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).
What's Good and What's Not
From my observations, 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.
Madison Bumgarner- (82% DOM, 9% DIS; 9:1/11): 5, 3, 5, 5, 5, 4; 4, 5, 0, 5, 4
Matt Cain- (45% DOM, 9% DIS; 5:1/11): 5, 0, 4, 3, 5, 3; 3, 5, 3, 5, 3
Mike Kickham - (0% DOM, 100% DIS; 0:1/1): 0
Tim "The Kid" Lincecum - (60% DOM, 0% DIS; 6:1/11): 3, 4, 2, 5, 5; 3, 4, 5, 3, 5, 0
Ryan Vogelsong - (22% DOM, 33% DIS; 2:3/9): 3, 4, 5, 3, 2; 0, 0, 0, 3
Barry Zito - (36% DOM, 36% DIS; 4:4/11): 3, 4, 0, 4, 0; 1, 4, 1, 3, 3, 4
Giants season overall - 48% DOM, 20% DIS out of 27 games counted (26:11/54)
Giants Month of April - 56% DOM, 11% DIS out of 27 games counted (15:3/27)
Giants Month of May - 41% DOM, 30% DIS out of 27 games counted (11:8/27)
The Giants rotation had one of their worse months ever. I would have to check, but this could be the worse since they started winning consistently in 2009, but my memory hasn't been the best since I took a header off my concrete driveway. There are a number of worry areas that will need to improve on, going forward.
While 41% DOM is actually good for a pitcher, and thus means that the rotation as a whole pitched like a good pitcher, the Giants rotation has been a great starting unit for a long time now and thus May's results is disappointing and a sharp downturn in production. On top of that, not only were there a lot less DOM starts, there were a lot more DIS starts as well. It is not good when DIS is near DOM. Basically all their DOM starts they normally have turned into DIS starts, which makes the sharp reversal all the worse for the rotation's results.
The dominant pitcher again was Bumgarner (4 DOM). This time he is joined by Lincecum as the only starters with at least 3 DOM starts, which I know is surprising to most people because Lincecum's numbers is not good at all. That's because he's still being plagued by bad pitches in key situations, something that affected him greatly the first half of 2012, though he's better this season. Both Cain and Zito had 2 DOM.
Most disastrous, the Giants had a lot of disaster starts. As I've noted before, DIS starts are the ones that really give a pitcher a bad ERA. Vogelsong led the way with 3 DIS starts, Zito once more had 2 DIS, and Bumgarner, Lincecum, and Kickham in his first MLB start had 1 DIS. They had a total of 8 disaster starts in the month, so it is amazing that the Giants still managed a 14-13 month in May (I'll discuss later, but they can thank their offense).
It was a poor month as well by the pitching peripherals for most of the pitchers. Bumgarner had 2.54 K/BB, but wasn't the leader as he was last month, as Lincecum squeaked by with a 2.57, Cain 2.14, Zito 1.20, Vogelsong 1.75 (2.2 is good; 2.4 is very good; want at least 2.0).
Despite his good peripherals again, Lincecum had a 6.37 ERA in May. Madison's disaster start ruined his month's ERA; it was 5.17. Vogelsong, needless to say because of all his disaster starts, had a 9.00 ERA. Zito was OK with a 4.33 ERA, but was second best in the rotation because everyone else was floundering a bit. Cain led the way with a 3.48 ERA, showing his gutiness in games, despite his poor K/BB and DOM month.
May 2013 Comments
Clearly, the starting pitching has to improve if they are to compete this season. That said, it was just one month of really bad pitching and the Giants have had long bad stretches before with this group, they just need to get into a good streak of pitching. Luckily, the offense has been performing great, averaging 4.74 runs per game. In addition, Bochy has been doing his one-run magic, the Giants were 5-2 in one-run games in May, helping them to a 14-13 month in spite of the poor starting pitching. Without that, they would be 11-16.
However, they will have to do it without one of the stalwarts of the past two seasons, Vogie, as his broke his hand swinging at a pitch mid-month, right in the middle of the start where he was figuring out all his previous issues. He is expected to be out at least 6 weeks, and more probably 8 weeks, which would put him out to around the All-Star break. Obviously he won't be up for contention for that this year, unfortunately, as he deserved it the past two seasons.
So far, they had Kickham up to get his first MLB start out of the way, where he got lit eventually, but did really well his first two innings, striking out 3 of 6 batters, then Gaudin took a start in June. The Giants seem unsure what their plans are for replacing all of Vogelsong's missed starts. There is talk that they just might skip the 5th starter with so many off days this week. I would think that Kickham will get at least another start but Gaudin did so well that they are probably thinking of the scenario of Gaudin starting and Kickham or Heston being the long reliever.
Now, I had written a lot of stuff about the offense for here, but here we are near the end of the month and I've been too busy to write about it. Basically, lots of guys have been hitting. I will point out in particular, Brandon Belt who has been hitting well since mid-April, yes, up and down, but overall over .800 OPS, so please stop getting down on him, he's not the problem with the offense.
I do want to get this out on Cain. Cain has not been the same since his perfect game. He had been very dominant for years, elite level, but last season after that game, he only had a 45% DOM and so far this season, 47% DOM. He did have a 60% DOM during the playoffs in 5 starts, but still, not so good so far this season, pedestrian for him.
I don't know the answer for him. I have suggested 6-man rotations before, and with a horrendous streak from last July into early September, where there is 46 games and only two days off, maybe the Giants might consider it then, or at least insert a starter from AAA at least a couple of times there to give more rest.
I think he is the key to the rotation going forward. Zito has always been the enigma and now Lincecum has joined him. Vogelsong should be OK once healthy, but he's not the leader. Bumgarner will be the leader at some point, but right now, it is up to Cain to step it up and start pumping out the great 4-5 PQS starts regularly, like clockwork, like how he did it in 2012 before the perfect game, like he did it in seasons prior to that.
For now, the Giants just need to tread water in June, with all the road games, and they have been doing it so far, amazing considering that at times this month they were missing at least 3 of their top 4 hitters in the lineup. Soon it will be July and Mr. Buster usually busts out his whupass bat and start killing teams. I was a little leery of Bochy raising him to third in the lineup, but with the way he gets on base so much, that virtually guarantees that the 4th place hitter bats in the first inning with someone on base, and often the 5th place hitter.