Chad Gaudin pitches well, Giants salvage last game against Cards

AAAAAAH - Photo credit - Dilip Vishwanat

Gaudin you, mate. Gaudin you.

It's June 2, and Chad Gaudin is the best starting pitcher on the Giants.

Hyperbolic? Possibly! I'd hate to be known as the one writer on the Internet who overreacts. Seems like the kind of label that can stick with you. But what Chad Gaudin did on Sunday was "pitch well." It's a weird, neo-Moneyball strategy that other teams are trying lately, and Gaudin looked the part. He threw first-pitch strikes. When he got ahead of hitters (which was often), he put them away or convinced them to make contact with pitches out of the strike zone. So let's restate the opening for emphasis:

It's June 2, and Chad Gaudin is the best starting pitcher on the Giants.

I don't really believe that. I still have the Krusty-is-coming kind of faith with Matt Cain, and even an erratic Madison Bumgarner is a better bet to finish the season stronger than Gaudin. So how about instead of the dramatic, over-the-top finality of that statement, we refine it just a little?

It's June 2, and if you don't think Chad Gaudin is the best starting pitcher on the Giants, you have to expend a lot of energy explaining why.

Better. And that properly captures the creeping dread that is Giants pitching right now, but it also gives Gaudin credit without going overboard. Because he really did have an exceptional outing when the Giants needed one. Even if you don't necessarily have faith in him doing this well for 20 more starts between now and October, it was certainly as well-pitched of a game as the Giants have seen in a while. Gaudin's bugaboo -- and the reason he's been on nine different teams before turning 30 -- is that he's had poor control while being relatively easy to hit at the same time. Bad combination.

But there was never an issue with his stuff. That means when he can locate, hit his spots, and keep the other team from lacing line drives all over the ballpark, he kind of looks like the best pitcher in the world. Or, less hyperbolically, on his team. It's June 2, and you are at least thinking about Chad Gaudin as a legitimate option for the rest of the season. It's weird, this feeling. But unavoidable.

If you look at his career, though, he's been so danged close to a league-average pitcher the whole time:

Year HR% SO% BB% XBH% X/H% GB/FB GO/AO IP% LD% HR/FB IF/FB DP%
11 Yrs 2.5% 17.9% 10.4% 7.9% 34% 0.75 1.06 67% 20% 7.3% 11% 10%
MLB Averages 2.7% 17.7% 8.4% 7.9% 34% 0.80 1.08 69% 19% 7.7% 12% 11%

One of the only categories that isn't comically close to the league averages is the walk rate. And while there's never a guarantee that a pitcher will learn to throw more strikes as he gets older, as if baseball is an RPG and pitchers need to level up after they crawl a certain amount of dungeons, it's not out of the question that Gaudin will throw strikes closer to the league-average rate.

Or, to paraphrase Jack Handey, if a pitcher ever falls from organization to organization, he should just start throwing like an average pitcher and teams will try to sign him because, hey, free average pitcher.

If Gaudin could be an average starting pitcher, he would help the Giants. If Gaudin could be an average starting pitcher, he would be the best starter on the Giants. Nothing he did today made you think he couldn't at least be average. Good work, Chad Gaudin. It was quite nice to watch a baseball game without a cavalcade of Matts, Daves, Dans, and Petes getting hit after hit.

Star-divide

In a previous post-game thread, I asked if anyone remembered the last legitimately fantastic play Marco Scutaro made in the field. It's only fair to note that in the bottom of the seventh inning, Scutaro made a legitimately fantastic play, sliding to his right on a tough ball, and making the throw to first with a lot of time to spare. The Giants had a two-run lead, so it was important to prevent the Cardinals from getting the tying run up.

Also, here's another thing about Scutaro's defense: He ate Rod Carew and learned his hitting secrets, so his defense shouldn't be a big deal and I'll stop bringing it up.

Star-divide

Brandon Belt hit the game-winning double as a pinch-hitter, which will somehow justify Brett Pill's awful afternoon, even if subconsciously. "Well, uh, you use Pilly and see if he can run into one against a left-hander, and then you've got Brandon off the bench for a big hit if you need it." Just typing that made me want to take a shower.

Here's the thing, though: I don't have a problem with Pill starting a game against a left-handed pitcher every now and again. And the game after a doubleheader with five Belt strikeouts is a pretty good time to give him a rest. It wasn't a bad idea to have Pill start today

But Pill has started four out of the five games the Giants have had against a left-hander since getting called up. That's a platoon. I was optimistic that Pill wasn't going to platoon with Belt. I was a moron. And a start like today makes it so easy to rage.

And, of course, Belt hit his double off a left-hander. Because he's not that bad against left-handers. Which we've known for a couple years now. Also non-breaking news: Pill isn't that good against left-handers. Never has been, even in the minors.

I wonder if the Giants win today if Belt starts instead of comes in as a pinch-hitter, though. What an oddly constructed sport this "baseball" is.

Star-divide

Speaking of Bochy-favored players who frequently chase pitches out of the strike zone, I had no idea Bengie Molina was the first-base coach for the Cardinals. I remember him being less than close with Yadier -- can't find it now, but there was a story about him seeing Yadier play for the first time just a couple years ago -- so it was a surprise to see Bengie blocking the plate in the fourth inning, and by "plate" I mean "first-base umpire Clint Fagan."

Bengie looked like he was in game shape, too! The game is World of Warcraft and the shape is oblate spheroid, but he was still in game shape.

(Sorry. I still like Bengie, and it's good to see him stick around the game. It was just such a surprise to see him ...)

(Edit: Looks like he was just filling in. That would explain it.)

(Also, I'm starting to think Yadier Molina has a temper.)

Star-divide

And now it's time for me to run alongside the moving train as it leaves the station, tearfully waving my handkerchief and shouting goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.

Goodbye, center-field camera. Goodbye, you beautiful creature. We will meet again, but it will be too long. It will be too long. We were meant for each other, dammit.

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