I’ll watch ‘Hawkeye,’ because I’m one of those who’ll watch anything Marvel does right now. But I was not feeling that trailer. They were going for the light-and-fun holiday connection, but every visual was attempting to be dark and gritty. So it all just kinda clashed and left me feeling pretty meh.
• The Giants, having freshly swept the Cubs and then having beaten the Padres last night as part of an eight-game winning streak, clinched a postseason appearance. On September 13. Good for them. A team no one was picking anywhere close to the top of the NL West when the season started, and a team the computers were giving very little shot at claiming any kind of postseason berth:
The playoff odds path throughout the season for the Giants, the 1st team to clinch a 2021 postseason berth pic.twitter.com/iUZ62K1qiB
— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) September 14, 2021
• The Giants are often pointed to as a representation of how an organization can turn things around very quickly with some good decisions – admittedly, I mention them when doing the “you never know” discussion about the Cubs and 2022 – and certainly the Giants did make some very savvy moves before the 2021 season. They especially KILLED IT on the pitching side, and that has been a huge part of their success. The Cubs need to replicate that kind of success this offseason if they want to have a decent rotation next year.
• But I think we probably don’t do enough to discuss how much of the Giants’ surprising success this year is predicated on the performance of all these formerly-very good veteran hitters who are just playing out of their minds this year. Consider that ALL of the following older guys (1) were already with the Giants before this season, and (2) at various, mostly-recent times in their careers, looked to be done being impact regulars:
⇒ Brandon Crawford, 34 – .297/.369/.514, 136 wRC+, 4.4 WAR
⇒ Buster Posey, 34 – .300/.391/.503, 134 wRC+, 4.1 WAR
⇒ Darin Ruf, 35 – .281/.401/.541, 154 wRC+, 2.5 WAR
⇒ Brandon Belt, 33 – .258/.365/.567, 147 wRC+, 2.3 WAR
⇒ Evan Longoria, 35 – .289/.389/.526, 145 wRC+, 1.9 WAR
• I mean … what the f***? Those are five guys in their mid-30s who are hitting at the best levels of their career, and all shortly after a period of time when it seemed like it was a wraps. That is extremely rare for any player, let alone five on the same team. Clearly the Giants have figured out a secret sauce in how you work with these guys – and then how you play them in-game – to maximize results. Some of it might be good fortune, but you don’t pull that off with FIVE DIFFERENT VETS without there being SOMETHING under the hood. This is almost like having five different Jason Heywards suddenly play at an All-Star level in 2022. I’m not entirely sure, realistically, how you replicate that kind of thing to effectuate a quick turnaround, but if anyone on that Giants’ coaching staff is a free agent, make that priority one for a hiring!
• ‘Midnight, the Stars and You’ plays softly in the background as the camera zooms in to the center and the credits roll:
Built for October. pic.twitter.com/F8alSBGUSk
— MLB (@MLB) September 14, 2021
• No, but seriously, good for Kris Bryant. May all the traded Cubs make the postseason and enjoy deep runs of success.
• Speaking of traded Cubs trying to make the postseason … that Giants win over the Padres was another implosive Yu Darvish start. I don’t really care how we reflect on the wisdom of the trade at the time (that’s a separate conversation, and clearly – whatever the motivation – it was a good decision). Because the Cubs were going to get what they got, and nothing Darvish did was going to impact that. So I have been rooting for him. And it’s hard to see the struggles he’s going through since the start of July: 7.67 ERA, 5.74 FIP, just 54.0 IP over 11 starts, and maybe just two good starts in there? Darvish, who turned 35 in August, has two more years on his deal with the Padres.
• Worse? With Blake Snell leaving his last start hurt, and now Chris Paddack going on the IL, Darvish is probably the second best healthy starting pitcher in the Padres’ rotation (behind Joe Musgrove and ahead of Jake Arrieta). The Padres have fallen a half-game behind the Reds for that second Wild Card spot, tied with the Cardinals. Oh, yeah, the Cardinals are right there in the Wild Card race now, if you hadn’t noticed. They’re doing really well lately when they’re not throwing errant baseballs off umpire’s heads.
• Max Scherzer has just been absurd:
Just reupping the column from last week in which I argued Max Scherzer has a chance to go down as the best pitching acquisition near the July deadline. Sabathia, Sutcliffe, Unit and Doyle Alexander are all mentioned and can make plenty-great cases, too: https://t.co/KRXgpRsepn https://t.co/9VBVCri8wo
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) September 13, 2021
• The Bears were planning to play Justin Fields more if the game had been closer? (wut?) Also, what was with Allen Robinson’s usage and Eddie Jackson’s tackling?
• The South Bend Cubs announced their 2022 schedule, which gives us an idea of the High-A season for next year, spanning April 8 through September 11:
🚨 SAVE THE DATES 🚨
In conjunction with @MLB, we have announced our 2022 @MiLB schedule. The #SBCubs open the season on 4/8 and feature games on Mother’s Day (5/8), night before Memorial Day (5/29), July 4th, and night before Labor Day (9/4).
📅➡️ https://t.co/JNluQ0BwJx pic.twitter.com/GczSHcMgli
— South Bend Cubs (@SBCubs) September 13, 2021