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What does Steamer think of the Giants’ pitchers?

Pitching was one of the Giants’ few strengths last year. Can they keep it up in 2019?

MLB: Colorado Rockies at San Francisco Giants Kiel Maddox-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, I looked at what Jared Cross’ Steamer projections thought of the Giants hitters, so now it’s time to look at what they think of the Giants pitchers. The entire projections are hosted at FanGraphs if you want to take a look for yourself. If you were nonplussed by the hitter’s projections, prepare to be plussed even less by the pitcher projections. As before, all the pitchers are put into four categories based on how well the projections match my expectations and biases. These categories are:

· I told you he was good

· It is what it is

· I will fight you, Steamer

· Yikes

I told you he was good

Andrew Suárez

158 IP, 3.85 ERA, 3.97 FIP, 130 SO, 50 BB, 17 HR

Andrew Suárez was upstaged by Dereck Rodríguez, but Suárez had a solid rookie season. Steamer projects Suárez to lower his ERA by three quarters of a run in his sophomore season, and it supposes that he’ll do a better job of keeping the ball in the ballpark. Suárez’s ceiling is supposed to be a number four starter, but these look like a number three line to me. If this projection is unexciting, just know that Suárez is projected to have the lowest ERA out of any starter, and I needed to put someone from the rotation in this category.

Ray Black

30 IP, 3.01 ERA, 3.09 FIP, 42 SO, 14 BB, 3 HR

Parts of Ray Black’s 2018 were exceptional parts of it were collar-tug inducing nightmares. He gave up three runs in his debut, but he followed that up with 10 1/3 hitless innings. He followed those up with another meltdown. When Black wasn’t striking fools out, he was giving up dingers. If he just keeps the ball in the yard, he’ll be great. Steamer thinks he can do it, and I see no reason to argue.

It is what it is

Jeff Samardzija

165 IP, 4.25 ERA, 4.24 FIP, 134 SO, 47 BB, 22 HR

Jeff Samardzija missed most of 2018 because of injury problems. When he did pitch, we wished he hadn’t. Samardzija putting in 165 innings would be welcome even if those innings weren’t great. A 4.25 ERA isn’t exciting, so you can put him in the Yikes category if you want, but if Samardzija can stay on the mound and not pitch like Matt Moore, I’ll take it.

Chris Stratton

126 IP, 4.30 ERA, 4.36 FIP, 100 SO, 47 BB, 15 HR

Can Farhan Zaidi and whoever he brings in for research and development figure out what to do with Chris Stratton’s high-spin curveball? Possibly, but I’m not going to hold my breath. A season like what Steamer is projecting would be roughly the same as what he did in 2018. He’ll get torn up a few times, but he might also tie for the majors lead in complete game shutouts again.

Ty Blach

108 IP, 4.20 ERA, 4.33 ERA, 68 SO, 35 BB, 12 HR

Yeah, this seems like a Ty Blach season.

Tony Watson

55 IP, 3.43 ERA, 3.57 FIP, 54 SO, 18 BB, 5 HR

Nearly a strikeout an inning and just 18 walks would make for a fine season. I’ll take the under on the ERA because that would be his worst mark since his rookie year, and I have more faith in the Giants’ defense to help him out.

Reyes Moronta

45 IP, 3.43 ERA, 3.61 FIP, 55 SO, 23 BB, 4 HR

He’ll strike out more than a batter per inning, but he’ll also walk the leadoff hitter in every other outing. As with Watson, I think he’ll outpitch his ERA projection, but the peripherals seem right on.

I will fight you, Steamer

Dereck Rodríguez

159 IP, 4.44 ERA, 4.54 FIP, 78 SO, 53 BB, 22 HR

Look, I know that Dereck Rodríguez vastly outperformed the fielding independent metrics last year. There’s a reason he didn’t get a single Rookie of the Year vote, and it’s not that he’s 27 and that goes against the spirit of the award. His ERA was nearly a run lower than his FIP, a run and a half better than xFIP and SIERA, and two and a half better than his DRA. But, like, Steamer just isn’t feeling the flow, man. We still don’t know a whole lot about pitching to contact, but Rodríguez looks like he can do it.

His barrel percentage against was in the top two percent of the league. His xwOBA against was just .297 and league average is .314. Just, uh, don’t read the Baseball Prospectus article that says that stuff isn’t predictive.

Madison Bumgarner

203 IP, 3.91 ERA, 4.00 FIP, 183 SO, 57 BB, 26 HR

It took a while to decide on where Bumgarner should land. The 200+ innings and reduced walk rate made me think he should go in the “I told you he was good,” but the middling ERA and FIP made it seem like he should go in “It is what it is.” The 4.00 FIP is right in line with what he’s done the past two years. But then I took a look at the home run totals, and I don’t think there’s any way he’ll give up 26. The only time in his career he gave up that many was in 2016 when he threw 226 innings. Home runs were way up in 2016 likely because the ball was different.

Home runs were down nine percent from 2017 to 2018, and I suspect they’ll be around the same in 2019. I’m not basing that on any numbers. It’s just a hunch that backs up Bumgarner being better than Steamer says he will.

Will Smith

65 IP, 3.08 ERA, 3.17 FIP, 78 SO, 24 BB, 6 HR

Will Smith’s projections are pretty solid considering Steamer tends to be conservative. Smith is projected to have a very similar season to Blake Treinen for instance. But Steamer is predicting that Smith will have his lowest K/9 since putting on a Giants uniform by a full batter, and that just doesn’t jive with me.

Yikes

Hunter Strickland

40 IP, 4.10 ERA, 4.24 FIP, 35 SO, 16 BB, 5 HR

Strickland is coming off his worst season, and Steamer isn’t convinced he’ll bounce back. He’s losing his ability to hit the strike zone and miss bats. MLB Trade Rumors estimates he’ll make $2.5 million next year which isn’t egregious, but it shouldn’t be hard to replace that level of production for the same amount of money or less.

Sam Dyson

55 IP, 3.63 ERA, 3.73 FIP, 45 SO, 20 BB, 4 HR

Dyson’s projections aren’t bad, but are they good enough to justify an estimated $5 million? Probably not. Still, if I had a choice between Strickland at $2.5 million or Dyson at $5 million, I’d go with Dyson. He’s the more capable pitcher, and he makes his cat wear a bowtie, so you know he’ll never punch a door.

Mark Melancon

65 IP, 3.52 ERA, 3.59 FIP, 56 SO, 20 BB, 6 HR

There’s an argument to be made that Melancon should have gone in the “It is what it is” category. His run estimator projections are about the same as Moronta’s and Watsons. The thing that puts him down here though is the contract. $15.5 million AAV and a full no-trade clause is pretty steep for a league-average reliever.

Do I think that Melancon can still be an effective pitcher? Totally. Do I also think that the contract impairs the Giants’ flexibility and that money could be better spent elsewhere? Yep.


The Giants don’t have a pitcher that really blows Steamer away, but they also don’t have anyone that it really hates. Okay, it kind of hates Dereck Rodríguez, but we’ve already established that Steamer is dumb and wrong when it comes to him. Will a perfectly acceptable pitching staff carry this team to a postseason berth on its own? No. Will it make you want to cover your eyes whenever the other team is up to bat? Also no.