Sunday, August 31, 2014

Your 2014 Giants: 27th and 28th Rotation Turn

The Giants 27th Rotation PQS analysis, and since it's late, 28th together.

ogc thoughts

Sorry for dropping the ball on the rotational turns since the ASB, but as we all know, it hasn't been pretty.  Plus, as anyone can see, the next turn has happened, but I think that the contrast would be good to bring out, so I'll do the 27th first then 28th.

27th Rotation Turn

Since the last one, just before the ASB (and skipping over Bumgarner's great last start of the first half), the Giants rotation has struggled to produce DOM starts.  After 8 rotational turns of 3 or 4 DOM starts out of 5, which is great for any pitcher, let alone the rotation, with only 2 of the last 7 rotational turns being 3 or 4, the rest were 2 DOM (or 40% which is good but not great).  That's been a major reason why the team has struggled to put up good win streaks in the second half.  Their record over that time period reflects that relatively poor performance, especially since the team is built to win by pitching mostly:  17-18.

Bumgarner has taken the ace role and made it his own now.  6 DOM starts out of 7 (unfortunately, also a DIS start too), plus that DOM start to end the first half that wasn't captured in any of these posts.  The Giants were only 5-3 with him pitching so well, as the offense has continued to sputter while Pagan (and Belt) was out.  Since Pagan has returned, and after a few games of adjustment, the team has averaged 5.3 runs per game in the last 15 games, with the team going 10-5 during that streak (which includes the 28th rotation turn, as I digress).

Cain, as we know, never made it out of the chute after the ASB, going on the DL and eventually under the knife (though I don't recall any notice about the surgery, has it been done yet?  Oh, I missed it while at a conference and reading, instead, about Robin Williams death;  sounds like it was a great success, a "jarful" of large chips plus bone spurs taken out since the Dr. was in there.  Given all this, wow, how did he pitch so well over such a long time with all these things floating in there, and how well will he pitch going forward with no impediments in his elbow to force him to adjust to them?  He could be even better, perhaps).

Hudson has been struggling since his last start of the first half, at least relative to how great he was doing before.  8 starts, 2 DOM, 2 DIS, that's pretty bad, like Hennessey bad.  However, the Giants were able to win with him struggling to be dominant because he's good at limiting the damage despite his problems, so the Giants were 4-4 during that stretch.

Lincecum, as I noted in many many comments at other sites, has not been the same since his emergency relief spot saving that long extra-inning game.   He has been totally out of whack since then.  He had a string of 5 straight DOM starts, 7 of 8 (including his no-hitter), and 10 of 13 when he was asked to relieve, and since then he has had 5 DIS starts and 1 DOM out of 6 starts.  Clearly, something happened in taking on his relief duties that night, and the team has been 2-4 over that 6 starts (after going 5-3 when he was going tood).  Might have been better to let Colvin pitch and see how that went before going to Lincecum, winning that one game (and we had a 4 run lead to start the inning), as that probably cost us at least 2 wins during that poor stretch of pitching that cost him his starting job for at least one start so far and it has been announced he will miss a second (though, from my research, Petit has pitched really well in Colorado the two years he has been with the Giants, while Lincecum has not in his career, so it just makes sense to skip Lincecum).

Vogelsong has been one of the steadying forces in the rotation during this rough patch.  He did start out with a DIS start and had that rain-related short outing, which I don't include in the analysis because it's not his fault that he couldn't reach the necessary 5 innings to avoid a DIS start, but he's been great, 3 DOM starts and only 1 DIS start out of 6 starts.  The Giants are 3-3 in those games (plus a loss in the rain delayed game that got finished the next day after a Giants protest was upheld due to the Chicago Cubs groundscrew's incompetence in rolling up tarp; long story...).

Lastly, Peavy was acquired to take over Cain's spot in the rotation (except for the start that Petit took over with a MID start that the Giants won).  He has been great, throwing 5 DOM starts in 6 starts during this stretch, with only 1 DIS start, helping to support the team while the rotation was sputtering.  Unfortunately, the offense was sputtering too, and the Giants only went 2-4 during his starts, despite his sterling 2.66 ERA with the Giants, as he appears to be reverting back to his prior goodness, rather than continuing his poor 2014 season with and in Boston, it appears that returning to the NL West was just the elixir his 33 YO body needed (or just leaving the AL East, while he had a nice home ERA in Boston, he just got beat like a drum away).

28th Rotation Turn

DOMINANCE.  Peavy started it with his last start for the 27th turn, which we lost, but it seems to have set the fuse going:
  • Bumgarner:  perfect game into 8th inning, one-hitter, no walks, 13 strikeouts, only 102 pitch complete game, with 80 strikes thrown, only 1 3 ball count in the game, and if I recall right 15 0-2 counts. LHP with 13 strikeouts and 0 walks and 0-1 hits in MLB history: Sandy Koufax, Randy Johnson, Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner.  Giants win 3-0.
  • Hudson:  8 IP, 4 hits, one walk, 8 strikeouts.  Had no-hitter for 4 IP.  First 5 PQS start in 9 starts.  First time reach 8 IP in 10 starts.  First time to 7 K's since first start of the season.  Reached 2,000 strikeouts in his career.  Giants win 4-2, with Bochy winning his 1,600th game as a manager 
  • Petit:  6 IP, 4 hits, one walk, 9 strikeouts.  Had perfect no-hitter retiring first eight batters, which would normally not be too big a deal, but he set a new record for consecutive batters retired at 46 straight, reclaiming the record for the Giants, whose Jim Barr had owned the record for 37 years, from 1972 (I remember him doing it) to 2009, bringing it home.  Giants win 4-1.  
  • Vogelsong:  7 IP, 4 hits, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts.  He has allowed 3 runs or less in 11 of his last 12 starts.
  • Peavy:  7.2 IP, 1 hit, 3 waks, 8 strikeouts.  No-hitter one out into 8th inning, longest stint of no-hit in his career.  He also had one into the 7th inning in his second start with the Giants, looks like pitching for SF, in SF, for Bochy and with Righertti seems to be good for him and reducing hits in some games.  Giants win 3-1, Peavy did not give up a run.
That is now 6 straight 5-PQS starts, Giants 5-0 in this rotation turn, everybody pitching dominated.  Of course, it helps that the offense has been on fire lately.  It started a few games after Pagan returned to the lineup, mostly, I think because of Posey's hitting, but Panik's hot hitting also did it too, and the offense has continued to produce enough with Panik in the 2-spot and Pence moved down to 5th.  Posey's home run hitting lately has helped too, the frequency reminds me of when he got white-hot as a hitter in 2010 and 2012, the homers start to come in bunches and it's suddenly MVPosey once again, to the rescue.

Also, his great start and record setting earned Petit another start for the Giants, getting to go against the Rockies in Colorado instead of Lincecum, who is still working on his mechanics, though Bochy said that they like what they are seeing right now and hope to see it in action soon, in relief.  It makes sense to go with Petit over Lincecum for another reason:  Petit has been great against the Rockies in Colorado as a Giant, while Lincecum has usually struggled, 5+ ERA.  I've been hoping for a 6-man rotation, to keep the pitcher's arms fresher, but I can see a situation where one starter gets a rest (like Lincecum), then he comes back in and gives, say, Hudson a rest, then he comes in and gives Vogelsong a rest, helping to keep the older guys fresher and giving them a nice rest.

On that note, Peavy is actually not that old, 33 YO, and I've been hoping that he resigns with the Giants, even though that would mean ending Vogelsong's time here (unless the Giants go radical and make Lincecum the closer, opening up a spot for Vogie).  Peavy certainly would want to return.  He is great buds with Bochy, as Bochy was his first manager in the majors.  He has pitched well with the team.  He's intensely fierce, reminds me of Vogelsong, only he has more talent to back it up.  And thus why go anywhere else, the Giants are set to compete for many more years.  But after his good pitching for us, I'm not sure we could afford him on the open market, he would need to be signed before the free agency period begins, maybe two years, $26M.  But that would take away money from signing up Sandoval unless the owners decide to stretch the budget again next season to include both of them.  Hopefully they can fit him in, he could help keep us competitive for a few more years beyond what Vogie could do for us.

Back to Petit, someone at Raising Cain speculated astutely that perhaps Lincecum might get to start/relieve the continuation of the suspended Rockies game that the Giants would play before their next Rockies series on Monday, and that makes great sense except for the fact that his poor performances there would suggest he would fail there.

Still, while I was initially skeptical, I now think that is probably what the Giants had in mind, barring the need to throw Lincecum into long relief in the Brewers series, they would like to have him "start" that game.  It is perfect:  if he does well, great; if not, they could easily remove him from the game with no or little shame, unlike getting pulled from a game that he started.  And then Kontos or Machi would take over and pitch a couple of innings.  That's classic Bochy:  don't want to promise something to the press, in case he needs Lincecum in the Brewers series as long relief, but then announce it after the Brewers series end.

Actually, just remembered that it's the first day of September, so with expanded rosters, the Giants could just throw in Kickham (assuming he gets the promotion to the majors).  Plus, I have to think Strickland will get the call as well, he's on the 40-man, they kept him on it in spite of his TJS last season, they actually mentioned him as a future closer for us, and he's been doing great down in Richmond after returning from rehab, striking out a storm, and with 3 guys who we can put on the 60-day DL right now, we could do the same thing California did in 2002 in order to have K-Rod pitching for them in the playoffs, he could take Gutierrez's spot, if we should make it into the playoffs.

But first things first, the Giants are still 2.5 games out, though they now are leading in the wild card race and at least in the one-game playoff if the season ended now.  Still, that's truly a crapshoot, trying to win a one game series, so the Giants need to keep the pedal to the metal and keep on winning.  They have averaged scoring 5.3 runs per game over their past dozen plus games now, as well as starting to perform well in the starting rotation, so everything is starting to click like it did in 2010 when the Giants ran off a streak of 20-something games of keeping the opposition at or under 3 runs.  Hopefully they can do it because we will need such a run to take the division title, that should be the goal.

Go Giants!


  1. A beat writer wrote about how Bochy should have let Petit pitch longer in his last start. I am OK with that decision.

    Sure, Petit hasn't pitched that much, and he deserves to go longer, but these are the dog days of the season, and if your relievers have not pitched much because the starters are going deep, you need to run the relievers out there to keep them sharp, or, as some of the relievers have shown, they get a little rusty. And it wasn't like he was going to get a complete game, nor had a no-hitter going on, or anything. Besides which, he might have pitched longer earlier in the season, but that was then and this is now, maybe he's not conditioned to go that long now that he's gone so long as a reliever. Also, maybe Bochy wants him to save some strength for his next start, he must have been thinking about that possibility during the start.

    Bochy isn't perfect but he's been pretty good, and if he wants to pull the starter and go to a reliever, I am not going to argue much about it, particularly at this part of the season, let Bochy do his magic, mistakes and all. We have done pretty well by it under his command.

  2. Well, Lincecum pitched 2 innings today, giving up 3 runs, 2 earned, 1 homer, so he's probably not pitching tomorrow. And that type of relief appearance don't earn him another start, that's for sure.

    Kontos pitched 0.2 innings and didn't look good doing it, giving up a homer and another hit, so he's probably not going tomorrow.

    Probably a minor leaguer will take the mound, probably Kickham, then Machi will relieve next.

    Then again, LIncecum can definitely pitch one day after another, so they might try him again tomorrow if they see something they can tweak and improve. It will certainly be interesting.

  3. Giants go radical and make Lincecum the closer

    Radical indeed, as that SSS against Detroit is now 2 years past, so have to respectively disagree as I cannot think of a single reason this could work.
    No command, no control, can't hold runners, wild pitches, walks, terrible WHIP.

    I recognize his K-rate, but fail to see how that positive outweighs all else.

    Always interested in your thoughts though....

    1. Actually, the idea of him being a closer came from a Fangraph article, should have linked to it and made that clear, but while I was writing that paragraph, I felt like I should acknowledge that "radical" possibility and just threw it in there without noting that this is not what I would like to see. Apologies for not making myself clearer.

      As I forget that some people don't read everything I put out here (or remember), so I'll mentioned it again here: I would like Lincecum to eventually take on an uber-reliever role much like he did in 2012's playoffs, when he's no longer useful to us as a starter. Long relief one day, set-up man another day, backup closer to the closer on other days.

      Closer won't work for Lincecum because even when he was the Cy Young caliber pitcher, he would have one month funks where he can't find the plate. You need a consistent guy pitching most of the season as the closer. Cain would make the better closer.

      But as Timmy showed from roughly mid-April to mid-July, he can still be a dominant pitcher, he had a 3.11 ERA from his 3rd start to his 20th, at which point he did his relief appearance in that extra-inning game and hasn't been the same since then, for whatever reasons. Being the uber-reliever frees him and Bochy from the embarrassment of having to remove him from the closer position, as he did with Romo this season, Bochy can use him when he feels that the situation is key enough to bring in Lincecum, and he won't feel the pressure to keep Tim in there if he don't have it that day, and can keep from using him until he's back to where we need him to be to dominate.

      People like to use SSS as a reason to denigrate ideas but forget that when it is an extreme performance, that adds significance because the odds of having such an outlier is unlikely even with SSS. 13 IP, 3 hits, 2 walks, 17 strikeouts in 5 relief appearances, that is about as extreme as you can get without retiring 46 batters in a row.

      And yes, it has been two years, but he hasn't exactly been used in that role during those two years either. And as I noted, when he's on, 3.11 ERA this season, he got it all the way down to 3.67 ERA as a starter before his mechanics got messed up, somehow, having to relieve on his off day. So I'm crediting the good he did up to them and put the blame on bad since then on Bochy and Righetti. It probably would have been better, in retrospect, to throw Colvin out there instead, with a 4 run lead, he would have to pitch pretty poorly to not get the three outs before giving up 3 runs, at which point you bring in Lincecum.

      Lincecum does have a lot of bad points, but they've always been there, and in a relief role like that, he can be used the way sabermetrics says teams should use their best relief pitcher, in key leveraged situations not necessary always in the 9th with a lead, particularly large lead.

      I wouldn't pay him $18M to do that, though willing to do that in 2015 to test out the concept, but if he'll take less for this future role, I think that can work for both parties. And another mid-4 ERA season is not making the demand for his services as a starter all that strong.

    2. But to be absolutely clear, I do want Lincecum back as starter next season, as I think he's fine in the back of rotation role, but whether he will or not will obviously in Bochy's hands.



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