Monday, June 02, 2008

2008 Giants: May PQS

This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the month of May 2008, PQS as defined in Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster annual book and they published the details here. I wrote on this first in 2006 and have compiled their stats on a regular basis, so I'm continuing it this season for continuity and historical comparison (there is the "PQS" label that you can click to see the old posts on this).

This is the Quality Start with a sabermetric DIPS twist, and it gets really easy to calculate once you get used to it. I don't think it's the end all or be all, but then nothing really is that. It is, as I like to say, another piece of the puzzle. A dominating start is scored a 4 or 5 and a disaster start is scored a 0 or 1. DOM% is the percentage of starts that are dominating, DIS% is the percentage of starts that are disasters (any start under 5.0 IP is automatically a 0, or disaster).

Basically, you want to see a pitcher's DOM% to be over 40% and ideally over 50%, and you want their DIS to be under 20% and ideally under 10%. For example, Johan Santana has a 76% DOM and 3% DIS in 2006 (2.77 ERA), whereas Orlando Hernandez had a 52% DOM and 28% DIS (4.66 ERA), and Adam Eaton had a 31% DOM and 31% DIS (5.12 ERA). See my explanation down below on methodology plus read the link, there's a nice chart there showing the combination of high DOM% and low DIS%, and particularly how low DIS% is so important.

Giants Starters' PQS for 2008 Season (as of May 31st, 2008)

Matt Cain - (62% DOM, 15% DIS; 8:2/13): 3, 0, 4, 0, 5, 2, 4, 4, 4, 3, 4, 5, 5

Kevin Correia - (75% DOM, 25% DIS; 3:1/4): 4, 4, 4, 1 (did not count start where injured)

Tim "The Kid" Lincecum - (82% DOM, 0% DIS; 9:0/11): 4, 5, 4, 4, 3, 5, 4, 5, 4, 5, 3 (didn't count relief outing as start)

Pat Misch - (43% DOM, 29% DIS; 3:2/7): 4, 0, 4, 4, 2, 0, 2 (counted relief after Zito since 6 IP)

Jonathan Sanchez - (36% DOM, 27% DIS; 4:3/11): 0, 5, 2, 3, 5, 3, 0, 0, 5, 3, 5

Barry Zito - ( 27% DOM, 36% DIS; 3:4/11): 1, 1, 3, 3, 0, 0 (Skip), 4, 3, 2, 4, 4


Giants season overall - 52% DOM, 22% DIS out of 58 games counted (30:13/58)

Giants Month of April - 43% DOM, 30% DIS out of 30 games counted (13:9/30)

Giants Month of May - 61% DOM, 14% DIS out of 28 games counted (17:4/28)

First, some procedural notes. I didn't count Lincecum's relief session as a start, nor did I count it as a start for Valdez, in the D-gers game. I also didn't count Correia's injury start where he only pitched a third of an inning. However, I did count Misch's first outing, in relief of Zito, as a start because he went 6 innings and I felt he deserved it.

The Giants starters had a much better May than they did in April. In fact, it was darn dominating, wiht a 61% overall DOM - remember only the best pitchers have a DOM over 50% and we have a rotation that is easily over that. And have two pitchers cleary among the best in the majors in DOM in Lincecum and Cain.

As expected, The Kid lead the way with five dominating starts in 6 starts in May, but this time Cain mans up and matches him. In addition, Zito got himself together and put together a nice string of starts after getting skipped. Misch and Sanchez were inconsistent, but then again, so are most teams #4 and #5 starters. Plus the more important thing is that Sanchez has (with today's start) put together a good string of 3 DOM starts out of 4 without a DIS. In addition, Misch has been removed from the rotation and Correia is due back soon. If Correia can return to his early season form, then the rotation can really be cooking with no pitcher prone to DIS but capable of throwing out a DOM easily. So the potential is now there for the five of them to all start clicking together and the Giants would regularly put together streaks where they win 8 or 9 of 10.

The main problem in May is that after we lost Valdez, the bullpen started suffering and had a number of bad outings and blown saves. So despite the great pitching on the part of the starters, we have won about the same number of games in May as April. But with Correia and Valdez soon to return, plus Hinshaw giving the bullpen a real boost, the pitching staff appears ready to soon showing off how good they are and winning a lot of games for us.

What's Good and What's Not

A DOM at or above the 40% mark is indicative of good pitching; above 50% is great; above 70% is elite. A low DIS is also indicative of good pitching, just look at the table in the link above showing DOM% and DIS% on the axes. Thus what Correia has done so far in limited starts is startingly good, that's why he is now in the mix for the #5 starting position for the 2008 season, as Sabean had noted in one of his post-season talks, along with Sanchez, who previously was the favorite for that spot; now it's a competition.

If you had to chose a high DOM% or a low DIS%, pitchers tend to have a lower ERA when you have a low DIS% vs. a high DOM% (obviously if you combine both, you have a much better chance of having an elite pitcher). That's how Lowry was able to pitch well last year, keeping his ERA low while still recovering from his strained oblique and being unable to strike out hitters as much as before, he had very few disaster starts until he had his arm problems and got bombed in September, he had a good ERA, in the high 3's until those starts.

May's Comments

The Giants, as I noted in my post the other day, have suffered at home due to poor hitting by the vets we count on for offense in the middle of the lineup, particularly Rowand and Molina, who are our main middle of lineup guys, the key #4 and #5 hitters, as some studies show, who we need to drive in runs.

Also, as noted above, the bullpen has been not as stellar as they were in April, particularly once Valdez went on the DL. They will have to buckle down and do well, if the Giants are to do anything in 2008 and beyond, they will need a sturdy bullpen.

The starting pitching is starting to dominate the way I've been saying since the off-season started. It has even been better lately because Sanchez has been doing well, though it remains to be seen whether he swings wildly up and down the rest of the season or has really attained a new level of performance. It also remains to be seen whether Correia can continue where he left off, or if there is some layer of rustiness that needs to be shaken off, or worse, the injury affects him all season. Still, as our #4/#5 starter with Sanchez, they should still be better than any other team's pairing of #4/#5 and will be able to keep us in games more often than other team's back of the rotation.

Lincecum and Cain have been everything we hoped for and hopefully they can continue to do this dominating run throughout the season. This is what I've been talking about for the playoffs. Once they get settled in as vets and can take more, we could move to 4 or even 3 man rotations in the playoffs, particularly the World Series, and take those series with our two main men shutting down the opposition.

Zito, I am cautiously optimistic, but after a little over a season of wide ups and downs, I can only hope for the best, but anticipate the worse. He is the tipping point for our rotation, if he can get back to where he was when he was with the A's just before joining the Giants, we could have a great rotation capable of sweeping teams regularly, but if he continues his down periods, pitching him in the rotation will be like Russian Roulette.

Still, very encouraging May for the rotation, now we just need the rest of the team to be get a little better and we might even be able to dream about .500 sometime this season but that is still a far way off. But the promise is there. After all, we haven't really fielded our full team at any point this season, someone who has been a good contributor has been on the DL at all times (or been horrible, like Bocock and Zito, and lately Walker).

Once we get back Correia and Valdez, we would have all our our key contributors in the fold (with Lewis replacing Roberts nicely so far) and perhaps can start thinking of moving back to .500. Until they return, we are most probably treading water at best, suffering bad losses along the way.

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