After a rough start to their 10-game road trip, the Miami Marlins finished out the trip well, winning two of the three games in their series against the Kansas City Royals. The team now returns home to start a 10-game homestand, beginning with the San Fransico Giants. The Marlins took three of four from the Giants earlier this season in San Fran.
To preview the series between the Giants and Marlins, I had an email chat with Eric Nathanson, a staff writer at the San Franciso Fansided Site, Around the Fog Horn. Mike and I chatted about everything from why the 2013 Giants have failed to defend their championship to if Eric believes Lincecum will be a Giant beyond this season.
Without any further ado, here is my chat with Eric:
Ehsan Kassim: What has been the main difference better the Giants team that won two of the last three world series and this team?
Eric Nathanson: There are a couple of reasons the Giants don’t look like the team that stormed back last October. A big one has been the injury to Angel Pagan. The Giants have struggled to score runs, and drive runners in. The top of the order hasn’t been getting on base, and when the Giants do have runners on, they get stranded time and again.
The bullpen has been a big difference as well. Ryan Vogelsong‘s injury back in May caused a ripple effect that the Giants never recovered from. Chad Gaudin became a starter and the team lost its long man. Since then the pen has not been right. They have posted a league high 6.00 ERA in August.
EK: Will Tim Lincecum be a Giant next season? What type of contract should he get on the open market?
EN: Would I like to see LIncecum in a Giants uniform next season? Absolutely. Will it happen is another story. He has been very effective as of late. If he continues to stay focused on the mound and avoid the big inning, I could see the Giants wanting him back.
If he goes to the open market, I can’t see any team giving him more than 3 years. I think that may be pushing it. He probably would have to settle for a 1 or 2 year deal at around 8 million. Do I think some team could overpay and give him 30 million for 3 years because he’s Tim Lincecum? Yeah, I think that could happen.
EK: After seeing Cain struggle in 2013, do you feel his massive extension was a mistake?
EN: I think the jury is still out on this one. Long contracts with starting pitchers are always a risk. We are watching the end of that with Barry Zito right now. While $20 million a year is a lot of money to be tied in to one player, particularly a pitcher, time still has to tell.
Matt Cain has logged a lot of innings over the last 3 years and it may just be catching up to him. He has had his share of dominant starts this season. Recently Cain has had 4 straight quality starts. Although, he also only lasted 2/3 of an inning just a few starts ago. I think 2014 will give Giants fans a chance to see a rested Cain and it may be a different story.
EK: The Marlins took 3 of 4 from the Giants in San Fran earlier this season, how is this team different from that one?
EN: First of all, the Giants team for that first Marlins series still had a fighting chance on the season. They were 2 games out and had a winning record when the Marlins came to town a few weeks ago. Then Miami took 3 of 4 and things went downward. A couple of games after that series the Giants fell below .500 and haven’t sniffed it since.
Marco Scutaro is the new leadoff man, Gregor Blanco and Andres Torres were not getting it done. The Giants have had a hole in LF all season. Right now it’s a rotating door between Jeff Francouer and Roger Kieschnick. Buster Posey has not been as sharp with the bat and Pablo Sandoval is now hitting 6th in the lineup after a rough start to August.
EK: Can you give us a quick scouting report on the pitchers the Marlins face this series?
EN: Chad Gaudin (5-2, 2.42 ERA) has been solid since entering the Giants rotation. He mixes his fastball, slider, and change up the most. If one pitch is working for him that day he will stick with it. His fastball is in the low 90’s and the slider stays in the mid 80’s.
Matt Cain (7-8, 4.44 ERA) has been up and down all season as I mentioned earlier. He is prone to the home run ball this year and leaves a lot of pitches over the plate. If he’s right, he can pain the corners with a low 90’s fastball and a mid 80’s change up. If he’s not, those 85 mph sliders hang right over the plate.
Madison Bumgarner (11-7 2.73 ERA) is the most consistent starter the Giants have. He has been dominant most of this season. Just recently he had 10 straight starts in which he pitched 7 or more innings. He has a fastball with movement that reaches the mid 90’s and a sweeping slider that disappears under a right-handed hitter’s hands.
EK: Your prediction on this series?
EN: The Giants have had a pretty good run of starting pitching lately. With Bumgarner and Cain it’s possible to have 2 very good outings. Brandon Belt is the hottest player on the Giants right now, hitting .389 in his last 10 games. If Sandoval and Posey can hit like they did the final 2 games in D.C., I can see the Giants taking 2 of 3 down in Miami.
A big thank you to Eric for taking his timeout to talk to us. We at Marlin Maniac wish all Giants fans the best of luck for the upcoming of the series. If you get a chance, do check out some of the great content over on Around the Foghorn. Here are the questions I answered for Eric on AtF.