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Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Pitching leading Giants back to relevancy

Well for the first couple weeks of the season, the Giants starting pitching was all over the place and it contributed greatly to their 4-10 start. However, over the last two weeks, the Giants have righted the ship in a big way.

MadBum Shuts Down SD
The orange and black are a cool 8-3 over their last 11 contests, bringing them back to .500 for the first time since the first week of the season. A big reason for that record has been the performance they've received from their starting rotation the last couple of weeks, most recently with Madison Bumgarner's gem on Monday night. The Giants ace, who was right in the center of the teams starting pitching deficiencies during his first few starts himself, took a no-no into the seventh inning vs. a tough Padres lineup, finishing the night allowing just 2 hits over 7 1/3 innings of work. MadBum improved to 3-1 and lowered his ERA to 3.03 with the effort, and the Giants pulled off their fourth straight victory. After the game, the talk was all about MadBum as his turnaround has sort of had a ripple effect on the whole starting staff. The one guy who really hasn't pulled his weight all season long has been Ryan Vogelsong, as he seems to be pitching for his career each time he takes the ball. Jake Peavy could be back in a couple of weeks, and Matt Cain, hopefully, will follow him shortly after, so it's very possible that if Vogey doesn't get on track over the next few weeks, his days in a Giants uni may be numbered.

Lincecum 2.40 ERA in April
As for the guys who have been pulling their weight, first and foremost has to be the guy who's surprised everyone a little bit I think with his strong start, and that guy is Tim Lincecum. Through his first five starts, Lincecum has looked as close to the pre-2012 version of himself than ever. He's  just 2-2, but is pacing the Giants' rotation with a 2.40 ERA and is carrying a 1.23 WHIP. He hasn't had a WHIP below 1.32 since 2011 and has a combined 1.39 WHIP over the last 3 seasons. His secret to success has been pretty simple, he's been much more economical with his pitches and seems to have a much better command of what he's doing out there. He almost looked like a rookie with that "dear caught in headlights" look a lot the last couple of seasons, but now he seems to have that swagger about him back. I don't know if it's the impending free-agency that has him in super focus mode right now, or if he's just turned some sort of corner but he really has looked like a much different pitcher in 2015 and I don't think this start has been a fluke. Now, I don't expect him to carry a 2.40 ERA throughout the summer, and he's probably gonna still have a hiccup here and there, but he really hasn't had one yet and that's just such a positive sign.

With Chris Heston throwing the ball well and Tim Hudson rounding into form after a slow start himself, the Giants rotation sure looks to be coming around and it's going to pose Bruce Bochy with some tough decisions on the horizon. Jake Peavy threw a bullpen session over the weekend and came out extremely optimistic and Matt Cain has begun to throw off flat ground with a bullpen session this week, although Cain is going to be brought along a bit more cautiously. Peavy could be ready for a rehab start, assuming all things go well with his next bullpen session and he avoids all set-backs, sometime next week and could rejoin the staff by the mid-to-late May. If Vogelsong doesn't get it together in his next two starts, then he very well could be looking at the end of his Giants' career. I don't think they'll move him  back to the bullpen if his ERA is in the 8's and 9's. He's just hurting the team much more than he's helping at the moment and has to show some sort of value this month for Boch and Sabean to deem reason to keep him on the roster.

Injury Updates: Back to Matt Cain, the Giants are expected to take it extremely slow with the big right-hander who they still owe about $64 million between now and the time his deal expires after the 2017 season (assuming they buyout the option for 2018 at a whopping $7.5M). So, with them on the hook for all that money, you can see why they'd rather take it slowly and have him miss the first few months of the season to ensure he's 100% and ready to really contribute in the second half and throughout the remainder of his contract.... Hunter Pence, who's coming along a little slower than originally hoped with the fractured wrist, is still a few weeks out himself, although he has started increasing baseball activities. The thing with Hunter is he really didn't have any spring training, and may need a rehab assignment of at least a week to ten days, if not two weeks. Needless to say, he's not going to make the 6-8 week timetable like originally hoped. At this point, I'd just like to see him in a lineup before the calendar flips to June. 
The Giants Baseball Blog


  • At 2:09 AM, Anonymous GiantsFan Dan said…

    my question is what happens if Peavy and cain are both ready by the end of the month? Vogey looked really good tonight, like the old Vogey, against a tough lineup.

    Like you said, all five, Bum, Heston, Lincecum, Huddy and even Vogey are all pitching good or coming off good starts so who goes when Cain and Peavy come back?

    I wonder if they are thinking about trading Heston to upgrade at third base is there any names you have heard they're targeting?

  • At 6:17 PM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…


    Peavy should be back, hopefully, in the next two weeks sometime. When he does return, my guess is that it will be in place of Ryan Vogelsong. Unless Vogey's next two starts are identical to his most recent one Tuesday night, he's clearly looking like the odd man out right now.

    Cain is another story. I really have no idea when to expect him back, as the Giants have been hush hush on his timetable. He has started throwing and is expected to throw a bullpen at the end of the week or beginning of next week at which point we should know a little more. They're gonna take it slow with him, and if he's back by June 15th and actually 100% I'd be good with that.

    To answer the question though, once Peavy and Cain return (assuming all else are healthy), it'll likely spell AAA for Heston and either bullpen or dfa and then AAA or another team for Vogey.

  • At 6:23 PM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…

    As for trading Heston, it's certainly an intesting proposal but the Giants just can't afford it right now. Who'd take his place? Now if Cain and Peavy get back here and are themselves and everyone else is throwing well then maybe he does become expendable. He's not particularly young though and doesn't have huge upside so even though he's had a nice beginning to his ML career, I don't know it's been quite enough yet to make him a huge trade commodity.

    In other words, he's more valuable to the Giants than anything he'd likely net in a trade.

  • At 4:24 PM, Anonymous BJ Rassam said…

    It's always been about the Giants' pitching when it comes to wins and losses under Bochy.


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