Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Your 2014 Giants: 30th Rotational Turn

The Giants 30th Rotation PQS analysis.

ogc thoughts

30th Rotation Turn

This post is late but now I can say that it foretold the decline that was coming (31st turn has been ugly...).  Though the Giants won 4 of these 5 games, only one game was a DOM, and it was by Petit, his brilliant 84 pitch start, with 68 of them strikes (that's a whopping 81% strike rate; most pitchers are in the 60's), complete game 4-hitter (no walks, again!).

Speaking of Petit, in his last 10 appearances, which includes the start after this rotation turn FYI, he had 38.1 IP, but only 23 hits and 1 (!!!) walk vs. 47 strikeouts, only 3 homers as well.

Not going to win a lot of games, generally, without a lot of DOM starts.  But they did this turn, even winning a DIS start, when Bumgarner pitched his brains out and kept his team in the game enough that we did.  But the Giants went 4-1 with 1 DOM, 1 DIS, and 3 MID's.

And that is what has been happening in 12 of the last rotational turns (out of 30, so 40%!), lots of non-DOM starts.  8 of the 12 had 2 or less DOM starts among the 5 starts.  Only 2 with 4 or 5 DOM, only 2 with 3 DOM.  That means a lot of non-DOM starts.  DOM has roughly been around half the starts.

Who are the culprits?  Let's start with who has not (FYI, data here includes 31st turn so far).  Bumgarner has 10 DOM in 13 starts.  Peavy has 6 DOM in 9 starts.  Petit has 3 DOM in 5 starts.  Plus Cain had a DOM start in his last start of the season (natch!).

That leaves Hudson, Lincecum, Vogelsong.  Hudson has been the worst:  only 3 DOM in 12 starts, a mere 25% DOM rate.  Remember, good pitchers are in the 40's.  At least his DIS was kept low too, at 25% too, a very Hennessey-like PQS line, few good, few bad, lots of middling.  The Giants are 5-7 in those starts, where he had a 4.91 ERA, as his BABIP reverted to the mean with a .336 in these starts, vs. .277 in his first 17 starts, for an overall .300 BABIP.  Not what we were expecting when we signed him.  How great the impression on him has changed this season, and most of it was due to BABIP being too low and now too high.

Lincecum had 3 DOM in 8, or 37.5%, which is normally not bad, except that his other five starts were DIS starts.  He has not been the same since he saved the game by pitching in relief in-between starts.  Since that win, causation or not, Lincecum has been lost, whereas for the stretch before that relief appearance, he was as dominant has he has been in years.  The Giants were 3-5 in his starts in this stretch, 8.07 ERA (!!!) and .400 BABIP.

Lastly, Vogie had 5 DOM starts in 11 starts, a good 45% DOM, but for the Giants, less than half DOM is not good because the team has been built on pitching dominance.  He had only 1 DIS, so his line is actually not that bad, but the point is who has contributed a lot of non-DOM starts, and he is part of that equation.   Plus, the Giants were 5-6 in these starts, 4.08 ERA and .285 BABIP.

The Giants of the past six seasons have been built on and won with DOM starts.  That is the secret sauce of the playoffs, and if they can't do it now, they probably aren't doing it in the playoffs, and that would kill our chances of a third title.

The good news is that in the playoffs, we only need four starters and three of our starters have been doing well:  Bumgarner, Peavy, and Petit.   And Vogelsong looks likely to get the last starting spot based on who has done well in the second half of the season, he has done measurably better than Hudson.  If Hudson does not make the playoff rotation, that would be a huge disappointment given the expectations when he signed and especially with how well he did early on, though tainted by the low BABIP.

However, we are headed towards a wild card spot (though not assured), which probably means that Bumgarner will have his last start of the season skipped (also last game of Giants season) so that he can pitch in the wild card game.  That probably means a playoff rotation of Peavy, Petit, Bumgarner, Vogelsong, based on the playoff schedule.  

And that assumes that we don't need Bumgarner to pitch in the last game of the season in order to secure the home field advantage.  There is only a 2.5 game lead over the Pirates currently, and 4 games over Brewers, so the wild card looks pretty likely (with 12 games left and 4 game lead, would need a collapse to not get into the wild card spot; but remember June Swoon and the recent trend of poor PQS starts, NOTHING is written in stone, as I re-learned earlier this season), but getting to be the Wild Card home team is still up in the air, 2.5 games is still not much with 12 games to play, the Pirates and/or Brewers could get hot.

This is especially dicey right now given how up and mostly down the pitching rotation has been since the ASG.  We really need Hudson and Vogelsong to step things up in these final starts of the season.  Bumgarner and Peavy has been holding up the rotation, and Petit has saved it, with 3 DOM starts out of 4 games since taking over for Lincecum.  And had Lincecum continued to do well, as he was before his save relief appearance, Petit could have instead took over for Hudson, as humiliating as that would have been.

And to illustrate why I've been saying that something about that save relief appearance affected Lincecum, let's look at his PQS pre and post.  Pre-relief, he had 13 DOM starts in 20 starts, or 65% DOM, only 4 DIS or 20% DIS, and the Giants were 13-7.   And in the 8 starts before the save, he had 7 DOM or 88% DOM, and elite run of starts, with no DIS.  Post-relief, as noted above, 3 DOM (37.5% DOM) and 5 DIS (62.5% DIS), and the Giants went 3-5.

It was night and day difference, I mean, he had 3 5-PQS starts out of 4 games just before the relief appearance, he was as locked in as ever, as a starter, before that save relief appearance.  Had he continued to do that well just in those 8 post-relief starts, the Giants would have been 5-3 instead, and we would have been tied with LA for the division lead for much of the past couple of weeks instead of being 2 games back.  Then Petit could have replaced Hudson, instead, and won another game or two extra over what the Giants did behind Hudson.  In using Lincecum in that extra-inning game, Bochy won the battle, but could have lost the war, the war for the division title, by doing that.

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