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Friday, May 10, 2013

Giants' Pitching No Longer a Powerhouse

For the last 5+ years, the Giants have had what many consider one of the top pitching staffs in all of baseball, top to bottom. This year, however, their starting pitching has taken a major step back, and the bullpen isn't quite as bullet-proof as it's been the past few seasons.

After nearly being swept by the struggling Phillies, the Giants have started out behind the 8-ball in their 4-game set with Atlanta, as Ryan Vogelsong had yet another tough outing Thursday night that pushed his ERA up to 7.78 through his 7 starts. Vogey gave up 6 runs on 7 hits through 4 1/3 and surrendered his league-leading 9th home run of the season. As bad as things have been with Cain and Lincecum this year, Vogelsong has had the roughest go of it through the season's first 6 weeks, and it's gotten to the point where even Bruce Bochy is showing some concern. The three right-handers in the rotation (Cain, Lincecum and Vogey) carry a combined ERA in the 6's, and when asked about the struggles in the starting rotation, Bochy quickly replied that there are other options he could go to in terms of starters should this string of bad luck continue. I'm not sure what exactly he means by that, as the Giants are hardly deep with major league ready starting pitching, but he could mean sliding Chad Gaudin into the rotation for a start or two while giving Vogey a couple weeks to work on some issues. It's not like Vogelsong has all the sudden lost his stuff. He struck out 7 batters in his 4 1/3 innings Thursday, but he's just not hitting his targets with consistency like he's done so well in his recent Giants' tenure.

I can't really think of who else Bochy could be referring to when he says "other options" for the starting rotation besides Gaudin. If you look down at Fresno, they're having much of the same issues the Giants are having as up here, as all their starters have gotten off to rough starts as well. Mike Kickham (0-4, 5.65 ERA) and Chris Heston (3-2, 5.82 ERA) would likely be the first two options, but they certainly aren't beating the
Will Sabean Deal for SP?
door down and forcing the issue right this moment. If Vogey continues to struggle though, and the Giants feel a long term change may be in order, they could look outside the organization at various arms that could be available via trade, but it's still so early in the season that they'd probably have to overpay for any decent starting pitcher worth making a move on. One guy who I would take in a second, and someone I've been watching closely this season is Bud Norris. Obviously being the worst team in the game, the Astros are in complete rebuilding mode, and Norris is one of the guys on that roster that may be able to fetch a few solid prospects in return. Not sure if the 'Stros are open to dealing him at this time or what they'd even want for him, but he's definitely a guy I could see excelling in the pitcher friendly confines of AT&T Park.

As far as the bullpen is concerned, things have been pretty good at the back end, as Romo is 12-14 in save opportunities and Santiago Casilla has done a nice job in the set-up role. That's not really the issue, but what I am afraid of is Boch overusing Casilla as he really is the one right-hander Bochy trusts late in games besides his closer. Unlike with their starting rotation though, the Giants do have some clear-cut options within the organization should they feel the need to mix things up. Jean Machi has shown with every opportunity he's gotten that he's a big league-caliber reliever, with the potential to be a very good one.Also, with the way Heath Hembree has started the season in Fresno, it wouldn't surprise me to see him in San Francisco sooner than later, taking on a significant role as a late reliever. Hembree would provide Bochy a legit arm with closing experience who could help keep Sergio Romo fresh for the stretch drive.
The Giants Baseball Blog


  • At 3:16 PM, Anonymous Jason Billingsley said…

    Hmm!? I'd take Norris in a second, if we didn't have to give up one of the top young arms like Stratton or Crick. Then move either Timmy or Vogey into the pen to help out in late innings.

    I loved Timmy in the bullpen last postseason and he'd be a great closer but doubt he'd be willing to make the switch.

  • At 3:18 PM, Anonymous Jason Billingsley said…

    Ohh and speaking of minor league prospects, WTF happened to Gary Brown? He's hitting .200 in Fresno of all places... Giants should have dealt him after that huge season he had for San Jose. I don't think he'll ever amount to anything now, just keeps getting worse.

  • At 11:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Right about now, it would be great if Zach Wheeler was still in the system... If only we could just erase that whole 2011 season and pretend like it never happened.....

  • At 10:10 AM, Anonymous hitnrun said…

    Trevor, obviously the Giants cannot go thru a good season if 40 percent of their starting rotation is not reliable. Cain had a good start against the Braves and so did Lincecum. Although I think Cain will turn it around, who knows when Lincecum will ever be consistent again? I still have hope that Vogelsong gets better, but he needs the short leash right now, as does Lincecum. I also do not see help on the horizon, as there really is nobody in Fresno, I think that Bochy is probably considering starting Gaudin and filling the bullpen with Machi and Hembree. Giants can't really trade because they really have few trading chips, unless somebody wants Gary Brown.


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