Ah, starting pitching. It has long been a single-checkmark staple of this era’s San Francisco Giants. It propped up mediocre-to-bad offensive production. It notched four no-hitters and a perfect game in just five seasons. It helped the team win three World Series.
This year’s starting rotation, however, leaves a lot to be desired. They rank in or near the bottom half of the entire league in just about every category. Three of the five starters (Derek Holland, Dereck Rodriguez, Drew Pomeranz) have lost their job in one sense or another. For a good chunk of the season, they struggled to make it past the fifth inning.
But the starters just did something that, as far as my research can tell, no other Giants’ rotation from this decade has done: They went 11 straight games without recording a win.
Before Madison Bumgarner finally broke the streak on Sunday, the Giants went 2+ turns of the rotation without a single starter notching a single W next to their name. But that’s only one part of the weirdness: Over that stretch, the Giants have somehow managed to go 8-3, with all three losses going on the starting pitchers’ ledger. Four of those eight wins came on walk-offs. Six (!) of those wins went to extras, and overall, the Giants’ pitching staff threw an extra game’s worth of innings.
But what’s perhaps weirdest of all is that the starting pitchers have been pretty good!
Drew Pomeranz: 1 start, 5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 4 SO, 1 BB
Shaun Anderson: 3 starts (1 loss), 14.1 IP, 18 H, 12 ER, 13 SO, 6 BB
Madison Bumgarner: 2 starts, 16 IP, 11 H, 4 ER, 13 SO, 2 BB
Tyler Beede: 2 starts (1 loss), 13.2 IP, 13 H, 4 ER, 12 SO, 2 BB
Jeff Samardzija: 2 starts (1 loss), 11 IP, 10 H, 5 ER, 13 SO, 3 BB
Conner Menez: 1 start, 5 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 6 SO, 2 BB
With the exception of Anderson, the pitchers have put together some solid numbers, producing a 3.88 ERA in the aforementioned 11 starts. Which is pretty good! It’s not great, but hey, sellers can’t be choosers.
Editor’s note: Wait, that doesn’t make se—
Anyway, it just so happens that the Giants’ offense is averaging exactly four runs per game over that same time period. Four runs are greater than 3.88, ergo the Giants are winners!
But that offensive production is a little misleading. Nearly half (19) of their 44 runs came in the first two contests of the 11-game stretch, and those games were against the Colorado Rockies. Outside of Denver, the Giants are averaging a pedestrian 2.78 runs per game, with six of their nine games decided by only one run.
Which is also weird. These Giants are weird.
Some of this is just bad luck—both Will Smith and Tony Watson gave up leads in games the Giants would eventually win—and some of it just standard 2019 Giants offensive nincompoopery. It’s also further evidence of the unsustainability of this current run, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less entertaining. This is the most fun the Giants have been in over three years, and it’s exactly these kind of strange baseball anomalies that make a long season worth watching.