San Francisco Giants: Support Your Local Starting Pitcher
The San Francisco Giants are in the midst of a magical run in the 2009 season. Picked to finish in the middle of the National League West, this was written off as a rebuilding year before the season even began.
Now, 91 games into the season the Giants sit in second place in the division, and an almost miraculous first place in the wild card.
The pitching has been world class as the Giants lead the majors in both E.R.A (3.46) and strikeouts (723). The top two starters, Lincecum and Cain, are both early candidates for the CY Young award, and have combined for an unthinkable 21-4 record.
The hitting however has been a different story.
The Giant's are near the bottom of the majors in pretty much every major category, but this article isn't about that; it's about the one pitcher on this Giants team that has benefited from a league worst run support, the Giants' number four starter, Barry Zito.
People love to bash the former ace every chance they get, starting mainly with his contract.
No one can argue that it is not terrible, but Zito is finally pitching well enough to earn that money, even though it took him until his third season with the team.
Zito is currently on pace to have more wins, more strikeouts, and a better ERA then in either of his first two seasons on the Giants. He might have already eclipsed that though, if his run support wasn't so low.
In 19 appearances this season the Giants have mustered up a total of 32 runs; that's not even two runs a game for him. How is any pitcher expected to thrive on that?
People will argue that is ERA is a little high, even though in a respectable range, and if he pitched even better, he would be more successful.
Well why don't we do a little math. The Giants offense scores an average of 1.68 runs per game in support of Zito.
For argument's sake, that means he would basically have to have an ERA of 1.67 in order to have a record over .500.
Look around the majors. Look at the Lincecum's, the Halladay's, the Beckett's, and Santana's. Do any of them have an ERA even remotely close to the number needed to win on this run support? Absolutely not.
Zito may have a 5-10 record with an ERA of 4.89, but he is pitching like his old self. His fastball is reaching the upper eighties; on the cusp of hitting ninety. His curveball is still 12-to-6 and his slider is darting.
But in the end, when you look at the stat sheet, there isn't a category for run support, and it's just too damn bad.
Greg Caggiano is a writer on Bleacher Report covering the New York Rangers. He has a New York area sports teams blog called Metro-Sports, where you can read great articles about all professional sports teams that play in the area by a dedicated team of young writers.
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