After the most recent road trip, when the San Francisco Giants went 1-5 against the Toronto Blue Jays and Colorado Rockies, fans are starting to run around like Chicken Little, proclaiming that the sky is falling. And while it was undoubtedly a disastrous week in terms of pitching and defense, there is reason to be optimistic about how the rest of the season will unfold for the Giants.
The first issue with the Giants as of late has been their atrocious defense. During the six-game road trip, the Giants committed 13 errors, some of which came on more-than-routine plays, like Marco Scutaro's drop of an easy pop up that he would've normally caught blindfolded. It was uncharacteristic for the Giants, who are generally a very sound defensive team.
On the season, the Giants have accumulated 35 errors, which is tied for the second most in the majors. That is certainly an alarming amount, but there is no reason to believe this trend will continue with the individual fielders the Giants have on the roster.
Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt and Buster Posey all have potential to win Gold Glove awards in the future, and Pablo Sandoval, Marco Scutaro and Gregor Blanco are all plus fielders as well. And while Angel Pagan and Hunter Pence aren't going to find themselves making web gems on a regular basis, they are by no means liabilities in the field. A team does not devolve into a bad defensive team overnight.
The starting pitching, however, is a bit more problematic at the moment, and there is some cause for concern. On this road trip alone, the Giants' starting pitching had an ERA of 9.82. As a result, the rotation's ERA on the season is now 4.73, which is eighth highest in the major leagues.
It has been quite some time since the Giants' starting pitching has struggled this much. In fact, you'd have to look all the way back to 1999 to find when the rotation had a higher ERA than it has now, which was 4.96. It's even a tougher pill to swallow now since the Giants have had a top-five rotation in baseball for the past four seasons.
While it's too soon to say that those days are nothing more than a distant memory, the inconsistencies of Tim Lincecum over the past two years and the recent injury to Ryan Vogelsong makes one wonder if it's time to shake up the rotation for the first time since the beginning of 2012.
While it is impossible to predict how the Giants rotation will fare for the rest of the season, the law of averages tends to balance itself out over the course of the season. If you were to tell me that Matt Cain, Lincecum and Vogelsong would finish with ERAs of 5.12, 4.70 and 7.19, respectively, I would probably bet against that.
And even with the struggling pitching staff, the Giants have been evolving as a team over the past year anyways. Believe it or not, the Giants have scored 214 runs this year, which is the third most in the NL. They also have a .274 batting average, which is the highest in the NL.
The Giants are no longer an offensively challenged team like they were in 2010. They can put runs on the board with the best of them and have multiple come-from-behind victories this season.
And when it's all said and done, the Giants still in first place in the NL West.
The rotation may not regain its dominance, but it's only a matter or time before it gets better. And once that happens, there won't be a scarier team in the NL.
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