Up today, as we continue to take a look back at 2011, is the starting pitchers. This was the strength of the team and if the Giants are going to contend next season it will need to be again.
The ERA is shiny and looks nice but there are some things that are not exactly swell here. First Lincecum posted the lowest strikeout rate of his career, while it was still good at 9.12 when it was taken with his elevated walk rate for the year it represented the first time that his K/BB fell below 3 since his rookie season.
I am not sure that we will ever see the elite strikeout stuff from him again (where he is above 10 per 9 innings), strikeout rate is something that peaks at a young age for most pitchers and I think the best strikeout stuff is probably behind him. He is still one of the best pitchers in baseball but he is probably not THE best anymore.
Overall it was a very good season from Lincecum and it was said that one of his prime seasons was squandered with the worst offense in the National League backing him up.
I did well with this projection in every spot except one, Matt Cain was able to have a historical home run prevention seasons. With that he was able post some career best numbers in ERA, FIP and fWAR.
The big difference this season was that he also posted his highest ground ball rate and his lowest fly ball rate of his career. I am not sure if that is the reason for his career bests in other numbers but it probably was a positive factor especially with the fact that he still had the ability (or great luck) to keep his fly balls in the park.
It is hard to believe but Cain is younger than Lincecum and I think that he still has many good years in front of him, it would be a sad story if the coming season were his last in Orange and Black.
The last time I was as excited for a pitcher to get back on the mound as I am for Bumgarner right now was after Lincecum's rookie season.
I think Bumgarner is on the verge of becoming an elite pitcher. He got off to a slow start and had some bad luck despite pitching pretty well and finished the season like a mad man.
From the start of June to the end of the season Bumgarner posted a 9.28 K/9 with a 1.54 BB/9 which was good enough for a 2.57 FIP. That is crazy good and I think that is just scratching the surface of his enormous talent.
It is possible that if things break right that Bumgarner could be the best pitcher on this pitching staff that already includes a top 7 and top 20 pitcher in baseball right now. I am not sure if someone has already started the bandwagon but I am all in on Bumgarner for Cy Young campaign for next year.
The story of Ryan Vogelsong was the story best story of the 2011 season in my opinion. I still can't believe that he was not awarded the comeback player of the year award but he will always be the winner in my mind.
Vogelsong came out of no where, pitched lights out in triple-A Fresno and then just kept on going into the majors. The big thing for him was that he was able to get his walk rate down to an acceptable level and with that he turned in a great performance.
If he can keep the walks under control again he should be a respectable 4th starter, he is not likely to post a sub 3.00 ERA again but he can be a league average pitcher and if the baseball gods continue to smile upon him maybe the great story just keeps on going.
For some crazy reason I was optimistic about Zito going into 2011, well that blew up in my face as Zito struggled with injuries and trying to pitch with a fastball that couldn't crack 85 miles an hour.
There are still two years and one big buyout left on the Zito contract so this one is not likely to be eaten without giving Zito every chance to prove that he still has something left in the tank but if the fastball velocity does not come back it might be close to the end of the road.
If he does have something left, he is the fifth starter so at least he has a low bar of performance to live up to. I guess we will see how the off season treated him when the reports on his velocity start coming out in Spring Training.
Sanchez was deemed the number two starter at the beginning of the season and it seemed to have a weird effect on the way that he pitched, it was like he had proven that he was good and didn't have anything else to work for.
He didn't care about the walks he was pilling up and they ballooned from the season before. He still missed bats but the free passes came back to haunt him too much. He was frustrating to watch and eventually the Giants grew sick of waiting for him to figure it out and gave him a change of scenery trade to see if he can figure it out in Kansas City.
I hope he does figure it out because he is a very talented but oh so very flawed pitcher.
His double-A numbers were incredible, his major league numbers not so much.In the minors he was a strike out machine with nice control, in the majors he seemed to have lost a bit of that confidence and didn't attack the strike zone so we saw his walk rate jump.
I think that he still has the potential to be a middle of the rotation kind of talent as the best case and a back end guy as the most likely out come. It is hard to see much more with a fastball that only touches 90 miles per hour on occasion.
Surkamp will probably go to triple-A Fresno to start next season where he will be the in case of emergency starter next season in case someone gets hurt or if Zito is totally broken and can't get people out. Hopefully the Giants are able to grab some more insurance to stash in Freno because after Surkamp the pitching depth in the high minors is pretty thin and could get ugly real quick.
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