Oh, that feeling when the Giants are in an offensive funk and they fall behind early. It's hilarious to think about the Giants from April. They would fall behind big, then come back in the late innings. It took, like, three weeks of it for us all to think, "WELL, THAT'S JUST THE WAY THIS TEAM IS BUILT NOW, I GUESS. HEART OF A LION. GREAT COMEBACK TEAM, REALLY."
Now when Mike Kickham gives up four runs in the second inning, the only reason not to flip through the cable guide is because you aren't watching the game on TV. You might be on the Internet, say. You could probably look up cat pictures or conspiracy theories, instead. The transition from fearless to hopeless when trailing wasn't a noticeable one. It just kinda happened. And now we're back in familiar territory with familiar terms and phrases that we know too well. "Caining," for one. "Dammit, do something that resembles anything," for two. "Znnnnxxxzzzzz," for three.
I will say this about Kickham: He'll have a major-league career as long as he's healthy. He shows flashes every game. In the first, he struck out Joey Votto on a beautiful fastball that painted the outside corner. This, after he set Votto up with a couple of sliders for called strikes. He made quality pitches at times, and he cruised through the first inning again. He'll have a major-league career.
But that's a pretty vague description. Henry Sosa and Shairon Martis had something of major-league careers, so maybe that's what Kickham will do. Or maybe he'll be on that second tier with Alfredo Simon, Clay Hensley, or Carlos Villanueva -- Giants farmhands who ended up sticking around for quite a while, even if they aren't household names in their own cities. Or maybe Kickham will become an elite guy like Joe Nathan or Jason Grilli. Give Kickham a couple of seasons and a ninth-inning job, and he'll be golden for years.
For 2013, though, I'm not sure how he's going to help. Kickham is the perfect example of why scouty types make a distinction between "control" and "command." When a pitcher doesn't have control, he's all over the place. Even when he wants to throw a strike with the bases loaded to Santiago Casilla, there's no guarantee that he can. A pitcher who doesn't have command can throw strikes, perhaps, but he doesn't always throw the best strikes. He'll throw a few more sliders or fastballs over the heart of the plate, and that's what makes all the difference.
At least for the first few games of his career, Kickham has been lacking command. This is certainly a bit of results-based analysis; if Derrick Robinson hits a normal groundball instead of a worm-melting chopper, the night might not look so bad for Kickham. But all we gots is them peepers, and when hitters get hits off him, it's not like we have to play the pitch back in slow-motion to see how things didn't turn out well. It's pretty obvious. The ball that was here should have been there, and the ball that was there should have been here.
Again, major-league pitcher at some point. Possibly with the Giants. Maybe even with a strong spring next year. But for right now, he's not exactly an event pitcher you set your DVR for. The novelty has worn off, and he's just another Giants pitcher who has troubles getting into the seventh inning. Or sixth, fifth, fourth, or third.
Hey, if he ever gets a positive WAR mark, he'll be the most valuable pitcher to have been drafted 198th overall. The Giants are already doing well to have a sixth-round pick with a chance. And Kickham has more than a chance. I'm still pretty bullish, even after today. Well, I'm certainly not bearish. I'm probably sealish, just kind of rolling my fat self around, waiting for something else to happen. Beats bearish, at least.
Jake Dunning looked pretty good, though!
The Giants had two hits against Bronson Arroyo. Here is a list of things that are like getting dominated by Bronson Arroyo:
- outsmarting yourself with a vial of poison like Vizzini
- falling for one of those cons where the perpetrator intentionally confuses you while you're trying to make change
- losing a game of Scrabble to some smartypants who keeps using the dictionary to call you on your bullshit
- failing to turn your paperwork in by the deadline
- being cuckolded by a mime
- being unable to hit a dookie-throwing dookmaster from the dook nebula
Dook dook dook dook dook dook dook dook dook dook dook dook dook . Hack hack hack hack hack. Dook dook dook dook dook dook dook dook dook dook dook dook dook . Hack hack hack hack hack. I'd rather watch Mat Latos blow the Giants away with hard stuff and nasty breaking balls.
If there's a silver lining -- and why not! -- it's that we all felt like this after Arroyo dominated the Giants in the NLDS. It was kind of the team's lowest point of the season, not unlike it is right now for the Giants. And they got through it. It was unlikely, and it took time, but they got through it. Happy thoughts. I found this on a GIF search for "optimism". It doesn't help me. Maybe you'll connect with it.
Jake Dunning looked pretty good, though!