Friday, June 01, 2007

Giants Rotation Against NL West Leaders

I posted this at Bay City Ball, and thought I would share it here as well. He asked if we had a legit shot at the NL West:

I think we do. The teams above us have been playing above their heads, their pitching is not that good, whereas I think ours are legit. I think things will even out as the season progresses.

Take LA. Penny will not have a low 2 ERA all season. Lowe is just lucky on HRs right now, his ERA will rise to what he's done the past two seasons, if not more, his BB/9 is up a lot. Wolf hasn't had such a low 3 ERA since 2002, it has been low 4's or worse the past 4 seasons, plus he's been injured the past three seasons, pitchers don't suddenly get healthy, physical problems will put him on the DL again, it's like a clock. Hendrickson's already turning back into a pumpkin, he had a low ERA for a while too, and Tomko hasn't done well in Schmidt's absense. And frankly, as bad as Zito's contract can be, if the choices were Zito's contract or Schmidt's, I would choose Zito's. He's just that fragile in mind and body now, his mysterious velocity losses are perplexing.

Now SD. Peavy's good but to keep his ERA at 1.47 all season? That's Bob Gibson good, he's going to regress. Same with Chris Young and his 2.42 ERA. Both their HR/9 look abnormally low. Also Germano is abnormally good right now too, particularly with his abnormally low K/9, it is about as bad a Rueter's except that he's walking at low rates unseen since Eck pitched for the A's. They will fall back as well.

For the D-backs, I like Doug Davis, but he's not keeping a 3.27 ERA, especially not in his home park. He has somehow pitched very well there, especially keeping his HR/9 down low - I don't see how he can continue to do that in Chase, where the HR park factor there is 120, meaning 20% more HRs hit there than at average park. The other starting pitchers are that good, though, so they will still be tough as a rotation, but their relievers are not that good, they are keeping the team ERA low too, they will regress.

The Giants people will also say is pitching over their head and will regress too. First, Morris pitched this dominantly the first half of 2005 so this is not unusual, but his second half was bad. However, he just had shoulder surgery 3 months before spring training started, so I assume his inability to built strength during the offseason resulted in his losing strength in the second half. He probably won't continue below 3 ERA but he won't be that much worse in my opinion, maybe mid-to-high 3's.

Lowry actually pitched very well last year considering he couldn't throw like he normally could, he still had a below 4 ERA until his late season arm problems. Like Morris, 3.08 ERA probably not sustainable, but he should not rise a lot more, probably same range as Morris of mid-to-high 3 ERA, plus Lowry usually goes lights out good in August, so that will help keep the ERA for the rest of the season down low.

Matt Cain had a low 3 ERA after the All-Star break, so he's pitching to his capabilities. 'Nuff said.

Lincecum, well, all I can say is that he totally dominated AAA hitters - which I have not seen from any good pitching prospect over the past few years when info on the minors were prevalent, not Verlander, not Jared Weaver, not Ching-Mien Wang, not Dan Haren, not Harden, not even King Felix, nobody - like they were little leaguers and in a strong hitter's league like the PCL, so who am I or anyone else to doubt that he cannot maintain a 3.24 ERA? He has had 4 straight dominating starts, shutting down the potent NY Mets offense.

Zito, at 4.21 ERA, is above his ERA for the past two seasons when he pitched at a relatively neutral park and in the AL, but now he pitches in a relatively neutral park that minimizes one of his problems - the long ball since he is a flyball type pitcher - and in the NL where there is a pitcher hitting 2-3 times a game, not a burly DH. His ERA will go down if anything.

The bullpen is pitching a bit above their heads, but if I remember right, Hennessey's ERA as a reliever last year was in the low 3's - it was his starting that boosted his ERA overall - which is not far from his current 2.82. Correia was about this good last year so he should not do worse. And the other relievers are not that low right now, so they probably shouldn't get worse. And Sanchez is off the team now.

So teams ahead of us should fall in ERA whereas we are pretty much where we could be, should be. The argument could be made that they are all about where they should be. Morris's first half 2005: 3.10 ERA, 1.07 WHIP. Lowry has had about half the full months he has pitched with a mid-3 ERA or better, he has just been inconsistent in pitching previously so he would have a good month followed by a bad month. This could be his breakout year much like Haren is experiencing with the A's this year. Cain, as noted, has pitched like this before: second half 2006, 3.26 ERA, 1.18 WHIP. He figured out his early season problems last year and is just continuing what he was doing last year into this year. Lincecum shut down cold the PCL, something I have never seen with any other pitcher. Felix Hernandez, who is probably the most heralded prospect to come up in recent years before Lincecum, could only hold AAA hitters to a 2.25 ERA. And I gave Zito's reasons above.

4 comments:

  1. Hello, Martin. I've read elsewhere that last game Cain's fastball was only in the high 80's. Have you heard anything about this?
    BTW, I do agree that this is the 'real' Morris. Of course, Saber guys say his BB, K, HR, and BABIP rates all indicate a much poorer performance. What think you?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've read it elsewhere too but I've not seen it mentioned in any media channels yet. A bit too early for dead arm, so I'm just hoping that it was just a bad night, perhaps he was up late enjoying the night life that is abundant in NY. Hard to remember, but he is still only 22 years old and was only legal to drink about 18 months ago.

    Well, I understand why they say that, DIPS is a great theory, a great insight, that should be heeded, but my main problem is that while the rules are good generally, most don't seem to understand that there are exceptions to the DIPS rule, that there are pitchers can can control things that seemingly are out of their control.

    Morris has been lucky on a number of fronts, homeruns and BABIP in particular. But he has been a crafty finesse pitcher for a number of years now - his power is long gone - so I think that he's able to do things as a pitcher that would not work for other pitchers.

    What I'm hoping is that he teaches our young pitchers how to do that as well, and it gets handed down to future generations of Giants pitchers by word of mouth. A crafty power pitcher should be able to dominate most of the time.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I noticed today that the Padres have the highest run scoring differential in the NL (62 runs), equal to the Mets. The Mets have the best NL record. Given that, I wouldn't characterize San Diego as playing above their heads - just the opposite.

    Similar are the Giants, who have out-scored their opponents by 28 runs, yet have a losing record.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I see what you are saying but you don't understand my point, that has nothing to do with my statement.

    What you are describing is how well they are playing up to now. I do not dispute that, though I didn't make it clear either, so I'll make it clear here: the Padres are playing very well right now BUT they are playing over their heads, they are not that good and/or playing at a pace that is unlikely to be sustained over a full season.

    Unless, that is, you think Peavy's going to keep his ERA down near 1.47 all season long and Chris Young will keep his near 2.42.

    To see how unlikely this is, last year Roy Oswalt led the NL with an ERA of 2.98, the year before Roger Clemens had an ERA of 1.87 (followed by Andy Pettitte with 2.39), and the year before that Peavy had an ERA of 2.27.

    So as you can see, even the top pitchers had a hard time keeping their ERA over an entire season under 2.00, let alone as low as 1.47. And while Chris Young is a very good pitcher, he hasn't shown that he can pitch at such a high level for even half a year - he had a 2.97 ERA the first half of last season, then an ERA of 4.06.

    Does that mean he won't do it? No. But just like you noted the team's run differential of 62 runs, most times those 62 runs would mean you have a lot more wins than losses, but sometimes you still end up at .500; most of the time, a pitcher will not be able to keep up such a great pace and pitch worse later in the year. Not all the time, but most of the time.

    These pitchers have not shown the ability to keep at such historically great ERAs over a full season, so it is unlikely that they will be able to keep their ERA so low, and thus they are pitching over their heads.

    ReplyDelete

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