Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What Starter Can You Trust? and Brandon Belt's Struggles

Cain thinking about what he did
1. Matt Cain
2. Madison Bumgarner
3. Ryan Vogelsong
4. Barry Zito
5. Tim Lincecum

This is my list of our starting pitchers and the order in which I trust them.  But in a wacky first few weeks of the season, the list looks something like this.

1. Madison Bumgarner
2. Barry Zito
3. Tim Lincecum
4. Ryan Vogelsong
5. Matt Cain

Don't get me wrong, my trust of Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong has not gone anywhere, I still believe they will regain their form, but as of right now, I don't really know what I'll get out of them from a start to start basis. 

Starting with Vogelsong who did end up pitching 7 innings yesterday but gave up 4 runs including a solo home run to the PITCHER Wade Miley.  By the way that's the 3rd home run by a pitcher allowed by Giants pitching this year and there have only been 5 home runs by pitchers the entire year...

But enough of that, this is how Vogelsong's games have gone so far

vs. STL    5.1 IP 5 ER - Loss
@ CHC   6 IP 4 ER - Win
@ MIL     7 IP 3 ER - Loss
vs. ARI     7 IP 4 ER - Win

In case you were wondering, Vogey had 19 Quality Starts (6 IP 3 ER) last year in his first 20.  This year he's 1 for 4 and has a 1-1 record mostly because the Giants have been doing a good job with run support this year.  Vogey's main problem this year has been his fastball command and has not been able to control both sides of the plate like he was able to last year.  That struggle with control has spiked his walk count up, and with that his ERA has ballooned this year to 5.68. 

Now look at today's starter Matt Cain.  7.15 ERA and still looking for his first win.  The Giants are 0-4 in his starts this year.  You look at that and it looks like he's in an even deeper hole than Vogey is in.  But his actual starts tell a different story.

@ LAD   6 IP 0 ER - Loss
vs STL    3.2 IP 9 ER - Loss
@ CHC  7 IP 2 ER - Loss
@ MIL   6 IP 7 ER - Loss

Sure, Milwaukee was bad for everyone.  Cain gave up a homer to the .22 DUI having pitcher Gallardo that day too.  And St. Louis just had a ridiculous inning that we all wish never happened.  But of his four starts, Cain has had 2 very respectable lines of 6 IP 0 ER at LA and 7 IP 2 ER in Chicago.  He may not be entirely consistent yet this year, but I know his stuff is there because I've seen it, and just like Vogey, once in awhile that fastball tails back right over the plate, and hitters run into it. 

As much as I still trust these guys, there's no question that the tide seems to be turning for Lincecum and Barry Zito has become our new horse as of late. 

Check out their game logs:

Tim Lincecum

@ LAD  5 IP 2 ER - Win
vs. COL 6 IP 6 ER - Win
@ CHC 5 IP 4 ER - Win
vs SD     6.2 IP 0 ER - Win

Barry Zito

vs. STL   7 IP 0 ER - Win
vs. COL  7 IP 0 ER - Win
@ MIL   2.2 IP 9 ER - Loss
vs. SD     7 IP 0 ER - Win

If we're doing a start by start comparison, Matt Cain has so far had a better season than Tim Lincecum, but Timmy is 2-0 with a 3.97 ERA and Cain has a 7.15 ERA and is 0-2.  Meanwhile, Zito has just been masterful besides his hiccup in Milwaukee.  As Kuip put it on the radio, those games in Milwaukee probably just shouldn't have counted.  As for Timmy, although he definitely had a lot of help getting these wins, it's important to point out that last year, the Giants didn't win 4 games in Timmy's starts until his 18th start. 

Another thing to note is that Cain had to face two aces for the two good starts he had and Timmy hasn't faced any.  That's sort of the thing you get when you're a #1 starter, and Timmy understands the pressure that comes with.  Cain however has never done this before except for the playoffs last year.  

It's still early as we always say, but It's been interesting to see where the Giants are piling up on wins so far this year.

Madison Bumgarner was not an important part of this comparison because he's still good, but he's 3-0 with a 2.05 ERA for those scoring at home. 


Brandon Belt sat for the 2nd game in a row in favor of Joaquin Arias who needed to get some at-bats anyway and it seemed to have helped. 

After a little hitting session with hitting genius Bruce Bochy, Belt was up to bat in the bottom of the 9th last night with Torres at 2nd and lined one to center field for a walk-off hit and apparently the first he's had in his major league career. 

What I took away from that was that he went opposite field with that hit and he swung on the 2nd pitch.  Brandon's been great at working counts, and that's definitely one of his strengths, but when he has a pitch to hit, very often he'll just watch it go and not take a good hack.  Yesterday's game winner showed some more aggressiveness at the plate and showed a great opposite field approach which is what he needs to do if he wants to climb out of his slump.

Laws of the Day

Andres Torres struck out on 3 pitches in 23 seconds

Brandon Belt hit the game winner on his 2nd pitch seen of the game

Romo got the win after throwing 1 pitch to Eric Hinske

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