I think it was Earl Weaver who said, "The best thing to do with young pitchers is put them in the starting rotation, then put them in the bullpen, then put them back in the rotation, then put them back in the bullpen, and then put them in the rotation until they get hurt." Wait, maybe that wasn't Weaver. Branch Rickey? Tony LaRussa? Hmm. I can't remember. A collection of twisted minds within the Giants organization? Ah. Ding ding ding. That's the one. The way the Giants used Jonathan Sanchez makes sense if you think about it after a night of Robotussin manhattans.
Sanchez finally stuck in the rotation last year, dominating hitters through June before finishing with a higher ERA close to Barry Zito's. Still, the promise Sanchez showed was tantalizing. FanGraphs also figures that Sanchez was a little unlucky last year, and they also noted...
I'm guessing that Lincecum isn't on there because he threw a brazillion pitches to get his strikeouts. Still, that's some crazy company for Sanchez to keep. From April to June, it was easy to believe. Looking at the year-end stats, even accounting for the poor luck, it's hard to imagine a pitcher with a 5.00+ ERA could make hitters flail so wildly.
He went down in the middle of last season with a mystery shoulder injury, which is always splendid news for a young pitcher. He came back in September, mixed a couple of good starts with a couple of wretched ones, and rested for the winter. And by "rested," I mean "pitched a bunch of innings in winter leagues across the globe in preparation for pitching high-leverage innings for Puerto Rico's team." You know, exactly what we all hoped for.
So I'm not sure where to go with this projection. Systems from around the world wide net:
CHONE: 120 IP, 116 K, 55 BB, 4.05 ERA
ZiPS: 103 IP, 98 K, 53 BB, 4.28
PECOTA: 135 IP, 128 K, 59 BB, 4.25 ERA
It's worth noting that as yicky as the ZiPS projection is, the ERA still comes out to be below the league average. I wouldn't read too much into the innings pitched projections, as they're mostly based on the totals from previous seasons.
I don't think the breakout comes this year. But we're teased. Again. Dang it.