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Picking through the rubble: Takeaways from a rough weekend at Third & King



I’m old enough to remember last Tuesday night. The Giants were red hot. A stellar road trip had come home to a pair of wins over the National League best Phillies. Last time we chatted, the Giants had just wrapped up that series win. It’s remarkable how quickly things change. 

Since Tyler Fitzgerald slid safely into home plate at Oracle Park to walk off the Phillies in the 10th that night, the Giants have disposed of their momentum with a swiftness. Four straight losses and a sweep at the hands of the mighty Yankees have reminded fans that the ceiling for this Giants team isn’t much higher than that of its middling National league contemporaries. As the Bronx Bombers slapped hands in the Oracle Park infield after completing a sweep on Sunday afternoon, the gap between the league’s elite and your San Francisco Giants had been rudely exposed once again. 

Here are four takeaways from the disappointing sweep. 

Stars will be stars

It seems like the lowest points of this up and down Giants season have been highlighted by an element of added insult to injury. Twice now superstars whom the Giants tried and failed to sign in consecutive off-seasons have come to Third & King and tormented the squad that wooed them so passionately in the winter months. First it was Shohei Ohtani, blasting a gargantuan home run to a territory only graced by Barry Bonds in the history of this yard. He trotted around the bases in venomous Dodger blue with a coy grin, reminding Giants fans that the sport’s brightest star would have been just fine facing off with the daunting left handed dimensions of Oracle Park. 

Then this week. Aaron Judge, who was a Giant for roughly seven minutes in December of 2022, picked on the Giants like a school yard bully. He gave his childhood favorite team an embarrassing wedgie on Friday night, then as if that wasn’t enough, he stuffed them in a locker with a titanic blast that nearly cleared the left field bleachers on Saturday night. Just in case fans of the orange and black weren’t hurting enough, Judge addressed the media following the game with a smug smirk, waxing poetic about how much he loved the Giants and its beloved broadcasters. Spare us, Aaron. 

Mind the gap 

This is baseball. Any team is capable of beating any other given team on any given day. Look at that Phillies series, the Giants took two of three from baseball’s best team by record. But zoom out for a moment. The Giants were swept in a four game series by that same Phillies squad earlier in the season. If they’d won one in Philadelphia and then lost two out of three to the Phillies in SF, no one would be touting that 2-5 mark. Don’t get me wrong, winning that series is impressive and it was huge for morale during a hot streak. But just as the Giants caught the Phillies when they were red hot in Philly, the same can be said for this series. When fully healthy, (Baseball Gods, please let us see just a glimpse of this) it’s reasonable to assume the Giants can stack up with the bottom half of playoff teams in Major League Baseball. But what the Dodgers and Yankees series have shown us is that there is a considerable delta between those two and teams like the Giants. 

About Camilo Doval

For the most part, Camilo Doval has been a great asset in the Giants’ bullpen. The 26-year-old Dominican right hander boasts some of baseball’s most electric stuff. More often than not, he wows with a triple digit fastball and wipe out slider. But he’s been susceptible to finding barrels this season. A flop in Pittsburgh, albeit partly error induced, was cause for concern. Then a disastrous outing on Sunday allowed the Yankees to come back and sweep. 

Doval’s ERA is 4.24, significantly inflated compared to his career mark of 2.96. Not terrible, but certainly not the metric of an elite closer. Perhaps more troubling is his WHIP. After posting a 1.14 in 69 outings in 2023, he’s currently sporting a 1.63 through 24 appearances. The league has made some effective adjustments, it’s time for Doval to do similar maintenance. 

Jun 2, 2024; San Francisco, California, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Juan Soto (center) rounds the bases after hitting a home run against San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Camilo Doval (75) during the ninth inning at Oracle Park. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Big ticket flops 

By all accounts it was a very good offseason for Farhan Zaidi and the Giants’ front office. Despite missing out on Ohtani, Zaidi quenched fans’ thirst for big name free agents by signing Matt Chapman, Jorge Soler, Blake Snell and Robbie Ray. Put Ray aside for now, he’ll join the rotation sometime next month and can only be evaluated then. The other three? Yeesh. Chapman has been the best of them by far, and that’s saying something given his poor April. Chapman had a much better May, including a stellar week and change to close the month that featured excellence with the bat and the glove. He’s the only one of the trio to make it close to what was expected. 

Snell’s still very young Giants’ tenure has been defined by injury, and it looks like that will again be the case after he exited what was shaping up to be his best start of the season on Sunday with a groin injury. The reigning Cy Young winner’s stats are a far cry from that title. He’s winless in six starts after a late signing kept him from benefiting from the ramp up of Spring Training. The four quality innings he logged on Sunday before getting hurt whittled his ERA under 10. He now owns an ugly 9.51. Giants fans should pray his groin heals up fast and he looks more like what we saw on Sunday than what we saw in his first few starts. 

Jorge Soler’s performance through the first nine weeks of the season has been objectively brutal. When Zaidi inked the slugger, it was generally expected that he would be a force multiplier offensively. A catalyst. A run producer. Not only has he failed to start rallies, he’s spectacularly failed to capitalize on them. Soler has 16 RBIs. Even with a small IL stint, that’s an unforgivable total. Soler is batting .215, and his OPS sits at a gruesome .666. His struggles are particularly detrimental because he’s such an X factor in this lineup. It feels like any offensive success the Giants have had has been in spite of Soler’s performance. If he were to contribute at the level the Giants’ thought he would, the offense might look entirely different.