Remember when Barry Zito was signed? No, of course not. You went to see Dr. Howard Mierzwiak too. But pretend you did remember. The big concern was mostly this: "A pitcher? For seven years? But pitchers don't last that long? His labrum is plotting a bloody mutiny as we speak. Terrible move."
Nobody imagined that he would be kind of a crummy pitcher for much of the first three seasons. Well, maybe there was a fear that his dropping strikeout rate belied a decline in effectiveness, but if you offered every team in the league a free Zito, they'd accept and plug him into the middle, if not top, of their rotation. Because, hey, free Zito. But he wasn't free, and therein lied the reason for the apoplexy.
The point? This was an "Oh, that Zito..." game like few others. This was a game that made you remember why he was even in line for more than a three-year deal in the first place. His improved control at the start of the year is the biggest reason for his fast start, but don't give short shrift to the changeup. FanGraphs had it as one of the least effective pitches in baseball last year, but if he can throw it for strikes with the movement it had tonight, it would be a mighty fine pitch for a left-hander like Zito.
My god, this team isn’t so bad. The Southern California trip was an anomaly. This Giants team can win through the strength of their starting pitching. They’re contenders again.