By John Shea @real_johnshea on April 18, 2014
The San Francisco Giants have posted a solid 10-6 record at the start of the 2014 MLB season despite recent struggles offensively. The Giants have cooled off significantly at the plate over the past week but have still managed to win four of their last six games. As the team prepares for their second road trip of the season, certain players must rise to the occasion and get back on track in order to help the Giants remain in first place.
Sandoval has underachieved on a massive level so far in the 2014 MLB season. He was able to come up with a clutch, two-out hit that lifted the Giants over the Dodgers in their most recent win, but has just 11 hits in 63 official at-bats on the season. Sandoval is in the midst of a prolonged slump in the first contract year of his big league career. He's pressing in the No. 3 spot of the lineup and could benefit from dropping down in the order.
Cain has dropped two games in three starts so far this season. His 4.00 ERA in 18.0 innings of work is on level with the numbers he recorded in 2013, prompting moderate concern. Cain is coming off a solid performance where he allowed just one run on four hits with eight strikeouts in seven innings. His most recent outing was vintage Cain. The Giants need their horse to show up and perform like that every fifth day. That hasn't happened thus far.
After signing a five-year, million contract, expectations were incredibly high for Pence entering this season. He enjoyed the best season of his big league career in 2013, smashing a career-high 27 home runs while starting all 162 games. Pence is a catalyst for the Giants but has been lackluster offensively thus far. He currently owns a .206 average with five extra-base hits in 63 at-bats. He needs to get going to solidify the Giants' order.
The Giants' heralded southpaw and potential Cy Young Award candidate is 2-1 with a 3.48 ERA in four starts this season. While those numbers aren't terrible, they're not indicative of what Bumgarner is capable of. He's noticeably struggled with his command in early action, a problem that has negatively impacted his pitch count, disabling him from frequently pitching deep into games. Bumgarner will be unstoppable when he gains full control.
After being clothes-lined on a bang-bang play at first base in a game against the Diamondbacks, Posey has been ice cold at the plate. He's posted one hit in his last 17 at-bats, which is a big reason why the Giants' run production has stalled. Posey saw a belt-high challenge fastball in a 3-1 count from Brian Wilson in the eighth inning of a 2-0 game against the Dodgers that he should have crushed. A home run would have given the Giants the lead.
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