Numb3rs, whoops, not that numbers, I mean numbers. Numbers figure prominently in all aspects of our life, and maybe never more so than in the game of baseball, I mean think about it, imagine no wins and losses? Or try this on for size, no individual statistics for each and every player, the game is all about figures, and if we ever doubted it, just think of how players react to simple arithmetic come negotiation time.
And that brings me to the subject of the Giants, because there is someone on the San Francisco Giants whose numbers the organization should be grateful to have in the fold.
Madison Bumgarner, often considered the third starter of the Giants gold standard pitching staff, is under contract through the year 2017, good thing too, because to the casual observer the Giants are 18 and 12 and appear to be doing okay, but nothing could be further from the truth.
This team depends on its pitching, principally the starters, and if they should get into trouble red flags go up all over the place, at least this year.
Looking at the 2013 season up to this point what stands out like a sore thumb about the staff is Bumgarner and his 1.55 ERA, and pray he don’t get one, and that is because he has become the one guy who can replace a bad string of starts with an almost certain solid one. Can one starting pitcher truly make that big a difference in a starting rotation?
Well in the matter concerning the San Francisco Giants that answer has to be an emphatic yes! The word savior comes to mind, although that may be a bit much, it still captures the spirit of the thing. I mean without Madison the team’s rotation and its ERA become astronomical.
Take for example the number one man in the starting rotation Matt Cain. Going into tonight’s nationally televised game against the Dodgers, Matt is still looking for win number one. After six starts he carries an ERA of 6.49 while having lost two games, but there is the feeling Cain will get it going soon, one can only hope.
Tim Lincecum, often considered the number two starter on the staff, is in reality the number three starter, and there is now concern that being in that spot may mean trouble the rest of the way for the Giants. I love Timmy, the city loves Timmy, and the team loves him even more, but at the moment he is living on past accomplishments.
His persona and last year’s heroics as the man out of the bullpen, primarily because he was simply not effective as a starter, were one reason the Giants won it all in 2012. Now though Timmy is there to be a starter and his abilities show little if no improvement over last year. His ERA is 4.41 not seriously alarming perhaps, but not up to Lincecum standards, and the big inning is still plaguing him. His 2 and 1 record is very deceiving, and control is still an issue.
Last year Barry Zito earned his keep as well as turning heads in the playoffs. This year he has done reasonably well at the outset, and if you throw out one truly ugly game Zito has done a pretty good job. In fact in his last start he only lasted to the fifth inning, but turned in a gutty performance despite being in constant trouble. At 3 and 1 with a 3.06 ERA everyone here is hoping that Barry doesn’t slip back to pre 2012 Barry.
The number five guy is Ryan Vogelsong and given his success, or rather lack of this year, if there were another spot further down the rotation poor Ryan might have been demoted to it. He is a good man and truly wants to contribute, however at 1 and 2 in 6 starts with a 7.20 ERA, it is hard to imagine how he could be much worse.
The middle relief has been game, somewhat suspect at times, but Sergio Romo has made leads hold up late in the game when he has had to. Fortunately the Giants bats have been nothing short of marvelous in late innings, performing eleven comebacks, and in the last two nights they have had walk off homeruns by Buster Posey on Friday, and his backup, Guillermo Quiroz last night against the Dodgers.
April was a relatively easy schedule for the Giants, but with a less than hospitable May looming against some very good contenders, having Madison Bumgarner, good as he is with that 1.55 ERA, might not be enough to keep the Giants near the top unless the rest of the staff steps up.
Yep it is all about the numbers, and hopefully the Giants number is not up in May.