Jake Peavy got hit hard in his first spring training start. If, like most people, you're not surprised/worried/awake, this might seem like a non-story. It will be early to draw conclusions on May 1. It is definitely too early to draw conclusions right now.
So I'll pause while you all draw conclusions from this single spring start.
March is the month when I type "spring training doesn't matter" until my cuticles turn into a viscous goo. It's the month where you're comfortable with the knowledge that spring training matter. It's the month where all of us secretly pay attention to spring training results. Such a coy dance, every year.
However, I'm here to prove that we don't need to pay attention to this stuff! Here's a brief history of the pitchers who stunk in recent spring trainings and went on to have solid-to-excellent seasons.
Madison Bumgarner, 2015
Ha ha, look at this stupid headline:
Is it time to worry about Madison Bumgarner?
No. And I knew it wasn't, either, but you don't get to shop at places like Ross if you don't bring those clicks in. Still, Bumgarner had a miserable spring last year, even going so far as skipping a start against the Dodgers to throw on the side. His final line: 0-3, 4.91 ERA. He also had 18 strikeouts to a single walk in 18⅓ innings, so it's possible -- just possible -- that too much was made out of a small, meaningless sample.
His final line: much better than that.
Tim Hudson, 2014
In 2014, Matt Cain was awful in the spring, but he ... wait, let's start again. In 2014, Tim Lincecum had a rough spring, but ... okay, no, try this one. In 2014, Ryan Vogelsong was ...
Tim Hudson was bad in the 2014 Cactus League! Yes, we'll stick with that one. And while Hudson tired down the stretch, he pitched so well in the first part of '14 that he made the All-Star team. His rough start to the spring (four homers, 11 walks, 12 runs in 25 innings) didn't carry over.
Yusmeiro Petit, 2013
In 2013, Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum were both bad, but I can't think of a way to end this sentence without contradicting my thesis, so I'm going to start a new paragraph.
Petit was dreadful in 2013, looking like someone who would never reach the majors again. He gave up 17 hits and 10 runs in 12 innings, only to come up at the end of the year and be a longer thorax away from a perfect game. He was a valuable member of the Giants for the next two years.
Sergio Romo, 2012
Tim Lincecum's spring was rough in 2012, but he ended up having a lousy regular season. Which proves the opposite of what I'm trying to prove once again. Oh, come on. You can't make me write something about how spring training stats for pitchers actually do matter. Someone needs to help me out.
Give me Sergio Romo, then, who ended the season with a well-timed sinker, but started it with dingers and hits and hits and dingers in the spring. For whatever reason, Romo is a slow starter in the spring, probably because his slider is a wizard pitch that requires an artisan's touch.
Madison Bumgarner, 2011
Bumgarner also struggled in that spring, too, allowing four homers in 27 innings and not missing nearly as many bats as we were used to. He was fine. Lincecum was miserable in this spring, too, but he also had the last excellent season of his career (so far!) Jeff Suppan also had a rough spring, but oh my stars I forgot that Jeff Suppan was in the Giants' camp in 2011. That is some odd-year tomfoolery, alright.
On the other side of the ledger, Barry Zito had a best-shape-of-his-life kind of spring that gave him a little momentum. It didn't carry over.
Tim Lincecum, 2010
Madison Bumgarner pitched his way out of the fifth starter's gig. His velocity was down, and it became very clear that he had no business sneaking into the rotation before his 21st birthday. Todd Wellemeyer pitched well enough in the spring to steal the job away.
Print that paragraph up and tape it above your desk. Nothing says "spring training just might not predict the regular season all that well" more than that paragraph.
But it was Lincecum's spring that was getting all the attention in 2010, as he walked 10 batters in 11 innings, missing a couple starts to work out the kinks. He was coming off a Cy Young season, and he ended the year throwing eight strong innings against the Rangers in a notable interleague matchup. In between, there was a noxious spring.
Also of note: Byung-hyung Kim was in Giants' camp that spring. I think we need a post on all the random non-Giants who wore Giants uniforms for a month. Will endeavor.
Matt Cain, 2009
Cain led the team in innings that spring, but he also led the team in earned runs, walks, and home runs allowed. He made his first All-Star team that summer, and he had (by WAR, at least) his strongest regular season.
I was so sure the Giants were going to waste that 2009 pitching staff. So very sure. And they did, at least for a season. But it was one of the best pitching seasons we'll ever see.
We'll stop there because I don't really remember anything before 2009. Though I'll point out that Tim Lincecum wasn't sharp in 2008 during the spring, either. I'm starting to think that he's never been very excited about pitching in spring training.
You can find evidence of pitchers combusting in the spring and doing the same in the regular season. You can find evidence of pitchers combusting in the spring and having excellent seasons. It's a bunch of noise, and you're not smart enough to find the signal in it. Jake Peavy was hit hard? It would have been a lot cooler if he got six strikeouts on 18 pitches, but I'll wait at least two months to start worrying about anyone.