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A tale of two Discos

Anthony DeSclafani’s season was mostly really good, with a sprinkle of really bad.

MLB: San Diego Padres at San Francisco Giants D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

Our next 2021 San Francisco Giants player review is right-handed pitcher Anthony DeSclafani.

2021 review

31 games, 167.2 innings, 3.17 ERA, 3.62 FIP, 152 strikeouts, 42 walks, 3.0 fWAR, 3.9 rWAR

Technically speaking, the above stat line is the way to describe Anthony DeSclafani’s first season with the Giants. But why describe someone’s season in one stat line, when you could instead describe it in two? Two stat lines is always better, especially if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.

So here are two Anthony DeSclafani stat lines:

25 games, 140.2 innings, 108 hits, 13 home runs, 125 strikeouts, 27 walks, 37 earned runs, 2.38 ERA, 0.96 WHIP


7 games, 28.2 innings, 38 hits, 6 home runs, 29 strikeouts, 15 walks, 24 earned runs, 7.66 ERA, 1.88 WHIP

The first stat line is a player who receives Cy Young votes. That’s a better ERA than Corbin Burnes. It’s fewer than one baserunner per inning. It’s basically a walk a start. It’s elite. The Giants went 18-7 in those starts.

The second stat line is the No. 14 prospect on a 70-win team who gets called up in August about two years ahead of schedule because the team traded all of their pitchers capable of having an ERA under 6. The Giants went 3-4 in those starts.

If you paid attention to the Giants season at all, you know what those two stat lines represent. The latter is Disco’s seven starts against the Los Angeles Dodgers, including a postseason outing in which he failed to make it out of the second inning. The former is his 25 starts against everybody else.

It makes his season rather impossible to properly evaluate. Do you look at the elite performance in nearly 80% of his starts — unquestionably a huge part of the Giants having the best record in baseball? Or do you focus on the handful of performances against the team’s arch-rival, making him partially responsible for the season going down to the very last day, and the NLDS ending in disappointment?

More importantly, what do the Giants make of that? Do they see a great pitcher who had some rough outings at the wrong time? Do they see a good pitcher and regard his poor performance coming solely against the Dodgers as nothing other than funny variance? Or do they see someone fundamentally flawed, as exposed by a team that many felt was the best in baseball?

The boring and overused answer in baseball is that the truth is probably somewhere in the middle, and that answer is boring and overused because it’s correct. DeSclafani was good: not great, but good. The Dodgers had his number: probably not as much as the basic stat line suggests, but they had it.

Ultimately the Giants won the division. Having a pitcher who was awful against the Dodgers but great against everyone else wasn’t comfortable, but it was highly effective.

Role in 2022

It’s hard to get a read on how the Giants feel about Disco. They said they want to do their best to run it back next year, and DeSclafani was clearly one of their top pitchers. But they also didn’t extend the qualifying offer his way, claiming that he was looking for a multi-year deal — something that didn’t stop them with Brandon Belt this year, or Kevin Gausman a season ago.

At this point it feels like a toss-up as to whether Disco will be back in a similar role next year, or playing elsewhere. Whether in San Francisco or somewhere else, let’s hope he figures out how to pitch against the Dodgers.

Grade: B+


How would you grade Anthony DeSclafani’s season?

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