The San Francisco Giants have won two of the past three World Series titles, and it has been their pitching that has led the way.
This season, however, is a completely different story.
The Giants' offense has been more than respectable, but their pitching has let them down. Early in the year, everything was looking good, as the Giants jumped out to a 19-12 record in their first 31 games.
Since then, however, the Giants have struggled to a record of 19-25 and are only one game above the .500 mark. Their once vaunted pitching staff has been very inconsistent.
The pitching woes have included both the starting rotation and the relief corps.
There are three primary reasons behind the Giants' mound problems. The first issue is fatigue. In two of the past three seasons, including 2012, the Giants played more baseball than any other National League team.
The intense grind of the playoffs and World Series meant that the Giants pitchers threw more innings than any other staff in baseball. These were also very high-stress innings, so fatigue—both mental and physical—is an issue.
The second issue is that opposing teams and hitters have made adjustments to the Giants' pitching tendencies. The most notable thing is that many teams are taking more pitches and running up the pitch count on Giants' starters earlier in games.
In order for Giants' pitchers to have success, it's their turn to readjust against opposing hitters. In an interview I recently conducted with Buster Posey, he stressed how making adjustments was one of the keys to success, both as a hitter and for his pitchers.
The third issue plaguing the Giants' pitching staff is injuries. With Ryan Vogelsong and Santiago Casilla both out, plus George Kontos' ineffectiveness, the Giants have called upon several minor league pitchers to try and hold the fort.
Although some of these Triple-A pitchers had initial success, they are beginning to struggle as manager Bruce Bochy has had to rely on them far too much.
Let's take a closer look at the Giants' pitching staff and we will see that the stats don't lie. The Giants' pitching has not been very good this year.
All stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com