Why Mike Krukow compares World Series champion Nationals to 2010 Giants


Why Mike Krukow compares World Series champion Nationals to 2010 Giants

There's a one in 30 chance your favorite team just won the World Series. The Nationals celebrated accordingly Saturday in Washington D.C. during the parade among fans while indulging in libations and toting around their trophy.

Brian Dozier remained shirtless throughout the event, but that's another article.

Does that ring a bell? Subtracting out Dozier baring it all, perhaps the season the Nats gave us is reminiscent of that to the 2010 Giants. At least according to NBC Sports Bay Area broadcast Mike Krukow.

"I think it's the essence of our sport," Krukow told The Athletic's Tim Kawakami on The TK Show. "I loved everything about what they did starting around August when they came to play the Giants, and they swept the Giants -- a three-game series in San Francisco, and you could feel the chemistry start to build."

The Giants broadcaster said everything from the way the Nationals carried themselves to beating Josh Hader -- which is not an easy task -- to winning a title for a city that was desperately in need, reminded him of that '10 squad.

"It's just a cool thing when you can do that for your fans and you can deliver with all the hope and all the prayers -- and the way they did it, come on they win four road games to clinch the championship -- it was just what baseball is -- it's the essence of what baseball is. It was a beautiful thing to watch and I'm just sitting here tingling this morning after the whole thing went down."

That season for the Orange and Black almost a decade ago was a memorable one. It not only began the "even year" trend, but the team would defeat the Texas Rangers in Game 5 to win their first championship since 1954 when the team was the New York Giants.

Whether or not it took that long because of an alleged hex fans put on the franchise after relocating to San Francisco remained a theory of the past.

Nobody saw that coming, just as the storyline read for the Nationals. 

[RELATED: Giants roster turnover in 2019 historic, but led to keepers]

Buster Posey would go on to win the NL Rookie of the Year Award and we were able to witness the phenomenal abilities of Tim Lincecum.

Ahh ... memories.

Why Gabe Kapler sees signs of life with Pablo Sandoval's latest swings

Why Gabe Kapler sees signs of life with Pablo Sandoval's latest swings

It was just a single, and Pablo Sandoval ended up standing on first and watching three straight teammates strike out. But his hit in the second inning Tuesday might have been one of the more well-timed ones of his second stint with the Giants. 

All MLB teams have to cut from 30 to 28 players on Thursday morning, and with that deadline looming, it was not hard to look at Sandoval's stat line and see a potentially tough decision coming for the front office. Sandoval still has just three hits in 26 at-bats, and he's not being used in a versatile role. Regardless, manager Gabe Kapler stuck him right back in the lineup, noting that there were signs of life in Tuesday's loss. 

"Last night was a really good signal with respect to his swing," Kapler said on a Zoom call Wednesday morning. "He really crushed some balls, crushed them on the ground, and ultimately in a perfect world you're able to elevate the balls that you hit hardest, and when he's at his best that's exactly what he's doing. What we've seen with Pablo has been a slow progression towards his good swing."

Sandoval is working with the new staff to get his legs more involved, and on Tuesday he certainly looked more like his old self. In that first at-bat he pulled a 95 mph pitch from German Marquez into right field at 109 mph. He flied out to deep left in the fourth, and then grounded out twice, including a double play. But those two grounders left the bat at 104.7 mph and 108.7. 

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

It's hard to tell what the Giants will do with Thursday's moves, especially since their need for 15 pitchers is still there, but it can't be a comfortable time for players who are slumping or pigeonholed, as Sandoval has been. He has not played third base yet, with Donovan Solano a preferred option as Evan Longoria's backup. He also has just five plate appearances against left-handed pitchers. 

"We have a lot of options to hit lefties, from Solano to (Wilmer) Flores to Darin Ruf to (Austin) Slater to (Mauricio) Dubon," Kapler said. "We've got a lot of guys who are really equipped to take down at-bats against lefties. It's a little bit thinner when we're facing a right-handed pitcher."

[RELATED: Nolan Arenado continues to crush Giants]

Kapler still believes Sandoval is one of his best late-game options against tough righties, and on Wednesday he should get three or four more at-bats to prove if his swing is coming back. He is the DH against hard-throwing righty Jon Gray, and Kapler sounded confident in the choice. 

"We kind of evaluate Pablo very similarly to the way we evaluated him when we came out of our secondary camp," Kapler said. 

Madison Bumgarner's D-backs career has started with troubling trend

Madison Bumgarner's D-backs career has started with troubling trend

The Giants had a decision to make last year as the July 31 trade deadline neared. Do they trade Madison Bumgarner, their longtime ace and postseason hero, during Bruce Bochy's final season as manager? Or do they hold on to him and compete for a wild-card berth? 

President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi ultimately held on to Bumgarner, but the Giants came back down to reality after a red-hot July and fell well short of the NL Wild Card Game. When it came to free agency, however, Zaidi and the rest of the Giants' front office weren't willing to give Bumgarner his desired contract. The big lefty still stayed in the NL West, signing a five-year, $85 million contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Through three stats, though, Bumgarner has shown a troubling trend in the desert. His velocity has continued to dip, and he now has a 7.04 ERA after allowing eight runs (seven earned) over 4 1/3 innings Tuesday against the Houston Astros. Bumgarner leads baseball in earned runs allowed (12) and hit by pitches (four). 

After a three-year run of his four-seam fastball dropping in velocity, Bumgarner was back up to 91.4 mph last season for the Giants. But his fastball velocity so far for the D-backs is back down. And it's a big drop. 

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Bumgarner's average four-seam fastball this season is just 87.9 mph, according to Baseball Savant. Despite not being a flamethrower on the hill, Bumgarner still has found ways to be effective in past seasons. He did have a career-high 3.90 ERA last season, but that number is far from concerning.

Again, the sample size is only three games so far in 2020. Still, it has been a concerning start. 

The recently-turned 31-year-old is averaging a career-low 6.5 strikeouts per nine innings while also allowing career-highs in walks per nine (3.5) and homers per nine (1.8). 

Bumgarner threw 83 pitches Tuesday against the Astros. Not one was recorded at 90 mph. The highest-velocity pitch Bumgarner threw was an 89.3 mph fastball to Yuli Gurriel. That was his only pitch that even reached 89 mph, too.

His fastball has reached career-low levels in each of his three starts this season.

While Bumgarner just turned 31, he has an unbelievable amount of wear and tear on his left arm. Since he became a regular at 20 years old for the Giants in 2010, Bumgarner averaged 184 innings pitched in the regular season, and that includes two shortened seasons to freak injuries. Including the playoffs, Bumgarner already has 1,963 2/3 innings pitched to his name.

[RELATED: Giants' Bart refining skill Posey mastered, Kapler says]

The Giants used their Bumgarner compensation pick in the 2020 MLB Draft on NC State lefty Nick Swiney, who already comes in as the Giants' No. 17 prospect in MLB Pipeline's most recent update. It's unfair to forever connect him to a franchise icon, but that will be true of his situation, good or bad, throughout his career. There's no minor league season for Swiney to get off to a good start, though it's clear the Giants have high hopes in someone who went 4-0 with a 1.29 ERA before his college season came to a close this year.

No matter what the future holds for Bumgarner or Swiney, Giants fans never will forget MadBum's many postseason heroics. The fact is, early on in Bumgarner's Arizona tenure, there seems to be good reason for the "Trust in Farhan" crowd to grow.