The 4 Biggest Disappointments for the Giants So Far
2013 was almost bound to be disappointing given the sky-high standards set by the 2012 World Champion San Francisco Giants.
Coming off of a postseason where everything came together—the rotation, bullpen, offense—the 2013 squad had high expectations. And with a lineup returning MVP Buster Posey, ace Matt Cain and two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum, the Giants were bursting with potential.
However, struggling starting pitching and periodically anemic offense left the Giants barely over .500 more than a third of the way into the season. The National League West as a whole has not done much better, and the Giants are in third place, 1.5 games behind the division-leading Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Giants have managed to stay in contention, despite major disappointments from key players.
1. Tim Lincecum
In the 2012 postseason, Tim Lincecum was a changed man. Gone were the rocky starts and the inconsistent control. Coming out of the bullpen, Lincecum made up for a year’s worth of ups and downs with a dominant playoff run. In 13 innings spread over five appearances, he allowed one run on three hits, with two walks and 17 strikeouts.
It looked like the Lincecum of old, the one who won two Cy Youngs and baffled hitters with his unorthodox delivery. Coming into the 2013 season—and the final season of his two-year, $40.5 million contract—the Giants front office hoped Lincecum’s postseason performance was a harbinger of things to come.
Lincecum started the season allowing zero earned runs to the Dodgers in five innings, but then his performance started to go downhill. In his very next start, Lincecum gave up six to the Rockies and followed it up with a four-run outing in Chicago.
Lincecum boasts a 4.57 ERA, but more troubling is his 1.45 WHIP. The right-hander has given up a team-high 39 walks on the season. Despite occasional quality starts, Lincecum’s struggle with consistency looks similar to 2012.
2. Hector Sanchez
Hector Sanchez provided much-needed versatility to the Giants’ lineup as one of three catchers at the beginning of the season. The backup catcher proved his worth last season catching Tim Lincecum starts and improving defensively by leaps and bounds.
Although Sanchez is a free-swinger, the Giants brass liked his power and ability to hit in the clutch. He hit .280/.295/.390 in 74 games during the 2012 season. With 18 extra-base hits and 34 RBI, the Giants felt comfortable tapping Sanchez when Buster Posey needed a rest.
However, this season got off to a tough start for the catcher. After picking up only three hits in the month of May, Sanchez was sent down after May 1 to get more consistent at-bats.
Sanchez batted .150 in his early-season appearances with the Giants, and he struggled with injury in the minors. But he has been seeing the ball better and is hitting .320 with four doubles and a home run.
The Giants recalled Sanchez from Fresno on June 13, and it remains to be seen whether or not he will once again become an effective backup for Posey in the crouch.
3. Angel Pagan
Angel Pagan was a presence in the leadoff spot last season, hitting .288/.338/.440. His speed on the basepaths allowed him to steal 29 bases in 36 attempts and hit a record 15 triples in his first season with the Giants.
This season he is 6-for-10 in stolen bases and has been on the disabled list with a hamstring injury since May 26, after hitting a walk-off, inside-the-park home run to beat the Rockies.
Though Pagan started off the month of April hot, he quickly slowed down and went to the disabled list hitting .244/.302/.436. Since Pagan’s departure, the Giants have adapted with the red-hot Gregor Blanco in center field.
Pagan has refused surgery for his injury after being informed that it was an option, and he is nearing readiness for a rehab assignment. The Giants expected far more out of Pagan after re-signing him for a four-year, $40 million contract during the offseason.
4. Matt Cain
Ace Matt Cain opened the season with six scoreless innings against the Dodgers. Although he got the loss, Cain looked like his typical self with eights strikeouts and a walk.
However, as the season has progressed, Cain’s ERA has inflated to a career-high 4.70. In 14 starts, Cain has allowed 46 earned runs. Compared to last season’s 68 earned runs, these numbers do not bode well for the starter.
Worse, the Giants are 7-7 in Cain starts. While the Giants are used to looking toward Cain as a stopper, he has not been able to consistently step into that role this season.
It’s not for lack of run support. Giants pitchers have often boasted lower win-loss records than their ERAs would suggest due to a lack of offense. Although a problem for Cain last season, the Giants have averaged more than three runs per game in Cain starts. Along the way, Cain has been rocked for a career-high nine earned runs in April, as well as three more outings allowing six or more.
With Cain struggling to regain his dominance, the rotation lacks its traditional leader and identity.
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