Theriot breaks down Cueto; Blanco to call Melky


Theriot breaks down Cueto; Blanco to call Melky

SAN FRANCISCO The Giants cued up plenty of video onright-hander Johnny Cueto, who takes the mound Saturday night in Game 1 of theNLDS at AT&T Park.

That isn't their only source of information, though. In fact, the player whohas faced Cueto more than any other major league hitter has a locker in the middle of the Giants clubhouse.

Ryan Theriot wont be in the Giants' starting lineup for Game 1. Not even JoeMorgan would start at second base right now over Marco Scutaro, who has a .436average over his 20-game hitting streak.

NEWS: Game 1 lineups

But Theriot is a .302 hitter in 43 career at-bats against Cueto, and he isdoing his best to let teammates know what to expect from the Reds 19-gamewinner.

Well, for one, he stops the running game, Theriot said.Hes got a good move. And hes one of those guys who throws right-on-rightchangeups. So that makes him tough. Hes one of those guys if you get a pitchto hit, youd better hit it. Because you probably wont get it again.

You cant try to do too much. You really cant.

Theriot has a homer and two doubles among his 13 hitsagainst Cueto. The only other Giant with more than 10 at-bats against him isHunter Pence, who is a .276 hitter (8-for-29) with 11 strikeouts.

But Pence isnt putting much stock into those numbers.

Thats because I havent faced him in two years and whathes doing now is a lot different, Pence said. He added a hitch, a timingthing. Ive been looking at it on video. Last time I saw him, he was throwing95 with a slider. That changeup is something hes added. At least, I haventseen it.

Pence watched video of hits off Cueto, to see what pitchesthey came on and where they went. The pitcher gave up his share while postingan 8.22 ERA over three consecutive losses in early September, but ended theseason with three cleaner outings.

Theriot remembers a pitcher who keeps the ball off the barrelwith a late-moving fastball.

When he throws his fastball down and away, itll stayaway, Theriot said. Hes got that run to it. I dont think he tries to do it.Thats just how it moves. And his sinker, he can run in on your hands.

Hes a little more susceptible to left-handed hitters, whobatted 59 points higher (.279). So hell be keying on switch hitters AngelPagan and Pablo Sandoval. First baseman Brandon Belt looms as another X-factor.

Right or left, Cueto isnt afraid to throw any pitch at anytime.

Most pitchers you can try to game-plan and look forpatterns, Theriot said. With a guy like him, youre almost better offpatterning the catcher. He doesnt repeat pitches too often.

Pence said he might check out some of those Theriot-Cuetoconfrontations on video.

You cant go dead red on Theriot, Pence said, smiling.Hell take you deep.

Gregor Blanco already saved Matt Cains perfect game withone of baseballs most outstanding catches of 2012. Now he hopes to be an assetagain as he starts in left field behind Cain in Game 1 of the NL DivisionSeries.

Hes worked real hard for everything hes gotten and hedefinitely deserves it, Cain said. Its definitely good to have him in theoutfield running stuff down for us.

Its like running down a dream for Blanco, who was a non-rosterinvitee this spring after playing for the Washington Nationals Triple-A clublast season.

I never thought I was even going to make this team, Blancosaid. Now, this feels great. I thank the Giants so much for giving me thisopportunity and this experience. It gives me a lot of confidence to go out andsupport my teammates.

Blanco planned to lend support to one former teammate,suspended outfielder Melky Cabrera, who is eligible to return should the Giantsadvance beyond a fifth game this postseason. The club already has declared thatCabrera will not rejoin the roster.

Cabrera hasnt spoken to most of his teammates following hisAug. 15 suspension for testing positive for testosterone.

Blanco said he knew Cabrera would be watching Game 1, though. He planned tocall him before the first pitch Saturday.

Im going to try to get in touch with him, Blanco said.

The Giants had an uplifting experience before their flighttook off from Los Angeles Wednesday night. Prior to boarding their charter, theteam was allowed to take pictures of Space Shuttle Endeavour as it sat parked inan adjacent hangar at LAX.

Projection system loves Giancarlo Stanton at AT&T Park


Projection system loves Giancarlo Stanton at AT&T Park

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants have made a habit in recent winters of “kicking the tires,” so to speak, on as many free agents as possible. General manager Bobby Evans is committed to being thorough, but at times there is probably no need. 

Hitters have made no secret of the fact that they prefer friendlier confines, and if you’re a power hitter, you’re going to ask Evans for a significantly larger check to play 81 of your games at the harshest power park in the majors. That’s what makes Giancarlo Stanton, readily available via trade, so intriguing. But would Stanton be fully immune to the realities of AT&T Park?

The numbers, at least in a small sample, suggest he would. Stanton has played 27 games in San Francisco and taken 108 at-bats. He has nine homers, 11 doubles and a triple. His .676 slugging percentage at AT&T Park isn’t far off his mark at Coors Field (.714), and his 1.048 OPS is higher than his OPS during the 2017 season, when he hit 59 homers. 

The damage has been done in limited time, but the Giants clearly believe it’s fully sustainable, and a recent study done by ESPN’s Dan Szymborski backs that up. Szymborski ran his ZiPS projection system to estimate Stanton’s stats over the next 10 years for a variety of suitors. The numbers in orange and black are overwhelming. 

The projections have Stanton at 46.2 WAR over the next 10 seasons, including 7.1 in 2018 and 6.8 in 2019, the two seasons the organization should be focused on given Madison Bumgarner’s contract situation. ZiPS projects Stanton at 46 homers next season if he plays for the Giants, followed by 43, 42, 39, 35 over the following four years. For comparison’s sake, Brandon Belt led the Giants in homers each of the last two seasons and he has 35 total during that span. 

Any sort of projection system needs to be taken with a huge grain of salt, especially with a player who has had injury issues in the past. But ZiPS believes Stanton -- who plays in a huge park already -- is a rarity, the kind of power hitter who can keep crushing well into his 30’s and put up huge numbers even if he is limited by the realities of getting older and getting hurt. Szymborski’s projections have Stanton playing just 102 games in 2025, but he’s still projected to hit 23 homers, 20 doubles and post an OPS+ of 121. Even in the 10th year of the projections, ZiPS has Stanton down for 16 homers. 

There are no sure things in this game, but as Evans continues to chase a blockbuster deal, he can be confident that Stanton is one player who should be able to provide power for years to come, no matter what AT&T Park does to hold hitters down. 

Former A's slugger Gomes offers Ohtani scouting report: 'Big fan of the dude'


Former A's slugger Gomes offers Ohtani scouting report: 'Big fan of the dude'

Former A's left fielder/DH and Bay Area native, Jonny Gomes, last played Major League Baseball in 2015. The next year, Gomes looked to continue his career in Japan with the Rakuten Golden Eagles. 

Gomes struggled in Japan, batting just .169 in 18 games. While in Japan though, Gomes saw firsthand the two-way talent of Shohei Ohtani. 

"The dude throws 100 miles per hour consistently," Gomes said Tuesday to MLB Network Radio. "That plays."

With MLB, the Players Association, and the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization agreeing to a new posting system, Ohtani should soon be available as a free agent to MLB teams. Gomes was adamant that Ohtani will live up to the hype. 

"If you have the arm speed to throw 100 miles per hour, guess what your slider's gonna do -- yikes. And he also has a split, which is yikes with that arm speed. And he also has a changeup, and he also has a curveball. You're talking about five plus, plus, plus pitches.

"If he was in the draft, I think it would be a no-brainer right now that he'd be No. 1 overall," Gomes said. 

Since turning pro as an 18-year-old, Ohtani has been a dominant force on the mound. The 6-foot-3 right-hander owns a 42-15 career record with a 2.52 ERA and 1.076 WHIP. 

What makes Ohtani, 23, so intriguing is that he's not only the best pitcher in Japan, he may be the best hitter too. In 2017, Ohtani hit .332 with eight home runs in 65 games. The left fielder/DH owns a .286/.358/.500 career slash line with 48 home runs. 

"Now hitting wise, is it gonna transfer, is it not? I've seen the dude hit a fly ball that hit the roof of the Tokyo Dome," Gomes remembers. "So, what does that tell you? That bat speed's there, that power's there, that he's generating a lot out front.

"To be able to hit the roof of the Tokyo Dome is way more impressive than hitting any other roof in the states. It would be like hitting the roof in Seattle when it was closed, it's way up there."

Everyone knows about Ohtani off-the-charts talent. The stats are there. What we don't know as much about is his personality. Gomes does and he believes his leadership will make him be a star in the states. 

"I'm a big fan of the dude," Gomes says. "I saw his work ethic, I saw how players treated him, I saw how respectful he was. Over there it's all about seniority. Granted he was the biggest star on the field at any given moment, but still gave the utmost respect to seniority guys on his ball club."