First and foremost, they've only pitched in a few games and thus small samples all over the place. Still, it is not comforting when Matt Cain's ERA is 7.85 even after a nice game pitched today. So here are my thoughts, in order of IP in the Giants stats page (starters only):
- Cain: the only really glaring problem is hits given up and all I have to say is that Cain was able to fool batters all year round once he loosened up after his skipped start, getting an impressive number of 1-hitters during the season. So hits are not a big problem, plus the going theory right now is that hits are random for most pitchers. His main problem last year was walks, having his BB/9 in the high 3's, low 4's much of the season. This spring: 2.0 BB/9 (actually less but I can't do the math of 18.333 into 36 in my head). Plus he has continued to strike them out in droves, 15 in 18.1 IP. So his K/BB is a wonderful 3.75 (where you want > 2.0 and the better pitchers have > 2.4). If he can continue this into the season, we are talking about a Schmidt-like 2003-2004 type of season. So I see things as pretty good here.
- Ortiz: nothing to really say anything bad except for the number of HRs but the news said one was a gift, which then means the HR total is OK. Walks had always been a problem area and he is walking only 2.5 BB/9, which is good, but for him is excellent, he's usually over 4. His K/BB is 2.6, again good. Looks good overall, which will be a huge advantage in the #5 starting spot.
- Lowry: Looks bad, with 6.08 ERA, but not terribly so once you look at it this way. Hits are low so that is good. HR is bad but for 13.1 IP, it is only good if you give up 0 or 1 HR, and he gave up 2. Could be random luck there. Walks is where it is horrible, with 10 in 13.1 IP. In fact, it really is the only bad stat in the pack for Lowry, as he has 10 strikeouts, which I think is more significant. That works out to about 7 K/9 which is about the rate he had done in 2004-5. Last year, he couldn't strike out 6 K/9, let alone 7 K/9. However, all through his career, he has always been good at keeping his walk total down. So have faith that he will figure it out by the time opening day comes and the 7 K/9 shows that he is probably back to the health he had in 2004-5 and not the problems he had in 2006 (he was able to raise his K/9 during the season, but he could only get to the high 5's by the end of the season).
- Zito: Doing OK despite a 4.85 ERA. 13 IP, 13 hits, 5 BB, 11 SO, only 1 HR. Walks a little high but he's always high during his career. More significantly, his strikeouts are very high, for his recent seasons, I think since his Cy Young year, it is almost 8 K/9 this spring. Don't know if he has streaks where he strikes out a lot, I'll have to look at his game stats for the past few years to see.
- Hennessey: It appears that he's a bit uncontented - talked about getting a chance elsewhere at one point this spring, if I remember right - probably because he didn't even get a chance to compete for the #5 spot, only Ortiz and Sanchez. However, he's pitching like he doesn't want a spot on the major league team right now either: 11.45 ERA, 11 IP, 20 H, 3 HR, 7 BB, only 6 SO (which is normal for him). Don't know if he still has any options, but he could be going down. Too bad, he pitched really well last year in relief, I thought he would be someone we could rely on in the bullpen as a spot starter.
- Lincecum: Bad ERA (6.43) but just bad luck in small IP. 7 IP, 8 hits, 1 HR, 1 BB, 7 SO. That line looks like a great PQS of 4 and just short of 5 by 1 hit. I think no matter how poorly relievers are doing, Lincecum is starting off the year in Fresno and be ready to come up, first one up, when anyone drops out of the rotation.
- Morris: Bad everything thus far, nothing good to speak of. The only good thing is that he had that good outing against minor leaguers the other day, but then again, only A-ball hitters, so he better do well. All I can say is that he's a pro and should be ready when the season start but the stats don't look good at all. When he is healthy he should be a mid-4 ERA or better, so hopefully there is not mysterious injury affecting him.
- Sanchez: Horrible hits but everything is pretty normal (BB/9; K/9) or random looking (HR/9; H/9). I think he is probably fine, hard to tell with only 6 IP, but the key numbers are his BB/9, K/9, and K/BB and they are all OK, nothing bad, whereas H/9 and HR/9 can and do vary greatly in short series.