Monday, June 01, 2015

2015 Giants: May PQS

This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the month of May 2015, PQS as defined in Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster annual book and they published the details here (unfortunately, they removed the article; this link gets you at least to the PQS definition, read down to middle for details). I wrote on this first in 2006 (wow, 10th year of this!) 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). Regular readers can skip to the next section.

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.

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 had 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). Read the link (unfortunately, they removed the article and thus the table is no longer available, sorry), as I noted, there's a nice chart there showing the combination of high DOM% and low DIS%, and there you can see particularly how a low DIS% is so important to a low ERA.

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).  But I think when the DOM% is high enough, you win more by choosing a high DOM% over a low DIS%, as there are more high quality games pitched overall.

I wholeheartedly recommend buying Baseball Forecaster and learning more about their methods of analyzing baseball. It has been greatly illuminating for me, and if you want to get a taste for it without paying full price, they used to sell their old editions of their annuals on their website for half price or less (plus shipping); but that was before he sold the company off, and I haven't checked recently.

Giants Starters' PQS for 2015 Season

Madison Bumgarner- (64% DOM, 9% DIS; 7:1/11):  4, 0, 3, 5, 5/5, 4, 2, 4, 3, 5/

Matt Cain- (0% DOM, 0% DIS; 0:0/0):  DL//

Chris Heston - (60% DOM, 20% DIS; 6:2/10):  5, 5, 5, 3/5, 2, 5, 0, 1, 5/

Tim Hudson - (10% DOM, 10% DIS; 1:1/10):  3, 3, 3, 2/2, 3, 2, 3, 0, 4/

Tim Lincecum - (50% DOM, 20% DIS; 5:2/10):  4, 3, 4, 2/4, 5, 0, 4, 2, 0/

Jake Peavy - (0% DOM, 100% DIS; 0:2/2):  0, 0//

Yusmeiro Petit - (0% DOM, 0% DIS; 0:0/1):  /3/

Ryan Vogelsong - (63% DOM, 38% DIS; 5:3/8):  0, 4, 0/4, 5, 1, 4, 5/

Giants Season overall - 46% DOM, 21% DIS out of 52 games counted (24:11/52)
Giants Month of April - 41% DOM, 23% DIS out of 22 games counted (9:5/22)
Giants Month of May - 50% DOM, 20% DIS out of 30 games counted (15:6/30)

The month of May for PQS was still worse than we have been used to from our starting pitchers for a long time now.   This continues a string of poor months since September last season.  At least there was some improvement over April.

Quite a number of DOM starts, with Vogelsong surprising (had 2 DIS out of 3 starts in April) by tying Bumgarner for the lead with 4 DOM, then Lincecum and Heston had 3 each.

Hudson only had one, but an encouraging one, as he had gone 9 starts without a DOM start.  However, it was not all bad, as he didn't have a DIS start until his 9th start.  He ended up with one of each, could be BABIP luck balancing out.  He's been near a DOM start in many starts already, just missing out by a hit or a clean inning, so maybe what the beat said about him going through spring training now might be true, or maybe it is his age catching up.  But he's been dragging the rotation stats down by not getting many (just the one) DOM starts, as everyone else are in the 50's and 60's, which is the standards set since 2009.

With Cain and Peavy progressing (though Cain is in an forward mode now, while Peavy is in a holding pattern as his back flared up again;  how did the Giants medical/training staff not know about this before signing him to two years?), a starter or two might need to be removed for them, and the candidates are Heston because he has an option still, Vogelsong because he was suppose to be a long reliever, and Hudson, because he hasn't been very dominating, though at least the team is 5-5 in his starts, same as Lincecum, who has pitched better so far, overall.

Though, it is possible they could go with a 6-man rotation for 2-4 weeks or even indefinitely, to give their arms more rest, since everyone appears to be pitching well for the most part (Giants set San Francisco record with 8 shutouts in May, only 3 other MLB teams have done this since two teams did it in 1969; last Giants team to do that was in 1916, and I think they had 9 shutouts, but they also had something like 31 home games too, to help).   I have noted for a while the benefits to the team in doing that in August, when there is only two days of rest in the month (and they could skip the 6th starter's spot when there is an off day in that rotation cycle, to keep everyone on schedule).  There is also the old saying in baseball that these things tend to resolve themselves, and they could do the 6-man until a pitcher needs to be removed for whatever reason.

Leaders in DIS starts were Heston (who didn't have any in April) and Lincecum (he didn't have any either in April) with 2 DIS starts.  Hudson and Vogelsong had one each.  Bumgarner did not have one in May.

After the poor start to the season, the Giants turned it on in late April and continued that into May.  The Giants are 27-13 since the end of the 8-game losing streak, and 21-9 during the month of May.   The starting pitching boosting DOM to 50% for the month helped greatly with that.  The Giants have been 21-4 in DOM starts this season.

Last last season, after a slow start, Bumgarner turned things around (he had 4 DOM in 6 starts, 67% DOM), but it was Vogelsong matching him with 4 DOM (80% DOM) that helped greatly too, the Giants were 9-2 in their starts, 5-0 in Vogelstrong starts.  But Madison helped greatly by beating Kershaw in every Bridegroom matchup he had, as well, as we were 4.5 games back to start the month, and ended the month only 0.5 games back, and briefly took first place before losing the last two games in the month.

Those losses prevented the Giants from having 22 wins in a month since the 1954 Giants went 24-4 in June.  Still, 21 wins in a month tied a San Francisco franchise high for a month in wins.  The last time the Giants won 21 games in a month was in August 1968.

Given that we won so many games, it is surprising that there were a number of poor performances in the month that held us back some.  But there was a lot of good.  Vogelsong led the way with 1.14 ERA, 6.0 K/9, and 2.33 K/BB.  Bumgarner had 2.61 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 4.38 K/BB.  Lincecum had another good month, 2.83 ERA, 7.5 K/9 (he got his up from the poor numbers he put up last month) and 1.81 K/BB (Giants were 4-2 in his starts, only losing in his DIS starts).

However, Heston and Hudson didn't do that well.  Heston had regression, with a 4.58 ERA, 7.4 K/9 and 3.22 K/BB.  Still, the Giants were 5-1 in his starts.  It helped that the Giants won his two DIS starts, usually they are almost always automatic losses.   And those DIS hurt his ERA, as one can see, his other stats were good, as he had three 5-PQS starts in the month, a good performance (50% DOM).  Hudson had a 5.11 ERA, showing the signs of his inability to regularly have a DOM start (only one all season long) and the only reason his ERA wasn't worse was because he had a lot of, what I call, MID starts (only one DIS start all season long too).  And with a 4.1 K/9, he's not going to have a lot of DOM starts, but he's still maintaining a 2.13 K/BB, which is marginally good.  The Giants were only 3-3 in his starts.

May 2015 Comments

And that is a continuing big worry for me, that Hudson has not been dominating and thus only has one DOM start so far.  Even Zito threw a DOM start pretty regularly, above 40%, which is the minimum level I see for a good starting pitcher.  So is it the beginning of the end for him, or just a slow start due to his abbreviated spring training due to his need for ankle spur surgery just before spring training started.  Still yet to be seen.  Still, shows the power of MID starts, the team was 2-2 in his April starts, 3-3 in his May starts.

Peavy and Cain, Pray for No Pain

Peavy and Cain have still been progressing in their injury recovery.  Peavy was ahead, but in his second rehab start, had issues with his back again.  This harkens to the report that his recovery was not one of getting to 100% health but one of getting to being able to start a game every 5 games.   Baggarly reported that he’s battling back from an inflamed SI joint and other structural issues that are causing discomfort in his back and hip.  He can stay on his rehab assignment until June 20th, though if he is re-injured, they can reset the clock on that.

Krukow noted in his morning show that Peavy seems able to start healthy, throwing 1, 2, 3 innings, but then starts losing it physically.  So if this does not change any time soon, it looks like he might be changing roles with Vogelsong, at least in this season, with him taking over the long reliever role that Vogelsong was going to have.  But first, he needs to get healthy enough to get back on the roster, and this raises the question I've been bringing up in recent years about the training/medical staff, why they didn't see this physical issue with signed free agents like Peavy, and why did we re-signed these players.

Cain is now ahead, because he's going to get to pitch in a rehab game soon, whereas Peavy is now on indefinite hold while they wait for his back to settle down, the Giants don't have a need for him with Vogelsong doing so well, so he's getting a long, basically second spring training.  Same with Cain, too, I believe, but he's at least still moving forward, as he has not had any physical setbacks.  His next assignment would be to pitch three innings against minor leaguers in extended spring at the club’s complex in Arizona, if he recovered OK from his Saturday 30-pitch throwing session. From there, Cain could be cleared to start a minor league rehab assignment.

6-man Rotation

While Heston has done a great job in taking Cain's rotation spot, Cain is a leader on the team, and players and coaches were excited to see Cain take another step towards returning to the majors by throwing 30 pitches in a simulated game last Saturday.  I think that if and when Cain returns, the Giants will either send down Heston to AAA or perhaps finally go with the 6-man rotation idea that I've been suggesting for a number of seasons now.

It has been acknowledged, basically every championship, that having a shortened off-season leaves everyone less physically prepared for the next season, making repeating hard.  Yet, despite that knowledge, when the team heads into the dog days of August, where the schedule only has two days of rest for the month - every year - the Giants (and other teams) still don't at least consider a 6-man rotation, at minimum to insert two extra days of rest in there by starting the 6th man in there to enable the rest of the rotation to pitch every 6th day.

The timing will be pretty good.  Cain at best might return just before the All-Star Break, but more likely it will happen after the break.  There is 6 games then a break, they could start the 6-man then, then insert Heston into the first week of August and third, in order to keep the rotation on regular or longer rest.

Dead Man Walking, Update

In addition, if Heston is not going down when Cain returns, then someone else will have to.  At that point, one of Machi and Kontos will have to be DFAed.  The only reason both have been on the 25-man has been because of the injuries allowing the Giants first to carry 13 pitchers, then with two SP out, only carry 5 starters.  So one of them has been among the walking dead since the season started.  And right now Machi would be that guy, Kontos has done too well not to be kept.

Peavy or 6-man

However, the only catch is the 25-man roster.  The Giants can fit a 6-man rotation but not if Peavy is on the roster as a long reliever, alongside Petit.  A 6-man rotation means a 6-man bullpen, which means Casilla, Romo, Affeldt, Lopez, Kontos, and Petit, at this moment.

If Peavy is healthy and needs to be added to the roster, Heston will probably have to go down.  His poorer performance in May (4.58 ERA) helps to justify the move, but Chris has certainly done enough, though, to have a strong hold on the rotation spot that will open up in 2016 since Hudson has all but announced his retirement after this season.  In this case, the Giants could go with Petit as the 6-man starter, since in this scenario, we would have Peavy around as the long reliever.

PQS 10 Start Rotation Turns

Last year, I started analyzing PQS by rotation turns, instead of just monthly, to get to finer and different details regarding how the SP were doing.  Since the 10 starts almost coincided with the month of May, I'm combining them together.

After 10 rotation turns (11 for Bumgarner), the starting rotation has been pretty strong, with the one really weak link.  Bumgarner leads with 64% DOM/9% DIS, followed by Vogie with 63% DOM/38% DIS.  Heston has been holding his own with 60% DOM/20% DIS, and Lincecum as well with 50% DOM/20% DIS.

That has led to good records for a number of starters in terms of the Giants winning when they start.  Heston has the lead with 7-3, with Bumgarner at 7-4 (if we had won against Atlanta yesterday, Bumgarner would have the lead).  With Vogelsong on the mound, the Giants were 6-2.  Unfortunately for Lincecum, while he's been doing better sabermetrically and ERA, the team has only been 5-5 in his starts.  It didn't help that the Giants lost in one of his DOM starts, else he would be at 6-4, just one win behind Madison.  But luckily for Hudson, while he has not dominated enough, he has been able to keep things steady enough for the team to be 5-5 in his starts too.

Demonstrating the power of DOM starts, the Giants were 20-3 in DOM starts and the pitchers had a 1.11 ERA in those starts.  In MID starts, the team is only 7-10 (about where they were last season) with a 4.94 ERA.  And in DIS starts, the team is 3-8 with a 10.96 ERA.

And that shows that the mix matters, if you throw a DOM but the other pitcher has a better DOM, that hurts your chances to win, while if both have DIS starts, then, well, somebody has to win.  Where the Giants PQS is better than the opponents, the Giants were 17-5, 1.92 ERA, where tied, they were 6-4, 4.32 ERA, but where they lost, and there were 4 DOM starts in this data set, they were 7-12, 6.24 ERA.

With Hudson almost never having a DOM start, there were no rotation turns where they had 4 DOM starts.  They attained 3 DOM starts in five rotation turns, 2 DOM starts in three rotation turns, and 1 DOM start in two rotation turns.  Still, despite that, they are at 46% DOM as a staff, which is still good, just not great like we've been getting from and expecting, from 2009 to 2014.

Bullpen Impact Due to Less DOM Starts

That lack of quality in starts took a toll on the bullpen, along with 30 games in 31 days of May.   No starting pitcher averaged over 6.5 IP per start.  Bumgarner and Vogelsong were at 6.33 IP average, Hudson 6.17, Heston 5.89, and Lincecum, he's usually petered out fast due to his wildness and extra pitches, 5.83.  In spite of all this, the Giants’ had a streak of 39 consecutive at home IP without allowing a run – matching the all-time franchise record set by the 1948 club.

The bullpen was bifurcated too, between really good and really bad.  Strickland came up on emergency, due to an unscheduled double-header, which allowed the teams to carry a 26th man that day, but stayed because there was a patch of games in tough offensive parks (Colorado and Milwaukee) with no days off, which resulted in the surprising DFA of Casey McGehee the next day.

And he might stay longer.  So far, he has pitched in 5 games, 7.1 IP with 9.8 K/9 and 8 K's vs. 0 BB, for a sterling 0.00 ERA.  So when the time comes to add back on a position player (probably McGehee once he finds his bat), it might be Machi who goes first.  Then when Cain or Peavy is ready to return, then Strickland will finally go down.  The way he's pitching, he's got a bullpen spot next season, and with Affeldt and Casilla being free agents, Strickland might replace one of them.

The rest of the bullpen had a busy May.  There were a number of great performances.  Lopez had a 1.23 ERA in 12 appearances, 7.1 IP, 9.8 K/9 and 2.67 K/BB.  Kontos had a 2.31 ERA in 14 appearances, 11.2 IP, 6.9 K/9, 4.50 K/BB.  Petit had an overall 2.50 ERA, 6 relief appearances and 1 start, 12.2 IP, 4.5 K/9, 4.50 K/BB (as reliever, 0.50 ERA, 12 IP, 6.8 K/9, 8.00 K/BB), Casilla 2.84 ERA in 14 appearances, 12.2 IP, 9.9 K/9, 2.33 K/BB.

However, three reliever had bad ERAs, though one was just unlucky.  Romo was that guy, 4.50 ERA in 15 appearances and 10 IP, but 12.6 K/9 and 7.00 K/BB, both excellent.  Machi's hold on a roster spot sagged further with a 8.56 ERA in May, in 12 appearances, 13.2 IP, 7.2 K/9 and a horrid 1.38 K/BB.  Surprisingly, Affeldt continued to struggle this month, compiling a 8.64 ERA in 14 appearances, 8.1 IP, horrid 3.2 K/9 and 0.60 K/BB.   At 37 next season, Affeldt will need to turn things around, and quick, if he hopes to get a new and good contract this off-season.  It's like he's not using his knee brace or something.

Offense Carried the Month

Despite ups and downs, the pitching did really well overall in May, posting a 3.52 ERA and 3.60 runs allowed per game, with a nice 2.65 K/BB ratio, which is really good, as it would allow a low scoring team to win 90 games.  But when it is combined with a really kicking offense, a team has a great month, like the Giants did by going 21-9 in the month.

The Giants hit .291/.348/.439/.787 during the month of May, averaging 4.93 runs per game.  Credit has been given to Pence but he has actually hit poorly since rejoining the team, with a batting line of .254/.299/.429/.727, 2 HR in 63 AB (32 AB/HR).  That does not drive a 4.93 runs scored offense.

It has been Belt, Posey, and Crawford who have been leading the way offensively, with Pence's return, perhaps, putting it on turbo-charge (though it helped that he returned in the middle of a stretch in big hitters parks).

Belt has been one of the offensive leaders since the end of the 8-game losing streak and he continued to be one in May, hitting .339/.405/.671/1.075, with 7 HR in 109 AB (most in the second half of May, as he was homerless for a long while).  A .417 BABIP strongly suggests regression at some point, but he has sustained a .351 BABIP over a full season before, and a .400 BABIP over two months at the end of 2013, so he might not regress by too much.

Crawford has also been an offensive leader along with Belt since the 8-game losing streak and he continued to be one in May, hitting .340/.386/.528/.914, with 3 HR in 106 AB.   His sky high .402 BABIP suggests strong regression at some point, but he only had a .255 BABIP in April and still hit .235/.350/.471/.821, which would still be great to have from the SS position.  And if you are wondering how I could say he's been a leader since April, in the games in April after the losing streak, Crawford hit .345/.472/.690/1.162 with .400 BABIP over 10 games, which means he has a sustained .400 BABIP over roughly the last 6 weeks.  Nobody sustains .400 BABIP over a season, but that don't diminishes Brandon's contributions over that period, he has been a leader.

Posey actually out hit Crawford in May, though slightly, hitting .323/.398/.521/.919, with 5 HR in 96 AB, only .310 BABIP (.324 career BABIP, .333 over prior 3 seasons, so he could get better!) and great 12 walks to only 7 K's.   But I wanted to give credit to Belt and Crawford for being hot since the winning began.  But Posey wasn't too far behind, after a poor 6 game stretch, since April 25th, Posey has hit .330/.400/.536/.936 and .323 BABIP (i.e. sustainable BABIP).   The three of them have really led the way.

And Panik was not that far off from the three.  He was merely OK to finish up April, while the other guys were hot.  But basically from the start of May, he has been consistently hot, with only 3 games with no hits, and only one game with no hits or walks.  Joe hit .314/.405/.505/.910 in the month of May, with 4 homers to boot, good for third on the team, behind Belt's 7 and Posey's 5, in 105 AB.  He also had 14 BB vs. only 15 K's for the month too.   His .337 BABIP may or may not be sustainable.  After his poor start last season, once he got hot, he got super hit, with a .384 BABIP over the last two months of 2014.   He had a .427 BABIP in August and .344 BABIP in September, then a .318 BABIP in April, to go with the .337 BABIP in May, so he might not regress much.

We're Giants Together

So the team had four hitters white-smoking hot for 4-6 weeks, so no wonder the team has averaged 4.55 runs scored since the winning began.   But there were a lot of other good performances as well.  Blanco hit .333/.383/.519/.902 in significant playing time, 60 PA.  Aoki continued to hit well, especially exploding in Milwaukee (love his Wisconsin cheese?), hitting .314/.374/.419/.793, with an incredible 9 walks vs. only 3 K's, plus 2 homers (he only had one all last season).  Duffy took over 3B with steady good hitting, .313/.353/.425/.778, with 2 HR in 80 AB, but .383 BABIP and 18 K's vs. only 3 walks, so this is not sustainable unless he can start not striking out so much.

The others did not hit so well.  Pence in his return, early goodness, but only .254/.299/.429/.727, with 2 HR in 63 AB, in May.  Pagan cooled off a lot, hitting .275/292/.333/.626, and getting dropped to 7th in the lineup.  Of course, we all know about McGehee, he only hit .235/.291/.294/.585, with 1 HR in 51 AB, .225 BABIP and 10 K's, both bad for him.  Susac only hit .179/.324/.214/.538 with 10 K's in 28 AB.  Maxwell cooled off a lot, .226/.269/.258/.527 with 17 K's in 62 AB, and no homers.  And Arias was virtually useless, hitting .063/.063/.063/.125 in 16 AB.   McGehee might return simply to replace Arias, this is his second straight season of uselessness, and McGehee has played 1B, 2B, as well as 3B, in his career.

Still, with a 4.93 RS during May, obviously, these other hitters' poor performances did not get in the way of the offense all that much.  And with a 3.60 RA, they won a lot of games, going 21-9 (Pythag says 19 wins, but going 4-2 in one run games helped get us to 21 wins).  Together, they were Giants in May, lead mostly by the offense, but the pitching contributed significantly as well, both starters and particularly the bullpen, eating up so many innings as they did, they really needed Strickland in there to suck up innings.  Hopefully they can keep this up into June, but start the month off with halted momentum, losing two straight to the Braves to end the month, especially with the closer blowing a win far away, giving up 4 runs, and not in a pretty way.

Pitching, Pitching, Pitching 

The lineup is looking pretty good, with five farm products starting in the infield, and Susac on the bench.  Our pitching, however, is getting older and less productive, and need an injection of youth for the next generation.  Heston and Strickland are the first to have landed, and look likely to stick at some point.

There appears to be a mass ready to come up and be the next generation bullpen.  As noted, Strickland leads the pack, and he's on the older side, but only 26 YO this season.  He has a 1.66 ERA and 10.4 K/9 and 8.33 K/BB.  Other relievers doing well and looking good include RHP Broadway (AAA, 28 YO) with 1.16 ERA, 14.3 K/9 and 6.17 K/BB, LHP Osich (AA, 26 YO) with 1.64 ERA, 7.8 K/9 and 3.17 K/BB, LHP Okert (AAA, 23 YO) with 3.57 ERA, 11.1 K/9 and 2.80 K/BB, Slania (A+, 23 YO) with 1.90 ERA, 12.5 K/9, and 5.50 K/BB, Hall (AAA, 27 YO) with 3.86 ERA, 7.0 K/9, 2.22 K/BB.   In addition, Derek Law, who did so well in 2013 and looked prime to join the bullpen in 2014 spring training before he needed TJS, should be back soon from his rehab, and Ray Black, who did so well last season, but has been shut down most of this season for a strained lat muscle injury (once again), is still a possibility as well.  In three appearances since returning a couple of weeks ago, he has pitched in 3 games, 3 IP, 1 hit and 5 strikeouts, and he's been hitting triple digits again on the radar guns.

Not as many interesting starters, nor as many who look ready to move up to the majors soonish, but there are a few.  Beede (A+, 22 YO) leads the way, he has a 2.24 ERA, though only 6.1 K/9 but great 4.11 K/BB.  Mela (A+, 21 YO) has 3.05 ERA, 8.5 K/9 and good 3.27 K/BB.  Both look like they will eventually be major league starters.  Coonrod (A, 22 YO) has a 3.24 ERA, 9.7 K/9 and great 4.09 ERA, but has a long way still to reach majors, this is a good start, but there is so much more obstacles to get over.

We are going to need 2-3 pitchers to do well and accompany Bumgarner into this next generation, and Heston looks like he can at least help with the transition if not be part of it.   Tyler Beede looks like another.  I've been hoping that Cain and/or Lincecum could be another.  Then the team can supplement with a free agent or traded pitcher that they like, much like how they got Hudson, and Peavy.

Beede Beede

As I noted in my prospect post, I expect Beede to show enough progress this season to warrant a call-up at some point.   Barr noted when he was drafted that the Giants expect him to move fast.  And while his numbers in his early starts were so-so, that appears to be related to him getting used to a different repertoire of pitches to use, and his more recent starts have been better.

And in any case, even while figuring things out, his game score was still good, he threw quality starts in spite of his adjustments and learning new pitches in April.  He stumbled some in his first three starts in May.  But in his last two, he did well, particularly in his last start, which could be a breakthrough in learning (or just luck), we will have to wait and see.

In his last start, he went 7.0 IP, but still only 86 pitches, 72 game score, which is very good, giving up only 4 hits and 1 walk, while striking out 11.  And according to Joe Rizzo, Beede did not change his repertoire much, which means that he has not been freed to use his full set of pitches yet, and so maybe he took a step up with his training in this start.  This start reminded me of the dominance that Lincecum had in SJ in his brief stay in the minors.  If Beede is still not using his full complement of pitches, this start speaks well of when the Giants take his training wheels off.  I would say that he still appears to be on track for being able to make the majors at some point of this season.  Even if they don't need him to start, they could use him in relief in September, or perhaps have him start one start to rest someone or some other strategic move.

13 comments:

  1. Long but very insightful post! I really love the effort you put into your works!

    In my opinion, I think Cricky should be called up first before Beede if we ever need a reliever by August or September because even though Beede's performances impresses me even though there's that lack of strikeout concerns from others including me, Cricky is better suited to the bullpen due to his ability to miss bats with his 2 plus pitches and is better suited as our next great closer even though we walks a ton and often makes himself be placed in stressful situations due to his high pitch totals and his ability to allow only a few runs speaks volumes of his bullpen potential in terms of stranding runs and escaping high-leverage situations IMO.

    There are a lot of failed starters who are now the best relievers in the game (Wade Davis, Dellin Betances, and Andrew Miller to name a few) and I think Crick has a lot of potential on our bullpen for the future due to our bullpen guys getting older by the minute and the changing of the guard is happening right now. I saw Wade Davis as a starter and as a reliever and his velocity on his FB improved my 3-4 MPH as a reliever and that could happen to Crick. We might see him throw 96-99 MPH in one inning and pair that with his plus slider. Maybe he's just not that fit as a starter and I know most people think he still needs more time to develop some pitchability but I am on the pessimistic side in terms of Crick. Him, Strickland, Okert, and others could form another formidable bullpen for us in the next 5 years or so and pair that with MadBum and hopefully Beede anchoring our rotation of the future.

    I hope my thoughts are not running in circles and making my ideas lost because that tend to happen to me sometimes. Great work once again, Mr. ogc!

    Wrenzie

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    1. Ooops, sorry, my comment to you below, I swear I clicked on this reply, but then ended up as a comment. Maybe I didn't click right...

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  2. Thanks Wrenzie for your comments, and thanks for using lower-case "ogc", it is appreciated, though minor.

    From what I've read, some think that Crick is headed for a reliever role at some point, but I still have hopes for him as a starter. And I agree, a lot of failed starters (or converted starters, like Eckersley) become great relievers, I would give props to our own Affeldt for making the difficult adjustment from starting to relieving. For an older generation of fan, Todd Worrell noted that he didn't start succeeding as a reliever until he gave up any hopes of ever becoming a starting pitcher.

    In any case, the reason I highlighted Beede is because he looks capable of contributing this September in some role, whether relief or starting, much like Bumgarner in September 2009. Crick is too wild right now to do much of anything in the majors (his 6.6 BB/9 would MLE to a horrendous walk per inning rate, probably), whether reliever or starter. I can see him being a Brian Wilson type of torture closer, but if the Giants can continue to develop him (he has shown a lot of glimpses of his potential, look at his individual starts, he has a lot of games where he walks few while striking out a ton), he can be as good as Beede is looking right now, and that would be a huge add to the rotation if he can reach that peak.

    But it is nice to have a minimum floor of good set-up man/closer for Crick, as that is also valuable, but not as valuable if he can be a dominant starter in the majors.

    And I think fans need to be more patient with Crick. Not only does he have more flaws, given that he was drafted in the supplemental first round, but he only started pitching as a senior, and still picking up things regarding pitching. And he's still only 22 YO and despite giving up all those walks, able to keep his ERA down low, that is a skill too, getting out of your own RISP jams. Generally, only the top/best prospects make AA by age 22 and do well, and other than his wildness, he has done well.

    One thing one has to remember is that while walks are bad, if he can strike out a lot of batters, that also means less hits given up, and generally less XBH, I think. And more K's mean less runner advancing to scoring position or plain scoring. And as he advances each level, he is catching up in terms of experience and development, so he could be ready for the majors by 2017, when he's still only 24 YO, which would still be good, and maybe a starting position by 25 YO.

    Or, they could, as you note, bring him up as a reliever, much like they did with Jonathan Sanchez, so that they can continue to teach him in the majors, then convert him back to a starter once they put the finishing touches on him.

    And we have a lot of prospect possibilities in the bullpen, I listed many above, so we can take longer with Crick if necessary to see if he can develop, and then, at worse, bring him into a bullpen role to shut down guys. Win/win, either way.

    Your comment is fine, thanks again.

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  3. Exciting news, Beede has been promoted to AA.

    A report noted that they were not planning on a promotion so soon, but with a number of starters opting out of AAA, they shifted Stratton and another guy to AAA, which opened up spots in AA for Beede. So the promotion was not in reaction to just this start, but his overall good performance so far.

    This should be a good test of where he is developmentally. Only the best prospects come into AA at 22 and do well, so his results could catapult him into the majors this season if the need is there, perhaps much like how Strickland jumped into the post season rosters last season.

    And who knows, this is Hestons third DIS start in like 4-5 starts, not good, the others could be excused since hitters parks but this is ATT. I think this puts him below Hudson in terms of possible replacement when Cain or Peavy returns. And if Beede does really well, he could be pushed to majors, like Giants did with Dirty before.

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    1. I don't know if this is true and/or outdated but I have read that the Eastern League is the most pitcher friendly in the AA so if Beede's numbers will be similar like what he tallied in the Cal League, I feel he's a September call-up at most. I hope Crick follow Beede's footsteps soon. We really need that youth on the rotation and the bullpen.

      Wrenzie

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    2. Yes, that is the truism that has lived for many years, and repeated at many sites. In fact, my arguing that, if anything, it is a hitter's league, got my comments deleted at one site and I ended up expanding on that here on my blog. Here is the post that brouhaha created:

      http://obsessivegiantscompulsive.blogspot.com/2014/08/truisms-is-eastern-league-pitchers.html

      Beede's numbers should be better, because, as my article noted, SJ is in a clear hitter's league, whereas Richmond, not so clear either way, but if anything, is a hitter's league.

      Yeah, with the 40-man roster crunch, bringing up Beede would mean DFAing someone, so he's probably not coming up before September. However, if a starting pitcher should go down, that could result in a 60-day DL stint, which then could be used to bring Beede onto the 40-man and into the majors, if the Giants need him and think he is the guy for the job.

      With Beede doing so well so far, I think that puts less pressure on Crick to follow so quickly. Perhaps if Beede could be ready by 2016-17, then Crick could be ready 2017-18, that would be great sequencing.

      Yes, we really need that youth, definitely in the bullpen, and depending on how Cain and Lincecum does this season, at some point in the rotation. If Beede can break out this quickly for us, it would solve a lot of problems in the starting rotation regarding age and performance, especially with Peavy's iffy health prognosis.

      I was particularly bothered that Peavy is suddenly so disabled that the question is not of getting him healthy, but that of dealing with the pain enough to pitch effectively. Why didn't the training and medical staff see that issue before signing Peavy up?

      Right now, it seems like surgery is not even on the table, that he's permanently bothered by this SI joint. If that is so, he probably needs to be a reliever, at most, on this team. But we have so many interesting relievers basically ready to come up and get their chance, Strickland, Okert, Hall, Broadway, Osich, eventually Law and Black, and Slania too. He could be long relief, but Petit has been pretty good there, a competitive differentiator for us. The Giants don't have enough space to carry all these relievers, so the CoreFour might be breaking up this off-season, to give the new guys spots, plus with Peavy's issues. Either that or Peavy will be piggy-backed with Petit in starts, where Peavy goes as long as his back allows, then Petit takes over. But that is tough to do with a 25-man roster.

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    3. I have read your piece about the EL and it agree with everything that you wrote. I actually checked an MiLB article about the different leagues and it also tells the same story. The EL is neutral-ish and close to being a hitter's league. Upon checking at the quality of top prospects that the EL has to offer this season (Aaron Judge, Josh Bell, Trevor Story, Brandon Nimmo, Roman Quinn are some of the hitters that Beede could face) and the overall triple slash numbers (avg/obp/slg), it's a good league to test Beede and his growth as a pitcher.

      I think Peavy's issues is due to the immense recoil with his east-west arm motion. The effect is that all of his back muscles located in his right side of the body shoulders up all of that energy that he creates every pitch. If I'm not mistaken when he's still pitching for the White Sox, his back muscle tore up that required possible career-ending surgery in which he overcame which is great props to the guy. Great comeback but I think his body is now too old to handle the stresses that he placed on his body especially on his repaired back muscles. I don't know if we can trade Peavy due to his lingering issues and his age.

      Thanks for the replies, Mr. ogc!

      Wrenzie

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  4. Things I think:

    First, SI Joint issues are tough to diagnose because they tend to mimic other, more common back problems. In fact, they usually inject a dye (which is difficult to get in the exact right spot) and have to X-Ray it. So I can't really blame the medical staff for 'missing' the issue. Heck, I doubt Peavy even knew he had the issue as it can go from 'nearly failure' to 'failure' with no real warnings.

    Next, I have little confidence in much of our bullpen at this point. Machi, Afeldt and Casilla are all playing badly. Machi and Afeldt are obvious. Casilla isn't quite as obvious.

    However, I think it could be summed up as Casilla is lucky he plays with such strong defense behind him. His WHIP is pretty bad for a closer and he ranks near the bottom of all closers in BA, WHIP and save percentage as well as tied for first in blown saves. Hardly what you want in a closer.


    Last, the Beede story (from what I've gathered) is really interesting. I have read he was being limited in his pitch selection at SJ until his final start there. And when they took the limits off, he put up some fantastic numbers. And, with the constant threat of Timmy turning into a mirage, Vogelsong falling apart, Huddy falling off the cliff and Peavy & Cain as constant injury/surgery concerns we could use a fresh, quality arm up here if he could handle it. And even if it's too soon for this year, we'll need him next year...

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    1. Thank you for correcting me regarding Peavy's back problems.

      Machi and Affeldt I am currently worried about. Machi has not been that good since last season, including the playoffs. He probably wouldn't be around, anyway, if it hasn't been the injuries, and if you'll notice, he has been eating a lot of his innings when we are behind by a lot (at least that is what it seems to me).

      Casilla is not ideal - that is why he has bounced in and out and into the role with us - but I would caution on relying solely on WHIP problems when his BABIP is so high, given the SSS situation that is so strong with relievers. He has a .323 BABIP, that is not only high for the general .300 mean that most pitchers regress to, but is much higher than his career .277 BABIP that he had before this season. Due to that extreme SSS situation, unless you are seeing him physically having problems, I would take any deviance from his career norms, particularly his SF GIants career norms, as he developed a new pitch that made him good with us, while not so good with the A's when they released him.

      He's also suffering some bad luck with HR/9 as well.

      As previous seasons have shown after Wilson left the role, closer upheaval and unsteadiness don't cost us the season. I would be more worried if our closer of the future, Strickland, weren't up here now and doing well in his audition for the closer role. I'm very encouraged that he learned from last season that he can't rely on his plus velocity to get hitters out, and he reportedly started using other pitchers more.

      The beauty of the Giants closer situation under Bochy since Wilson left is that while there is a closer in name, the situation generally is a closer by committee situation, with Romo, Affeldt, and Lopez ready (if available) to come in and take over for Casilla. THe unfortunate BA that Casilla had the other day probably don't happen if Romo wasn't sick and unable to pitch, else Lopez would have come in earlier to face the LHH who hit the triple.

      So while he's suffering some bad luck, the Giants apparently think that he's still pitching effectively enough, but as Bochy showed last season, he won't hesitate to switch the role when he deems necessary.

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    2. About Beede, I guess you missed the link I embedded regarding Beede, by Rizzo. Someone on MCC asked him directly if Beede expanded his repertoire for this start, and the great news is that he didn't, apparently he did it with better sequencing of his pitches, which he has been working on.

      Check out Bert Bradley's discussion of Beede around midway down this post: http://www.mccoveychronicles.com/2015/6/3/8718215/sf-giants-minor-lines-6-2

      Also talks about Mella afterward. Good stuff.

      So that's what he is capable of without using his best stuff more regularly! I am hoping they take the handcuffs off him in AA, and we can see how he does with all his pitches available.

      I understand the worry about the starting rotation. For Lincecum, I wouldn't worry too much, as he's our 5th starter. He's always been a little up and down, even when he was a Cy Young winner. He was pretty good last season for most of the season before losing his mechanics. That should not happen so badly like that anymore, one, his father is helping him again, two, he reportedly has learned what his best mechanics is suppose to be. He has had a lot of DOM starts, and the key thing to remember here is that he's still figuring some things out, like how to pitch with these new strategies while also striking out more guys. I'm not too worried about him.

      Vogelsong I'm not too worried either, at least not as much as others. When he got the right mindset and pitch sequencing, he's been very good, as his past few seasons have shown. He was one of our steadiest pitchers from 2011-2014, when he wasn't injured and recovering in 2013.

      I'm more worried about Hudson and Heston. I've been very worried about Hudson for most of the season, but now, after two DOM starts, I'm starting to get hopeful that perhaps he was having a delayed spring training because of his ankle injury.

      I am officially worried about Heston. I could excused the other DIS starts because those were hitter's park, but now he has one in AT&T. Now that is 3 DIS starts in the last few starts (I think 4).

      Krukow noted that this is part of his learning curve, so I'm hoping he learns enough to last until Cain is ready to come back.

      Say, since you know about SI joint, is that a long term thing that won't get solved until the off-season? Surgery? Physical therapy? It appears the Giants aren't expecting him to be 100% this season, but hoping he could at least pitch effectively at some point. THanks.

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    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    4. I wasn't so much 'correcting' only trying to point out that SI joint problems are tough. It took 3 years for my uncle to get diagnosed.

      The numbers I got from Casilla were from ESPNs closer report. They don't provide a lot of advanced stats. I just notices that he really isn't performing to snuff even though he has a lot of saves.

      Machi went on the DL today. Has a groin pull. But he really hadn't been pitching that well even before the injury. I can only hope the rehab also gives him time to fix himself.

      As far as Affeldt, he's been getting worse as the season goes on, not better. So he really worries me. I just hope he turns it around because the Giants need a reliable Affeldt if they're going to stay in playoff hunt.

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    5. Sorry, I sometimes phrase things in a certain way, and end up with some sort of misunderstanding. Understood, mainly I was appreciative of you giving me the additional information regarding the SI joint.

      No problem, he has underperformed this season, but as I noted, there seems to be some bad luck involved. But thanks for pointing out his negatives, you never know when a pitcher goes bad, so this could be the first signs. Something to monitor, for sure, but at least his peripherals seems to be normal.

      Unless this groin issue has been happening since last season, this won't help Machi much. It helps to keep him around, at least, and hopefully the coaches can figure out what is going on with him, but he's been off since early last season.

      So, one, I'm not too hopeful, and two, there is no space for him anyway on the 25-man roster.

      Even with him out of the picture, when Cain returns, Heston will probably be sent down (given his recent problem starts) to clear space. But if Peavy then makes it back, Vogelsong probably goes back to long relief, which them means sending Strickland back down.

      I know, worrying too soon, and these things tend to work out on their own, somebody might be injured or whatever. It will be interesting times.

      Yeah, Affeldt has not been good and I'm worried. But he's been so good for so long, I wonder if he's battling something that isn't an injury but still bother him, kind of like how McGehee was playing but really was recovering from the leg injury he had. Affeldt had that knee brace issue before, so I wonder if that might be in play. I recall him being really off like this when he took the brace off and wasn't pitching with it. I agree, he needs to turn it around, as he's been a key part of the three championships, and I don't see how we can do it without him, at the moment. I don't know if Okert is quite ready yet to replace him, he is having a down year relative to last season.

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