Answer to Pence/Pagan Injuries: Marlon Byrd
Here we are In 2015, and as we hit the stretch drive, the injury bug has reared it's ugly head in SF once again. Hunter Pence has been a stud when he's been been able to stay on the field this year, but the right fielder missed two months to start the year and now has re-landed on the DL at one of the worst possible times with a strained oblique. This could be tricky because, while best-case scenario has the Giants' star right fielder will be back in uniform for the first week of September, obliques are far from predictable. It's kept some players out up to a month at a time and one has to wonder with Pence's violent plate approach if it may take him a little longer than average. Also, joining Pence for yet another stint in what has been an injury plagued tenure (and a dreadful 2015) since he inked his 4-year/$40 million, is Angel Pagan. However, that may end up being a blessing in disguise for the Giants. It helped prompt them to add Marlon Byrd and it also opens up center for a guy who's playing at a much higher level than Pagan this year.
If you remember one of the areas I really wanted this team to look at upgrading before the trade deadline was getting another 4th-type outfielder that could handle starting for a stretch if need be. Pagan, again, has been so up and down and always is an injury risk, then Pence has had one of his worst years in terms of injury, and Aoki has even ran into some issues. I knew this team would likely need a little more depth there down the stretch but alas, it was not the case. Well, on Thursday, they finally got their guy, as they obtained Marlon Byrd from from Cincinnati to help keep them afloat until the shit gets right. In fact, Byrd's year in Cinci hasn't been too shabby, sans the .237 average, and he could have a chance to audition to be a regular even when Pence does return if he can out-play Angel Pagan down the stretch (if Pagan even makes it back). Pagan has been dealing with nagging back injuries for much of the year and his play has declined steadily because of it. Byrd obviously has plenty of power, which he displayed in his first at-bat as a Giant on Friday night in Pittsburgh, launching a 2-run jack into left-center to help give Madison Bumgarner a 3-0 lead before he even toed the rubber, and that's going to be a huge addition.
The newest Giant proceeded to go 3-5 in his debut with his new squad, as his home run was his 20th of the season, which now makes him the Giants team leader at the moment. It just goes to show there is absolutely no reason to dislike this move whatsoever. I mean, as I said, if he gets hot he could make Pagan irrelevant and shift Aoki to center, especially on days they face left-handed pitching. If not, he becomes a vital weapon off the bench and a legit DH option should the Giants somehow claw their way back into a World Series. I know Hunter Pence is injured and that is cause for concern, but he should be back for the majority of that last month of the regular season, but with Byrd now in tow, it makes that loss deal-able. Also, with the rise of the youngsters in that bullpen like, George Kontos, Hunter Strickland and Josh Osich along with the improvements lately from Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo have alleviated any need for an extra reliever. However, the one area I'm growing increasingly concerned with each day MadBum doesn't start is that rotation.
Mike Leake hasn't gotten back on the field after his impressive debut start with the Giants August 2nd, but he's slated to return to the rotation for a big start Saturday vs. the NL's top-ranked Wild Card, Pittsburgh Pirates. After he and Bumgarner though, the pickings are slim. Cain has been dreadful, and Heston has now been optioned back to Sacramento. Peavy was pretty decent for his first handful of starts after coming off the DL, but has been raked pretty well the last two outings, to the tune of 16 hits, 9 ER and 2 HR over 11.2 innings. Hopefully he can get right next time out but even if he does, this team could desperately take another starter should one of any value hit the waiver wire in the next 9 days... But I wouldn't hold my breath.