I believe it was John Madden who said, "Well, you got your, ah... , your numbers, all that stuff, you know, the stats thing... then you got, umgh... ah... your, you know, results." Or maybe it was President Eisenhower. No matter.
The 2013 season has been a serious challenge to the talents (and patience) of Manager Bruce Bochy and Pitching Coach Dave Righetti. The on-the-surface story is that the celebrated Giant pitching staff is in the tank but the team is actually hitting better.
That's why those stories float on the surface and, if you get close enough, smell. Because while the Giants' pitching isn't going down for the third time, Giant run production is in trouble. Again.
At the 57 game point, with 105 left to play, the San Francisco Giants are in that middle third of the season bubble when smart teams assess themselves and make adjustments to the 25 man roster.
I often quote Giants COO and President Larry Baer who succinctly laid out the blueprint for a winning season: the first 50 games are to assess the team you've got; the second 50 games are to make the necessary adjustments; and the final 62 games are all about wins.
We're smack inside the second 50 games and we will watch as the San Francisco front office decides what it will take to push the accelerator down on this 2013 team.
A quick look at all 30 MLB team ERA rankings shows the Giants at #20 with a 4.21 team ERA. Just behind San Francisco is Tampa Bay with a 4.22 team ERA. Only the Giants have 30 wins and 27 loses, and Tampa is 31-25.
Way up near the top at #6 is the Washington Nationals with a 3.58 team ERA-- and a 28-29 record. (Of course hitting counts too, but Part 1 is about pitching.)
As usual, John Madden is right. You got your numbers then you got your results. The Giants' starting rotation is 17-19, which is not good but hardly a reason to grab the kids and move to Canada.
Matt Cain has been terrible but he's 4-3; Madison Bumgarner is 4-4 but has a 1.05 WHIP; Barry Zito is 4-3 with a 3.88 ERA. It's really Tim Lincecum and Ryan Vogelsong's combined 5-9 / 5.98 ERA that has sunk the starting staff in 2013.
While Lincecum's fall from pitching glory is well-documented, more ominous is the fact that Ryan Vogelsong has been pitching very badly for 4 consecutive regular season months between this year and last year.
During the last two months of the 2012 season Ryan Vogelsong put up a 6.38 ERA in 11 starts (6.32 in August, 6.46 in September).
In a twist that no one would have thought possible two years ago the Giants will likely pick up Zito's option (or renegotiate a new contract) at the end of this season, and cut Lincecum and Vogelsong loose. But there should be no panic among the sports talk radio community-- as noted in previous posts, the Giants have the resources to hit the free agent market harder than wet on water.
Last Sunday the team opted to go with bullpen long reliever Chad Gaudin to start in the injured Vogelsong's place, and that produced a much-needed 6-2 win over the Cardinals. But the previous week was, well I wouldn't say last week was actually "disastrous". I think "catastrophic" is a much more apt description.
But the reason the Giants went 2-5 in their last seven games wasn't pitching... [This is a blatant tease to move on to the next post-- trust me, it's worth the trip.]