Forget the fact that the San Francisco Giants have a losing record. These things happen, and by the time you get around to reading this article it may no longer be the case anymore.
Instead, I want you to focus on the five following stat lines:
- 6.2 innings, 2 hits, 2 walks, 1 earned run, 6 strikeouts
- 5.2 innings, 6 hits, 3 walks, 3 earned runs, 7 strikeouts
- 5.1 innings, 7 hits, 3 walks, 3 earned runs, 5 strikeouts
- 5 innings, 4 hits, 3 walks, 1 earned run, 4 strikeouts
- 5 innings, 6 hits, 0 walks, 1 earned run, 4 strikeouts
Those are, as you surely surmised, the lines from the Giants five starting pitchers in their first starts of the year.
None of those starts were great, but they ranged from “quite good” to “solid enough.” Each was a start that made you think “if this team has a good offense, they’ll be in good position to win this game.”
The Giants should have a good offense.
After one pass through the rotation, the Giants starters have all pitched at least 5 innings, with no more than 3 earned runs allowed. To put it in perspective, a year ago — when they finished 29-31 with a positive run differential — the Giants didn’t have a starter pitch 5 innings until the 10th game of the year. They didn’t have five games that hit the 5 or more innings, 3 or fewer earned runs mark until game No. 17.
Admittedly there were larger rosters and weaker starting pitcher’s arms in 2020, but the point remains.
Through five games, the Giants starting pitchers are 8th in MLB in ERA, 6th in FIP, and 8th in WAR, per Fangraphs.
That’s the vision for a successful Giants season. No one is expecting Kevin Gausman to earn Cy Young votes, or for Aaron Sanchez and Anthony DeSclafani to rep the Giants in the All-Star Game. The blueprint for a good 2021 never featured stellar starting pitching. It featured good enough starting pitching that the offense could shine.
We’re still waiting for the offense to shine, and it sure would help if the bullpen and defense didn’t try their hardest to negate the efforts of the starters. But after one pass through the rotation — one of oh so many — you can at least see the outline for a quality, competitive season.