Matt Cain’s continued struggles to find the plate combined with no offense led to a big fat bleh of a game last night. For the 400 media present in case Bonds made history, well, there must have been a lot of sleepy, fat men in front of laptops. I could hardly stay awake myself.
What a flat, hollow team these Giants are. They now have the fewest wins and the second most losses in all of baseball. They are 12th in the NL in runs scored, with 414, and they’ve allowed 425, good for 6th, but they have the 12th fewest strikeouts and the second most walks. What that means is simple; their offense is predictably bad, and they have not pitched nearly as well as their ERA would lead you to believe.
As much as you could say they’ve been unlucky –they should be near .500 according to their runs scored and allowed numbers– they’ve actually allowed fewer runs than they should have. They have kept the ball in the park, (allowing only 69 home runs when they probably should have allowed more like 90, based on their hits and fly balls allowed) but they’ve also given a huge number of free passes, so their innings seem to go on and on. This is the one part of Righetti’s approach that I can focus on:
He instructs them to go after people for the first three pitches, and then nibble. That is clear as day. The Giants pitching staff goes from 1-2 to 3-2 as often, and as fast, as any in the game. They never try and finish guys off, and I mean, never. That kind of approach is problematic. It means that, either Rags doesn’t think these guys have the stuff to finish guys off, or that they actually don’t. Oh, and I guess it could also mean that Rags is a lousy coach, with no idea what the hell he’s doing. Well, unless the goal is to prevent home runs, which they’ve done well. Of course, the end result is a lot of walks, a lot of long innings, and a lot of losses.
Either way, the team ERA is an illusion. Right now, this is a .400 team, and no amount of gloss can cover that up. It also means that, other than Lincecum (98 strikeouts and just 38 walks) and Sanchez (11.90 strikeouts per 9 IP), not one of these pitchers predicts to be much of a pitcher down the road. Matt Cain has now thrown 237 innings in the majors, and struck out 209 guys, while walking 106. That’s good, but certainly doesn’t translate into an ace. This isn’t a guy with stuff so good he can’t harness it, like a Randy Johnson or a Pedro or a Clemens. Baseball-Reference lists his ten most comparable players, and, other than Justin Verlander, it’s a bunch of nobodies.
And then there’s the other Barry.
Jeez, Louise, what a shitty season he’s had. 113 innings pitched, 78 strikeouts, 54 walks, a team-high 14 home runs allowed…. All in all, as bad a first season with a blockbuster contract as one could have possibly imagined. A lot has been made about his first inning problems, but it’s really just his first 15 pitches. In his first 15 pitches, he’s allowed a staggering 1.108 OPS, with 19 hits allowed. After that, he’s been a normal version of himself, but by then, he’s already down. Included in those 19 hits are 5 doubles and 4 home runs., which means that they’ve been getting on, and getting in. Allowing 9 RBI’s and 7 runs in your first fifteen pitches is absurd, and a recipe for losing, which is what he’s done.
And things are getting worse, not better.
April 3.73 ERA
May 4.62 ERA
June 5.60 ERA
July 6.75 ERA
That is one ugly trend. The league has figured him out, and he and Rags, whatever adjustments they’ve made, haven’t figured out the league.