the disabled list, Bumgarner has gone at least 6 1/3 innings in every start except for one where he was pulled early in a blowout so he could return four days later in place of Matt Cain. He has a 2.52 ERA in the second half. 

"I really thought he would come back and be pretty much the same guy we've always seen," Bochy said. "His stuff is the same, his command -- everything is just right there."

Bumgarner was never particularly concerned. During a rehab assignment, he was confident he would return to his old self. The key for the Giants now is to get others to the same point. They will run Matt Moore back out there in hopes of him finding a solution. They believe Jeff Samardzija's peripherals will lead to better hard results. Johnny Cueto is expected back, and expected to be much better.

That is a path to being better. Wednesday's game also showed how narrow it is. Even with Bumgarner's performance, the Giants needed some defensive sloppiness from the Cubs to actually get the late lead. But if you're looking for a reason why the Giants should be competitive next year, here it is.

"I know we've had a couple of rough spots here and there," Bumgarner said, "But this staff has got as much potential as anybody's. The thing about potential is it doesn't do you any good -- you've got to go out and do it, and that's what we're working to do."

Former Giants infielder replaces Dodgers' star shortstop on NLCS roster


Former Giants infielder replaces Dodgers' star shortstop on NLCS roster

LOS ANGELES — Shortstop Corey Seager has been left off the Los Angeles Dodgers' roster for the NL Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs.

The Dodgers announced Seager's surprise omission due to a back injury on Saturday, several hours before Game 1 at Dodger Stadium.

Los Angeles also dropped reliever Pedro Baez from its roster. Infielder Charlie Culberson and outfielder Joc Pederson were added.

Chicago made only one change from the last playoff round, adding reliever Hector Rondon and removing reliever Justin Wilson.

Seager complained of back soreness during the Dodgers' NL Division Series clincher in Arizona on Monday, and 2016 NL Rookie of the Year didn't participate in team workouts this week. Still, manager Dave Roberts said Friday that he was very optimistic that Seager would play in the NLCS.

Seager was an All-Star selection this season while batting .295 with 22 homers and 77 RBIs as a key part of the top of the Dodgers' lineup.

Kike Hernandez, Chris Taylor and Culberson all worked out at shortstop Friday for the Dodgers. The versatile Taylor was the Dodgers' center fielder during the NLDS, but he made 96 appearances in the outfield this season and 44 in the infield, including 14 games at shortstop.

Pederson is batting .071 with no homers since July, but the Dodgers could need him in center field if Taylor plays shortstop.

Culberson famously homered to clinch the Dodgers' NL West title in announcer Vin Scully's final home game last season, but the infielder spent most of this season at Triple-A, appearing in only 14 games for the Dodgers.

Rondon was the Cubs' closer in 2014 and 2015, but moved to a setup role last season after Aroldis Chapman's arrival. He appeared in 61 regular-season games this year, going 4-1 with a 4.24 ERA in an up-and-down campaign.

Chicago acquired Wilson in a trade with Detroit on July 31, adding a veteran left-handed reliever who had 13 saves for the Tigers this season. The Southern California native wasn't great in his two months with the Cubs, posting a 5.09 ERA with 19 walks in 23 appearances.

Manager Joe Maddon chose Wilson for the NLDS over Rondon, only to switch it up against the Dodgers.

Bochy, Giants issue statement following manager's heart procedure


Bochy, Giants issue statement following manager's heart procedure

Bruce Bochy's minor offseason heart procedure went as planned, the team announced Friday afternoon. 

In a message passed along to beat reporters, Bochy said "the procedure went extremely well and I'm feeling better. I'm grateful for the doctors and want to thank everyone who has reached out with well wishes."

Bochy, 62, had an ablation procedure to help him deal with heart issues that have plagued him in recent years. The operation was his second of the year, but it was considered minor enough that it could be pushed back to the end of the season.

Cleveland's Terry Francona had a similar procedure this year and returned to manage, and Bochy has left no doubt about his future. 

“I don’t want anyone to think this has an effect on my work, or ability to work,” Bochy said last week. “This is something that is not uncommon.”