Giants Spring Aces

Tom DubberkeCorrespondent IMarch 25, 2010

A couple of days ago, I wrote a post on the Giants who were hitting well this Spring.  Here’s the post on the top pitchers.

Among the starters, Matt Cain is the only guy with a lock on a job who is pitching pretty well.  He has a 3.52 ERA with a line of 15.1 IP, 18 hits and only one walk allowed and eight Ks.

Jonathan Sanchez has been inconsistent.  Barry Zito looks like the Barry Zito Giants fans have been disappointed with since the team payed him too much free agent money (4.40 ERA, 20 hits, six walks and nine Ks in 14.1 IP), and Tim Lincecum has been awful, although he’s at least still striking people out.

You may have heard already that Madison Bumgarner has been sent down to AAA.  He had a 6.43 ERA with seven walks and zero strikeouts in seven innings pitched.  I can’t see anything wrong with that decision — he clearly needs more seasoning.

Potential fifth starters Kevin Pucetas and Todd Wellemeyer have pitched great so far.  Pucetas has an 0.64 ERA, and Wellemeyer has a 1.20 ERA.

Needless to say, neither pitcher is really that good.  Pucetas has a line you see only in the kind of limited sample you get in Spring Training: 14 IP, six hits, two walks and three Ks.  He isn’t striking anyone out, but all the balls are being hit at people.  I can’t see that continuing through the long season.

Wellemeyer’s line looks like the best you can expect from a pitcher with his history: 15 IP, 14 hits and three walks allowed and four Ks.  He isn’t fooling anyone, but they aren’t hitting him square either.

My strong hunch is that both Pucetas and Wellemeyer make the major league club out of Spring Training, but with Wellemeyer in the rotation and Pucetas in the bullpen, at least until Wellemeyer proves he isn’t good enough to start.  Wellemeyer is the veteran with experience starting at the major league level; Pucetas is a young pitcher who will be best served starting his major league career at the bottom of the Giants’ bullpen.

Among the relievers, Alex Hinshaw and Dan Runzler are pitching especially well.  Both have yet to give up a run.  Runzler has been better, and since both are looking to fill the left-handed short man role, behind left-handed set-up man Jeremy Affeldt (USA Today is reporting that the Giants have just signed Affeldt to a two-year $9.5 million extension — we’ll see if the story has legs — I kind of hope not, because that’s probably too much money for a set-up man who’s already 31 this season in the current market), you have to figure that Runzler’s fine late-season 2009 performance at the major league level virtually guarantees him the job.

Runzler has pitched 6.1 innings with three hits and three walks allowed and a crazy (at least in that many innings pitched) 12 Ks.  Hinshaw has only pitched four innings over six appearances, but has allowed only two walks to go with six strikeouts.

Sergio Romo is pitching extremely well.  His ERA is zero with a line of eight IP, two hits and zero walks allowed and six Ks.  Can’t do much better than that.

Romo has one of the better sliders I’ve seen recently, but something about watching him pitch makes me think he’s got more arm problems in his future.  It probably has something to do with the exceptionally sharp movement on his slider and the fact that he isn’t particularly big.

Minor leaguer Henry Sosa has had a fine Spring with a zero ERA in 6.2 IP.  He’s given up three walks to go with four strikeouts.

I don’t see any way Sosa makes the team out of Spring Training no matter how well he pitches, because he didn’t pitch at all after the All-Star Break in 2009.  He went 6-0 with a 2.36 ERA for the AA Connecticut Defenders last season in 14 starts before hurting his arm and being shut down for the year.  My guess he starts the season at AAA Fresno.  He’s only 24 this year, so he’s still got time to develop.

The Giants’ top scrap-heap find so far this Spring has been Denny Bautista.  You may recognize the name.  He’s been kicking around the fringes of the major leagues since about 2005, and he’s having a fine Spring with a 2.57 ERA with three walks allowed and ten Ks in seven innings pitched.

Veteran Guillermo Mota also looks ready for the 2010 season.  His 3.86 ERA isn’t overwhelming, but his ten Ks in seven innings pitched suggests that at age 36, he’s still got something left.

Forgot to mention that Brian Wilson is pitching extremely well this Spring.  However, he’s a lock on the closer role until he doesn’t get the job done during the regular season, so it’s a good sign, but not a particularly interesting story.

In not very related news, the Giants are reportedly shopping Freddie Lewis and Kevin Frandsen hard this Spring.  Lewis is out of options, and while Frandsen has one left, he’s a player over age 27 who still hasn’t established himself as a major leaguer, even in a utility capacity.

Lewis and Frandsen are both decent players, and I’ll be a little sad to see them go, if they do.  However, they’re not the kind of players who get you to the post-season either, so it’s a mistake to let yourself get too attached to them.