The San Francisco Giants have played nine games. That’s the equivalent of 5.5 percent of a Major League season.
That being said, this is not the time for Giants fans to panic.
From the nine games that we’ve seen, there can only be a few facts stated without much speculation.
First, the starting pitching has been terrible.
Second, the lineup is struggling where it’s not supposed to be.
Third, the starting pitching has been terrible.
If there were reason to get concerned, which there isn’t, because there is still 95 percent of the season to be played, it would be with the pitching.
The Giants went into this season with arguably one of the best starting rotations, on paper, in baseball.
Three Cy Young winners in Tim Lincecum, Randy Johnson, and Barry Zito, one of the most underappreciated starters in Matt Cain, and the best No. 5 starter in the National League in Jonathan Sanchez, were meant for big things in 2009.
So far that hasn’t been the case. Lincecum, the 2008 Cy Young winner, is 0-1 with a 7.56 ERA, lasting a grand total of 8.1 innings in his two starts.
Johnson is equally as unimpressive, with an 0-2 mark and an eye-grabbing 11.42 ERA, pitching 8.2 innings.
Zito looked dominant at times against the Dodgers but still fell to 0-2 with a 10.00 ERA in nine innings pitched.
Sanchez will pitch tomorrow against the Diamondbacks, but he only lasted 4.2 innings against the Padres, giving up five earned runs and walking five.
Cain is the only pitcher on the staff who has looked decent, winning the only game out of the five starters and owning an impressive 2.08 ERA in 13 innings.
The pitching staff will shape up. The real meat of the Giants pitching corps is in the setup and closer roles, and they have been used sparingly in the Giants' seven losses.
It doesn’t help to have an All-Star closer in Brian Wilson if he never makes it onto the mound. Once the starters get back in their rhythm, the record will turn around.
Lincecum’s problems have been traced to faulty mechanics. The only problem is that with his unique delivery, there is only so much that pitching coach Dave Righetti can do to help. For him, it is mostly watching film, and maybe flying his dad out for a couple days.
Johnson has had problems keeping the baseball in the yard, giving up four homers in two outings. The blow by Milwaukee pitcher Yovani Gallardo is a real stinger, but Johnson’s experience should help him overcome this problem.
As he has advanced through the years, Johnson has become more dependent on his slider, and he’ll have to get used to throwing it outside of the dry Arizona climate.
Zito showed glimpses of his second-half self so far. He was hitting 90 MPH on the gun in Los Angeles, striking out four and blanking the Bums from the third to the fifth.
The offense will come around. They’re batting .240 as a team and batted .208 on their tour of Southern California.
Pablo Sandoval was mired in the self-proclaimed “worst slump ever” of his baseball career but broke out with a single and a double against the Dodgers on Thursday night.
The batting order switch of Emmanuel Burriss (.192) and Edgar Renteria (.156) gave a hint of progress, with Burriss racking up three hits and Renteria notching an RBI single.
Randy Winn and Aaron Rowand combined to go 0-for-9 against Dodgers pitching last night, which won’t happen every day. Despite his humble spring, Winn is still good to hit .300 with 15 HR. Rowand, who hit the ball hard throughout the Cactus League schedule, will also break out of his mini-slump.
What it comes down to is, the Giants are misfiring on all cylinders right now. This team is hinged upon their starting rotation, and their true potential will be observed when the offense starts to click, stringing a few hits together.
Right now, the starters are out of sync with themselves, and the hitters haven’t found the clutch stroke needed to contribute.
They will click. That day will come. Even a shell of Lincecum will dominate a good majority of Major League hitters. Even a grizzly veteran like Johnson can strike out 200 people in a season and win 15 games.
Remember, there are still 153 games left. Ninety-five percent. The Giants faithful who have found their team back on the rise as recently as last year—please don’t lose that faith.
This team will succeed. Just wait.
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