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State of the Tomko

There is a popular theory that Brett Tomko can not hold his emotions in check, coughing up runs as soon as a blown call or error goes against him. It has always seemed a little bit simplistic, but Tomko himself has spent some time on a sports psychiatrist's couch, and that's a pretty drastic step. There might be something to the theory. With each time he pitches, Tomko exhibits why he's the leading spokesperson for I Can't Believe It's Not Great Stuff!, and you really just can't believe it's not. Mid-90s fastball. Fair off-speed pitch. Decent control. He'll cruise for four innings, the suspenders will snap, and as he's picking his pants off the floor, five runs score. I Can't Believe It's Not Great Stuff!

His game last night was phenomenal. Where he wanted the ball to go is where it went. Daryle Ward did not ever give the impression he could pick up Tomko's changeup in the dirt, and Tomko just kept hitting the same spot with the pitch. His fastballs were on the corners, and his breaking balls were thrown low in the strike zone with a strong bite. When Mike Matheny was giving him a bear hug after the complete game, you weren't thinking, "How has this guy never been above-average?" You were thinking, "How has this guy never competed for a Cy Young." It's a fair wager that over 50% of this site's readers have, at one point in their life, been on hold with Comcast longer than it took Tomko to complete the game last night.

The caveats are obvious: The Pirates weren't exactly throwing George Brett, Hank Aaron, and Willie Mays out there. Heck, they weren't exactly throwing Ken Brett, Tommie Aaron, and, uh, Ronnie Mays out there. Ward is a nice reclamation project, and he's torched the Giants this year, but he's no one's idea of a clean-up hitter. The number five hitter wouldn't crack the starting eight of more than a few teams. This is all relevant, but you can't judge a performance on the what-ifs. Yes, maybe if Tomko were going against the Red Sox at Fenway, maybe someone would have slapped one of those outside fastballs over the Green Monster. Mail those concerns to the alternate dimension where it's relevant.

Tomko is our most consistent starter. Kirk Rueter is close behind. Noah Lowry is struggling with his control, and Jerome Williams is going through some Job-like struggles with his career. Jason Schmidt can't be efficient, and he can't be effective for longer than a couple of innings at a time. (Update: Now he's on the shelf. Just wonderful.) With Pedro Feliz morphing into a -- gasp! -- intelligent, reliable hitter, and Jason Ellison running around like some early-80s Rickey Henderson, the Giants could have put some distance between themselves and the rest of the division if the pitching were as good as hoped. There's still time, but read those first two sentences of this paragraph again. If Tomko is going to be the most consistent starter, the only way the Giants will have a chance at making the playoffs is if he's damn good. Last's night game was a solid opening argument