I think an English major ex-girlfriend once called me oblique during an argument. I'm pretty sure I deserved it. Until now, there was no other frame of reference for the term, but Giant pitchers are currently pulling oblique muscles as if it triggers an incentive clause in their contracts. Minor leaguer Craig Whitaker strained his oblique, Brian Wilson strained an oblique or two picking up the roses I sent to him yesterday, and the organization's southpaw golden boy, Noah Lowry, was the first to fall to the freak oblique physique tweak.
Sorry about that one.
One of the bigger surprises in the early part of the season is just how little the Giants have missed Lowry. He was the strongest starter in the second half of last season, and was dazzling for the first twelve or so pitches of this season. When he went off the mound during the home opener, it tempered any giddiness that might have been had after a rousing win. The early word on the injury was four to six weeks, which seemed devastating at the time.
Now we're getting closer to that return estimate, and Lowry is throwing off the mound without pain. The only issue is the lack of devastation caused by his absence. Brad Hennessey was the replacement for Lowry, and has been pitching like a man who wants Jamey Wright to experience and savor all the splendor Fresno has to offer. The only problem is Wright has been outstanding. They might have been about to start putting their heads together, Legion of Doom-style, trying to figure out a way to sabotage Matt Cain's starts. Then Cain dazzles in his most recent start, and fouls everything up.
Wright's dodgy control might soon pitch the Giants out of a few wins, but he hasn't come close to doing anything yet to make the team start thinking about other options. He's been an early revelation. When you see a guy with Wright's arm start to put up good results, you want to ride that raffle ticket into the ground. Cain isn't really going to learn more in AAA than he is here, and he'll mix in enough starts like last night's to want to keep him in the rotation.
That leaves Hennessey, and the early scuttlebutt is that he might keep the long relief job over Kevin Correia. While it's hard to argue he deserves to go back to AAA, it's harder to argue for his continued development to come at four innings per week. If Hennessey really has turned some sort of corner with his ability to keep his pitches down, he needs innings to repeat whatever he's doing. For a pitcher who has had an unorthodox development timeline due to injuries, it isn't inconceivable for his improvement to be genuine. Jerking him around isn't going to help anyone right now.
It's a good problem to have, though, and it takes any pressure that might have been put on Lowry to rush back as soon as he could.