Talking Giants Baseball: A San Francisco Giants/Baseball Blog: Help on the way from San Jose for struggling SF Giants pitchers (but not this year)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Help on the way from San Jose for struggling SF Giants pitchers (but not this year)

The San Francisco Giants are 11th in the National League in earned-run average (4.15 ERA).

That's right. The same starting rotation as last year's World Series-winning team is among the bottom-feeders in National League ERA.

But the same starting five is just a shell of its former self. Giants starting pitchers rank third-to-last in the league with a 4.82 ERA.

Despite the pitching struggles, the Giants remarkably sit just two-and-a-half games out in second place in the NL West at 31-28.

While the starting pitching has been abysmal, the stellar bullpen has continued from last year--along with good hitting. The Giants rank third in the National League in bullpen ERA (2.85) and are second in the league in team batting average (.268).

Few would have thought, after years of experts touting how deep the Giants' farm system was in pitching, the Giants would be in this mess. Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Ryan Vogelsong, Madison Bumgarner--and recently--Barry Zito, have carried the Giants, but it's a rotation-wide struggle this year.

But there's some good news and bad news.

The bad news--the Giants have no major-league ready stud in the upper minors to save the day. The Giants tried to bring up Mike Kickham from Fresno to make a start, but it was well--a disaster.

They sent him down shortly after. Kickham has a 4.57 ERA in 11 games started in Fresno.

The good news--the Giants have a surplus of pitching talent down in the lower minors.

According to Baseball America, The San Jose Giants, the SF Giants' Class-A team, have three-out-of-six pitchers in the organization's top 10 prospects.

Kyle Crick is the SF Giants'
number 1 prospect of 2013.
Kyle Crick, the SF Giants' number 1 prospect of 2013, is making a great impression right now. In three starts, Crick has a 0.93 ERA--but has only pitched 9.2 innings due to injury. His longest outing of the season was four innings.

In those nine-plus innings, Crick gave up 10 hits and struck out 12. He is currently on the 7-day disabled list and has not pitched since April 18.

Contrasting with the big-league Giants, the Class-A Giants lead the California league with a 3.53 ERA. They also lead the league in strikeouts (552), saves (19), fewest runs allowed (241), and fewest home runs allowed (35).

Even though he is not on the top-10 prospects list, Chris Marlowe, who Baseball America said has the best curveball in the organization, is lighting up the California League with his pitching.

In seven starts, Marlowe is 3-0 with a 1.95 ERA. He has only given up 33 hits in 37 innings pitched, but he is currently on the seven-day disabled list with shoulder fatigue.

The SF Giants have pitching troops in reserve--but they need a bit more training. For now, the current starting five will have to figure it out.

The biggest problem for them is command. Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, and the injured Ryan Vogelsong--all former San Jose Giants--must hit their spots and avoid location mistakes down the middle of the plate.

Last night against the Toronto Blue Jays, Lincecum was a model example of what good location in the strike zone can do. The Giants should hope his seven innings of one-run ball becomes the norm more than the anomaly because help from the minors is still a couple of years away.

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