On August 17th, the Giants’ Jason Schmidt took a 4-1 lead into the eighth inning. During that surprisingly important inning, he injured his groin, and left the game after the end of the inning. The Giants bullpen eventually lost the lead for him, (costing him what would have been his NL-leading 16th win), but the team was able to win in the bottom of the ninth (leaving the team’s record in games started by Schmidt at 16-7, a .659 winning percentage). At the time, I wrote that the Giants would be unable to survive any significant loss of time or effectiveness for the two-years running NL ERA leader, and (as of today) it appears that I may have been correct.
Since that game, the Giants have gone 21-14. As the Giants have lost 6 of the 7 Schmidt turns in the rotation (a .125 winning percentage), the rest of the Giants pitching staff have gone a remarkable 20-8 in games Schmidt hasn’t started. It’s been just enough to keep the team afloat as Schmidt has struggled to regain his command. Had Schmidt been anywhere near his pre-injury form (say, 4 wins in 7 starts, for a modest .571 winning percentage), the Giants would be, at worst, tied with the Dodgers. They would absolutely be leading the wild card race. The unfortunate timing of Schmidt’s injury could hardly have been prepared for, other than to say, it would have been nice had we had an adequate replacement available for the best pitcher in the game.
Instead, we had a team ERA of 6.57 while going 1-6 in games scheduled for our ace, perhaps the best pitcher in all of baseball at the time (whose ERA rose from 2.53 to 3.21 during his worst stretch of pitching in two seasons), during the most critical time of the year. For Brian Sabean and Peter Magowan (as well as all Giants fans), Schmidt’s injury has to seem like a cruel joke, for a team that has over-acheived all season.