Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Your 2013 Giants: Thoughts on Rotation Plans

Bochy released the Giants rotation plans.  To give Cain extra time, as well as Bumgarner with the All-Star game traveling, and Lincecum with his huge pitch count in his no-hitter, the Giants start out with Gaudin, then Cain, Bumgarner, Lincecum, and lastly Zito (of course), though technically there are two games that day, to make up for the rained out game in Cincinnati.

For that old fashion double header, Kickham will be called up to start one game, with Zito pitching the other start.  The first game will be considered a "home" game for the Reds since it is making up their rain out, and people were joking that since Zito has been hammered on the road, the Giants should start him in the second game, which is considered our original home game for that day.

ogc thoughts

First off, I expect the Giants to pitch Kickham in the first game, then send him down and pull up another pitcher at that point for relief.  Not sure who will be riding that Fresno-SF express, but bets are on Machi since I think his ten required days in AAA, after getting sent down, would be fulfilled by then.  Not sure who gets sent down to bring up Kickham, maybe Kontos, since he's been up and down this season, whereas Dunning has been doing well.

Second, people have been worried about Cain's health since he got bombed in his last two starts, and this move just fuels the fires.  The Giants and Cain have said that he is healthy and that there is nothing wrong.  However, Cain should have 9 days of rest between starts to July 19, the first game back, 10 days of rest for his scheduled start on July 20th.  And he didn't really throw that many pitches in that last start either, so it was not like it was a regular start, he got rest that day too.  There is caution about giving a pitcher more rest, and then there is CAUTION, and the difference between 9 and 10 days seems trivial - for a healthy pitcher. 

Third, I counted through all the starts and we have more home games than road games in the second half, 5 in total.  By positioning them in this way, Bumgarner, clearly our best pitcher now, gets the call for the most road games, at 7, everyone has 6.  It also gives both Gaudin and Cain 8 home starts, while Lincecum and Zito end up with 7, so that works out the way we want it too.  The only question then is whether Cain first or Gaudin first, and they went Gaudin to give Cain more rest.  I guess since the results are the same, why not give him more rest?

OK, here's where it makes sense to position Cain this way.  First he gets to pitch in first series against AZ.    Then he also faces Orioles, a tough team now, in the rubber game.  He also draws the first start of the Pirates series at home.  Then here we go, he gets to pitch in Colorado, then two starts later, AZ, following that up with first start of LAD series in LA, then first start of LAD series at home, plus the final game of the season.  That's 8 key/tough starts out of 14, and he faces almost every series against AZ and LAD in the second half.  He just misses the AZ series at the end of August.

And Bumgarner being next after him, he also gets AZ, Nats in DC, Pirates at home also, Rockies on road also, AZ at home also, LAD on road also, LAD at home also, plus he's available to start the first game of the playoffs since we make it that far.  That's 7 key/tough starts out of 14.

Gaudin gets 3 against AZ, plus CIN, BAL, BOS, COL twice, plus NYY, that's 9 starts against good teams, but he misses both of the LAD series.

Which means that Lincecum makes many of them.  Let's see:  Reds, Rays, Nats, BOS, Pirates, AZ, COL, LAD, NYY, LAD (yep, both LA series too, we throw Cain, Bumgarner, Lincecum against LAD twice in two weeks, plus a Zito start).  He has 10 starts against good teams.

And Zito gets the leftovers, however that works out.  Reds, Rays, O's, Nat's, BOS, Pirates, AZ, AZ, COL, LAD, NYY.  That's 11 starts against good teams, so hopefully he's ready to start another good run for us, like he did at the end of last season for us.

Oddly, our back end of the rotation faces more of the better teams, but less of our top NL West contenders, AZ and LAD.  And that is good, a loss to a good team outside of our division does not hurt as much as losing to any of our top competitors, who are the D-backs and Dodgers.   And it is not like we can hide Zito, he has to face teams too. 

The one thing that this means, though, is that the Giants can't throw in Kickham anytime in August to try to give the starters an extra day off, there are only one off days from July 26 to August 28, that's 33 straight days with only one off day within (and off days on July 25 and August 29).  Then the next day off is on September 16, 18 days later.  So that is a brutal run of games, that's why I thought maybe the Giants might stick in Kickham once or twice in that stretch to give the starters an extra day of rest.  But then that would screw up the order of Cain, Bum, Tim facing LAD twice near the end. 


  1. Is Surkamp on the 40 man roster? If so maybe he should be the guy who is called up for the double header. If his stuff is too much like Zito's maybe we need to bring up a righty.

    1. He's on the 40, but he is currently on the 60-day DL, so the moment he is activated, the Giants will need to cut another player off the 40 man.

      We just lost Heston with such a move, and I've been noting that future cuts will start to hurt. While Heston has not done well in AAA, he still did well up to AA and just might need more seasoning in AAA to contribute at the major league level.

      Well, he's not lost quite yet, there is a 10 day period for teams to claim him plus for the Giants to work out a trade. Many teams are like us, full up on their 40 man, unable to make a claim on him without losing someone interesting themselves, but some teams leave an opening on their 40 man to pick up an interesting player, though later might drop that one for another shiny pebble that falls their way. That is how the Giants got Sandy Rosario, a number of teams picked him up, then dropped him once they found someone more interesting.

      Surkamp would be an interesting choice. He's got a little more strikeout stuff than Zito right now, so that would be a contrast. But I don't think the Giants want to rush him back up to the majors so soon after getting off the DL for TJS. Plus, this is his first run in AAA, and he is walking too much and not striking out enough in the few starts he has had, it would be like throwing him to the wolves.

      Kickham, on the other hand, has been improving with every start, every outing he has had with us. And he has been dominant when he first comes in, striking out a lot, which I don't think Surkamp could do right now, since he can't even strike out AAA hitters much.

    2. Oh, regarding 40-man cuts, if they think that Hanchez needs a lot more time, they could just move him onto the 60-day DL list to open up a spot for Surkamp (or whoever).

      Else, someone would need to be cut. Adrianza has been mentioned as a possible by some people. Here's why i don't think so. First, he has shown good bat control when he was among his age peers, early in his pro career. Since then, he has mostly been among the youngest in his league, which puts him at a disadvantage, and thus it is harder to read how he is doing. He is clearly not elite, but given his early success, he could develop to the point of being a contributing starter, like Crawford. Second, he's only 23 YO for this season (in one month) and already considered to have MLB level defense, so he still has time to develop before we DFA him for not developing.

      I just don't see the Giants looking to drop him. Perhaps to this point, he's been promoted to AAA, maybe for the Giants to assess whether he's droppable or not, but not only has he hit well there, 825 OPS, but only 1 K in 16 AB, which is great, plus 4 walks. If he can continue the good bat control over the next year, he could be battling Scutaro for the starting 2B job in 2015 at the latest, could be the guy called up in 2014 if Scutaro is out for any reason, they might even make him one of the MI on the bench, both for bat and defense. Though I think they would prefer to keep him in the minors and getting more ABs to develop.

      Yeah, looking over the list of 40-man, non-25 man, prospects, everyone looks good right now, DFAing any of them would hurt, so I don't see the Giants making a move just to make one. Going through one by one, everyone is doing well, except for Runzler.

      OK, he might be next. He's 28 YO, so not young anymore, still can't control his pitches enough, walking way too many, and after a good April, he has been bad since. Still, you don't just throw away a strikeout guy with his stuff.

      Oops, maybe he's headed to DL himself, he was great in April, but since then his K/9 has dropped drastically, there is no reason for a pitcher's K/9 to drop from a truly dominant 9.6 K/9 in April to 7.8, 7.2, and now 4.8 in July. Of course, it's very small samples, due to him being a reliever, but something's happening to him, it seems.

      Either way, Runzler seems to be next, but after that, someone who is putting up pretty numbers will get cut, I would put Perez as next in line, then I wouldn't hazard a guess after that, everyone's numbers look good or still might develop to be good.

    3. Ooops, Hanchez just got placed in SJ for rehab, so it is unlikely that he'll be placed on the 60-Day DL unless he has another relapse, in which case, with so little minor league season to go, they might just put him on the 60-Day DL. However, they probably want 3 catchers for September, so if he at least can be healthy by September, the Giants probably are not going to 60-Day DL him, so that they can use him as a PH in September.

  2. So, no off days means we can't exactly skip Zito in the rotation if needed... If he still can't get a win on the road, I wouldn't be shocked to see Surkamp in a month or so.

    1. ugh, lost another blogger comment!

      Surkamp isn't doing that well right now in AAA, so I don't know about that. He had a good first start, OK second, but very bad third, with 6 walks.

      In any case, the Giants don't usually skip a start this late in the season. They do it in April with the 5th starter sometimes, but usually once they get past that month, they don't skip, they usually use the day off to give all their starters an extra day of rest. And by August, especially with few days off anyway, they have not skipped anyone in recent years, certainly not while Bochy has been manager.

      If anything, they should have implemented the 6-man rotation that I have been suggesting over the years, in order to give their starters more rest, but I understand wanting to keep the pedal to the metal and clinching as soon as possible with your best pitchers. For example, my idea would have probably cost us the division title in 2010 since we won on the last day of the season.

      A way to get some extra rest without giving a whole lot of starts to the 6th starter, you could instead insert the 6th starter so that when there is any 11 days straight of games, you can insert the 6th starter in there, to add one day of rest into that sequence. So the 6th starter would only steal starts when there are many games in a row.

      If anyone were to come up, I think Kickham has to be the choice. I like his poise in going out there in every appearance and competing very well until the hits come. Plus he has been nicely dominating as well, a good sign that bodes well.



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