Can San Francisco Giants Pitching Translate to Postseason Success?
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The saying goes good pitching beats good hitting. It's actually more than a saying. It's a reality. If you have a dominant pitcher on his game, there is not a hitter on the planet that can hit him.
Painting the black. Hitting your spots. Changing speeds.
It is something the Giants pitching staff has done very well for the past 18 games. They have not allowed more than three runs in a game since September 4.
No pitching staff in the modern age has put together a better stretch. In fact only two other teams since 1900 have put together such a stretch, the 1916 New York Giants (19) and the 1917 Chicago White Sox (20).
This means every man from the ace of the staff to the last bullpen guy is getting the job done. Every last pitcher is hitting on all cylinders.
In September, the Giants have a team ERA of 1.44 with a WHIP of 0.82. The starting staff has a combined ERA of 1.85, and the bullpen has given up two runs in 51 innings. That comes out to a 0.35 ERA.
With all of this recent September success, a question remains: Can this continue into the postseason? Can the Giants pitching staff ride this momentum into October and make an impact?
October baseball has always been about strong pitching and clutch hitting. Let's focus on the pitching.
The type of guys that usually flourish in the postseason are hard-throwing control pitchers. It so happens the Giants have those. Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Jonathan Sanchez provide that in the rotation.
All these guys can get the strikeout if needed and have proven so. Sanchez and Lincecum will have over 200 strikeouts this season. Cain is currently at 165, but as Giants fans have seen, when he needs one, he can get one.
Santiago Casilla, Dan Runzler, and Brian Wilson provide that out of the bullpen. Hard to argue with guys who throw in the mid-to-high 90s.
In fact, if you were to go back through the Giants' history and look at past pitching staffs, this could be the best pitching staff the San Francisco Giants have ever had.
Are there individual exceptions? Yes, but there has not been an entire staff that has dealt in the team's history.
Think about any of the pitching staffs of the 90s and early 2000s...pitching wasn't that trustworthy.
Think back to the 1989 team. Why did they lose the World Series to the Athletics?
Oh, right. Steroids...I mean lack of pitching.
From beginning to end, it is tough to find a weakness in the pitching staff. In the playoffs, though, it is about matchups.
If the playoffs were to start today, San Francisco would be hosting the Cincinnati Reds.
Playoff experience will be a wash in the series. The Reds have not been to the playoffs since the 1990s, and the Giants not since 2003.
There are key guys who have been there before (i.e. Scott Rolen, Barry Zito, Juan Uribe) but the teams as a whole will be in for a new experience.
The Giants are 4-3 against the Reds this season. They split their first series in Cincinnati and took two out of three in San Francisco.
The series in San Francisco was the worst the pitching staff had looked all season. It was the middle of August and the starting pitching was falling apart. Lincecum could not buy a win. Zito looked like the 2007 version of himself. Hitting off Madison Bumgarner was like hitting off of a tee.
But there was one guy who the Reds could not figure out. That person was Cain. In his two starts, he allowed two runs in 17 innings (two wins).
Tim Lincecum did not face the Reds this season.
In a short series, the Giants arms could neutralize the Reds bats. The difference could be the type of player Joey Votto turns into come October.
Cain might be the person you start twice in this series (if necessary). Recent success should have much to do with that decision.
A four-man rotation seems to make the most sense at this point. Roll with Lincecum, Sanchez, Cain, Zito. They have varying styles and having lefties in the rotation for teams like Philadelphia and Cincinnati is always helpful.
If the Giants pitching can keep up the torrid pace, they will be a team no offense will want to face.
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