For years, the starting rotation of the San Francisco Giants has been the steady force on a highly successful ball club. Not only had the organization's lack of starting pitching depth not been exposed, they've often been able to overcome a weak offense.
That wasn't the case in 2013, however, when Madison Bumgarner was the only Giants starter to finish with numbers that weren't well below expectations. And the Giants hitters, despite some bright spots, weren't capable of picking up the slack.
The result was an 86-loss season, their first sub-.500 finish since 2008.
They'll try to rebound in 2014 with mostly the same team intact, aside from offseason additions Tim Hudson and Michael Morse. A big year from third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who should be extra motivated as he enters his last season before he can become a free agent, would help, as would an MVP-caliber season from Buster Posey as opposed to the solid, yet unspectacular one he put together in 2013.
A return to stability for the rotation could be all this team really needs, though, to return to contention and avoid falling further in a very talented division.