You Can Build a Champion Around the San Francisco Giants' Starting Five

Timothy BakerCorrespondent IApril 25, 2008

Cain.  Zito.  Correia.  Lincecum.  Sanchez. 

I wouldn't trade for any other five guys in Major League Baseball to build my team around.  Pitching is to baseball what defense is to football—you build championships around them and the San Francisco Giants have five of the best starters in the game.

Matt Cain has got to be the hardest luck pitcher I've ever seen the last two years.  There is no mistaking this guys' ability to throw a baseball by hitters.  I believe that if the Giants can begin scoring runs when this guy pitches, he's going to become a perenial All-Star and 15-20 game winner.  I love his attitude and 95 MPH fastball.  Though Cain is 0-2 with 5.27 ERA, he's really only had one bad outing in his five starts thus far.  If he had received any support from the offense and the bullpen, he could easily be 4-1.  I shudder to think what this guy could do for a team like the Red Sox.  We'd be talking Cy Young.

Speaking of Mr. Young: Barry Zito already has one of these tropies on his mantel.  I know people are writing him off as a huge disappointment, but he too hasn't pitched all that badly.  I think he's the best 0-5 pitcher in baseball.  Everyone seems to be concerned about his lost velocity, but I don't think that's the real issue.  To me, Zito's problem is not getting ahead in the count and then laying up a beach ball sized pitch over the middle of the plate.  Big league hitters are too good to leave the ball over the middle and hoping for a fly ball or grounder to short.  The season is not lost yet for Zito and expect May to be much kinder to him.  Look for a probable five game winning streak.

I am thrilled the Giants are giving Kevin Correia a chance to become a starter.  I believed he had better stuff starting than relieving and he's proving it this season.  His 4.21 ERA is respectable and would result in a better than 1-3 record on most teams.  But, this is the Giants and they're not scoring many runs for anybody.  Correia keeps giving the ballclub 6-7 solid innings every start and I expect him to have a break out year this year.

Oh, and who would you say is pulling away from the rest of the starters to become the ace of the staff?  Well, in my opinion, Tim Lincecum is doing nothing short of fulfilling his awesome potential.  At 4-0 and with a sick 1.23 ERA, the rest of the country is starting to sit up and take notice.  I can't believe Brian Sabean was even thinking for a minute about trading Lincecum for Toronto's Alex Rios this winter.  My God, that would've been the biggest boner since Buckner's error in 1986.  Lincecum is flat out making the hitters look foolish.  If he keeps this up, Lincecum's going to find himself at Yankee Stadium starting the Midsummer Classic for the National League.  I think other teams have already started to take notice that this young man is one difficult guy to hit off of and that superstars are going to be taking days off when Lincecum is on the mound. 

With Noah Lowry on the DL and Barry Zito's struggles, Jonathan Sanchez has become the teams only reliable left handed starter.  In just his first year as a full time starter, Sanchez has impressed me with his 2:1 strikeouts to walks ratio.  His 4 starts match is career high for a season, so the jury is still out whether or not he can hold up as a starter for the whole year.  He's probably headed back to the bullpen as soon as Lowry gets healthy, but in the meantime, I've enjoyed watching his starts.  He's got wicked stuff and Sanchez is definitely throwing strikes, which is what any manager likes to see from his pitchers.  But, Sanchez could stay in the rotation if Zito's poor pitching continues.  I don't see that happening, but it would be a nice problem for Bochy to have when Lowry comes back.

I can't think of a better five under 20 to build a team around.  Now, if only the Giants can continue to play solid defense and score runs, you might see what no one could've predicted: a winning season from the boys in black and orange.