Earlier this week, I used arbitrary grades to note how well or poorly the Giants' hitters did in the first half. Add them up, and we got a grade-point average of 2.85 -- good for a B-. Way to go, Giants lineup! Actually, hold on, it might be better. I think Buster Posey is A.P., so he gets extra credit. Gimme a sec.
But if the hitting has been mostly okay, what's gone wrong with the … Oh, right. This isn't gonna be pretty. Here are the grades for the Giant pitchers in the first half. Note that these are mostly relative to expectations, though I reserve the right to be grumpy about Zito even if I expected it.
Guh. Let's go through the potential problems in order:
Velocity? The same.
Batting average on balls in play? Cain's always had a crazy-low BABIP, which made people assume that he'd regress one of these days. It was .265 in 2011 and .264 in 2012, and it's regressed all the way to … .262 this year.
Strikeouts and walks? The walks are up a tick, but the strikeout-to-walk ratio is where it usually is. He's maintained a swinging-strike percentage of 16 percent since 2011.
The strikeout-to-walk ratio makes me think there's something mechanical from the stretch. Or we're dealing with sample-size gremlins. But probably the former. Maybe a combination. And because he's Matt Cain, he'll figure it out. Please?
For some reason, I worry about Bumgarner a lot. Before games, during games, between outings … I keep waiting for his velocity to go away or something else bad to happen. Maybe that's because of the Great Velocity Scare of 2008, or maybe it's because he's had tired stretches before. Except, he's one of the most consistent pitchers in baseball year to year, even if he has ups and downs within those years. His ERA has been between 3.00 and 3.37 in each of his four seasons, with a K/BB ratio between 3.31 and 4.15. How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Madison Bumgarner Even More.
"Hey, everyone! Tim Lincecum's strikeouts are going to go up, his walks are going to go down, and he's going to have a lower ERA than Matt Cain!"
"Hooray! Thanks, mysterious man from the future with cloven hooves! This is great news!"
At least Lincecum isn't as bad as he was in the first half last year, which led to stupid headlines like this:
Yup, Tim Lincecum Is the Worst Pitcher Ever
He's essentially been this pitcher for the last calendar year, which isn't bad. And, you know, a 33-start stretch could be subject to sample-size chicanery. Maybe he'll be the same after all! He did throw a no-hitter, after all. You have to be pretty good to do that.
Well ... that's just ... look, he was good at one point, too.
Zito's career ERA with the Giants is 4.51; his ERA in 2013 is 4.88. His career K/9 with the Giants is 6.2; his K/9 in 2013 is 5.8. His career strikeout-to-walk ratio with the Giants is 1.58; his K/BB ratio in 2013 is 1.63. His career HR-allowed ratio with the Giants is 1.0 for every nine innings pitched; it's exactly that this year.
I have no idea why this is surprising or hard to take or hard to watch or frustrating. There probably isn't a more consistent pitcher in baseball. And as long as we're handing out grades, is there a more D+ pitcher in baseball? He passed! Barely.
Deep breath. Game 5. Lifetime immunity. Deep breath. Game 5. Lifetime immunity. Deep breath. Game 5. Lifetime immunity. Deep breath. Game 5. Lifetime immunity. Deep breath. Game 5. Lifetime immunity. Deep breath. Game 5. Lifetime immunity.
Grade: D+, now and forever
Remember him? I miss him and his glower power. He was dreadful when he was healthy, and then he done broke on a freak play. The grade is more a reflection of that stupid play/pitch/event than Vogelsong. He was just turning it around, too …
From the day Gaudin signed:
He's basically Mota
That's not fair. He could also be Clay Hensley. And, you know, Gaudin is only 29. I guess if Righetti gets his hands on him …
Surprise! Gaudin's really good now. There is no explanation, not that you were desperate for one. His BABIP has been lower than expect, so he's probably not this good. But he's still clearly a major-league pitcher, which isn't necessarily something that was a given before the season started.
Bullpen lightning round:
Sergio Romo: B+
Jeremy Affeldt: D
Jose Mijares: B
Javier Lopez: A
George Kontos: D
Other assorted pitchers: C
Romo's been himself, with maybe an extra hanging slider for every 15 thrown. Affeldt deserves to have a worse ERA. So does Mijares, who's allowed 36 percent of his inherited runners to score, but he's been a pretty good lefty-only reliever. It's when he has to face right-handers that everything corrodes.
If the Giants have the Matt Cain and bullpen they expected, they're within a couple games of the division lead. You can cherry-pick all sorts of sentences like that. But I'm going with Cain and the bullpen. And I think both will be better in the second half. It will probably be too late, though. There are only 66 games left, you know.
Sixty-six games left. When you put it like that …