The San Francisco Giants may not have the offense of the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox, but they do have one of the most formidable starting rotations in the league.
Led by 2008 National League Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum, the Giant's pitching staff will be a force to be reckoned with.
The Freak will be joined by former Cy Young winners Randy Johnson and Barry Zito. Plus potential Cy Young candidate and co-ace Matt Cain whose only problem is getting help from bats that remain dormant whenever he starts a game.
The fifth spot is still a question mark. Noah Lowry the Giants win leader in '05 and '07 is coming back from arm surgery and will have to win back the starting role from Jonathan Sanchez.
While many have speculated that either Lowry or Sanchez will be traded for a productive hitter. It seems more likely that Lowry will be moved, due to Sanchez's tremendous upside.
But can the West be won with starting pitching alone? It seems that in such a weak division the answer is yes.
While offense will still be a problem for the Giants, the starting five will be able to pitch close games and give the Giants a chance to win. But a lot has to fall into place for this to happen.
The Giants will only win the division if Lincecum has a similar season to '08, Johnson and Zito regain their Cy Young forms, Cain gets some run support, and Sanchez finds consistency.
If this were to happen, nobody in the League will want to face anyone of these pitchers come playoff time.
Of course let's look at the reality here.
Tim Lincecum's third season will now have high expectations, and we'll see how Lincecum deals with the pressure of being the official staff ace. Although Lincecum was able to handle pressure in last season's Cy Young hunt, it will be a different story this year once the league gets adjusted to him.
As always, Barry Zito will look like the "bust" of the century unless he has more wins than losses. Yet his 3.15 ERA in September is an indication he maybe finally settling in since he is no longer the lead guy.
Randy Johnson's back is always a concern, considering his age. Let's hope it doesn't give out. His strikeout ratio from last year was down, but AT&T park should lower his ERA.
Matt Cain is always a victim of low run support, it's like the Giants take a break on offense and want Cain to win close games. If the Giants score some runs for him, he may be able to garner more confidence in his pitching.
Johnathan Sanchez will look brilliant from time to time. But when he starts to lose consistency in his pitches he leaves them up in the zone and gets raked by the opposing team. Last season was Sanchez's first full season as a starter, so this season will be a true test of whether or not Sanchez really is the pitcher the Giants thinks he is.
Regardless of what happens this season for the Giants, it seems that the Giants rotation is good enough to win their division. There is hope for them yet, because as we all know the game of baseball comes down to pitching. The Giants have plenty of it.
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