Pablo Sandoval is pressing. Badly. So Bruce Bochy gave the struggling slugger the night off on Wednesday.
Sandoval still hasn't homered since July 8 (it's getting awkward at this point) and has struggled through September, hitting just .238/.304/.566 with one extra-base hit.
And that's primarily why Bruce Bochy yanked him from the lineup on Wednesday -- to give him a rest while he struggles.
“It’s starting to mount up on him a little. He’s trying too hard,” Bochy said. “We’re just trying to get him away from the game so he can relax, come back and have fun. It hasn’t been much fun for him the last couple of days.”
Improbably, the Giants have pulled away from the Dodgers with their second-best hitter slumping; they now hold a seven-game lead over L.A., and appear poised to win the division if they can power through their next series against Arizona.
At the very least, they should make the playoffs. The odds are quite clearly in their favor -- CoolStandings.com gives San Francisco a 99.3 percent chance to make the postseason, with a 98.1 chance of winning the division.
But the Giants will need Panda to get going at some point. Which is why resting him and getting him completely healthy is paramount to their postseason success. Chris Quick of BayCityBall.com broke down exactly why Panda's struggling with power lately, and it's pretty clear that it involves the hamate bone he broke earlier in the season.
Sandoval's average fly ball distance, per Quick, has dropped 44 feet since his injury. But the good thing is that Sandoval's average fly ball distance since the injury (273 feet) is actually reasonably close to his year-long average over the past few years.
It's possible that he was over-achieving before the injury, and it's possible he won't get back to that form. But the Giants need him to get somewhere, in terms of power, other than where he is now. If that requires resting him as they try to win the division, well, it might be the only option.