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Giants' play in Atlanta proving why upcoming offseason is so critical for franchise

Kerry Crowley, The Mercury News on

Published in Baseball

ATLANTA -- Manager Bruce Bochy and San Francisco Giants players insist their focus has not shifted.

Despite being eliminated from playoff contention, they say they're determined to win as many games as possible and finish the season with some of their best baseball.

Words do not always match actions.

The season isn't officially over for the 2019 Giants, but after Bochy reached the 2,000-win club earlier this week, there's little left to play for. That much has become apparent during the team's trip to Atlanta, where San Francisco lost 8-1 on Saturday in another humdrum performance.

After suffering a 6-0 blowout loss in a series-opener on Friday, the Giants were shut out for the first six innings while its pitching staff couldn't contain an Atlanta lineup missing several regulars.

Every pitcher that takes the mound and every hitter that steps into the batter's box is no longer tasked with keeping the Giants alive in a playoff race, but instead with reminding key front office decision-makers what they can contribute to the 2020 club.

 

If the team's last two games are any indication of what's to come, the Giants' roster may change even more drastically next year than it did this season. President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has cycled through a National League-record 64 players and while many are no longer with the organization, several who are occupying lockers now may not make it to Scottsdale next spring.

The Giants' starting pitcher, Johnny Cueto, is expected to play a significant role in next season's rotation, but Cueto encountered command issues on Saturday for the first time since returning from Tommy John surgery. Cueto issued five walks for the 11th time in his career and threw more balls than strikes in four innings against Atlanta.

Cueto tossed five scoreless innings in each of his first two outings, but his failure to consistently find the strike zone against the Braves served as a reminder of how important Cueto's success is to the Giants' overall team success. If Madison Bumgarner opts to sign elsewhere in free agency this offseason and Cueto regresses next year, it may be difficult for the Giants to have any chance of entertaining realistic visions of a postseason race deep into the summer.

Cueto doesn't have to worry about his 2020 role, but the first reliever out of the bullpen on Saturday, Dereck Rodriguez, will enter the offseason with a lot to prove. Following an outstanding rookie season last year, Rodriguez has spent time in the Giants' rotation, the bullpen and with the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats during a frustrating season.

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