What went right, what went wrong for Giants pitchers in first half
What Went Right: After a fluke injury at the end of camp knocked him out of opening day, Bumgarner has returned to the top of the rotation. He’s posted a 2.90 ERA in eight starts and is back to his inning-eating ways. Bumgarner’s fastball velocity is back to it’s normal range, and he looks poised for a big second half.
What Went Wrong: There’s not much you can do about a liner to the mound, and a fractured fifth metacarpal sidelined Bumgarner the first 60 games of the season. Given the way he was throwing in Scottsdale, the injury likely cost him an All-Star appearance. Bumgarner is 1-for-18 at the plate with one homer, and that’s not what we’re used to.
What Went Right: In April, Cueto looked poised to swipe the All-Star start from hometown star Max Scherzer. He was 3-0 with a 0.84 ERA through five starts, holding opposing hitters to a .150 average and striking out 26 in 32 innings. Then the elbow started barking, although even that came with a positive of sorts. Cueto thought he was for sure headed for Tommy John surgery, but Dr. James Andrews told him he just needed rest. We’ll see how it all turns out, but for now Cueto is set to start the third game of the second half.
What Went Wrong: The right elbow sprain knocked Cueto out for 61 games, and he hasn’t come back as the same pitcher. In two starts, Cueto has allowed eight runs over 10 innings and opposing hitters have an OPS well over 1.000. His velocity is down several ticks, and the Giants are not sure it will return. It seems this isn’t headed for a happy ending, although for now Cueto is out there and hopeful he can knock the rust off.
What Went Right: If you’re looking for a silver lining, doctors have apparently told Samardzija several times that he does not need shoulder surgery. What does he need beyond rest? That’s unclear, but shoulder surgery is often a death blow for pitchers, so there’s a positive. In rare moments this season, he has hit 98 mph, so despite all the injuries the arm is still special.
What Went Wrong: It was a disastrous first half for Samardzija, who missed the beginning of the season, returned for eight starts, went back on the DL, returned for two starts, and then went back on the DL. He has a 6.25 ERA and could be out for an extended stretch. It’s easy to say put him in the bullpen, but Samardzija has had issues warming up, so it’s difficult to see that working. The future is murky.
What Went Right: Holland has been a godsend, first for the rotation and then the bullpen. Overall, he has a 4.09 ERA in 21 appearances, 18 of them starts, and he leads the team with 101 1/3 innings. Holland has 15 strikeouts in 10 2/3 relief innings but looks headed back to the rotation after the Samardzija news. Oh, the water-jug walk-off celebration has been a nice addition, too.
What Went Wrong: The move to the bullpen was more about the way two rookies are throwing, but Holland surely wishes he had made the decision more difficult. He lasted just 3 2/3 innings against the Diamondbacks on July 1 as team officials were pondering moves.
What Went Right: There were a lot of surprises in the first half, but Rodriguez’s development might have been the best thing to happen to the Giants in their first 98 games. Rodriguez has a 2.89 ERA, leading all NL rookie starters, and it doesn’t seem like much of a fluke. It’s a four-pitch mix with a fastball that regularly hits 95. Rodriguez showed strong command throughout the minors and is averaging just 2.5 walks per nine innings.
What Went Wrong: Not much to complain about here. While Rodriguez has a low ERA, xFIP (4.23) doesn’t like him as much, so there’s that? He’s just 1-for-15 at the plate, and perhaps you would expect more from a former outfielder, but again, it was a big first half for the rookie, and it’s hard to pick much that went wrong.
What Went Right: The former second-rounder has a 3.94 ERA and is locked into a rotation spot. Suarez has shown surprising nasty stuff, works quickly and throws strikes. That’ll work. Before Sunday’s start, he had a run of six consecutive starts allowing one or two runs. He looks like a solid starter for years to come, and a homegrown one at that. Unlike with Rodriguez, xFIP (3.33) loves Suarez.
What Went Wrong: Early on, Suarez had a bunch of short starts, and he only lasted five innings Sunday, giving up four runs. He’s had a few of those days. We know we keep bringing up hitting, but Suarez pitches in the National League, so it matters a bit that he hasn’t been able to get bunts down. He has one hit in 29 at-bats with 18 strikeouts.
What Went Right: By just about every measure, Smith is better than he was before having Tommy John surgery. His ERA (1.23) and WHIP (0.78) are career-bests by a long shot. He’s striking out 12.3 batters per nine innings, well ahead of his career average of 10.3, his fastball is maxing out about one mph ahead of where it was the season before he got hurt, and he hasn’t allowed a homer. Smith has three saves and will open the second half as the club’s closer.
What Went Wrong: Smith gave up runs in just four of 30 appearances. It’s basically been a flawless return.
What Went Right: Dyson is tied for the league lead with 47 appearances and leads the team with 46 relief innings. He has a 3.13 ERA. 3.69 FIP and his walk rate has been cut just about in half since last year. He’s getting grounders at a 60 percent clip and has induced nine double plays.
What Went Wrong: Bochy has had to back off at times, although it makes sense when you consider how much Dyson has pitched. He struggled when given a chance in the ninth and the plug was soon pulled, and there were a few shaky outings early on, too. It seems Giants fans grumble when Dyson is brought into a game now, although overall he’s been pretty good.
What Went Right: It’s absolutely baffling that the left-hander was still available as teams arrived in camp. All Watson has done in his first year in San Francisco is post a 2.08 ERA, strike out more than a batter per inning and dominate the eighth inning. Watson has been especially tough on lefties, limiting them to a .227 batting average and just one extra base hit.
What Went Wrong: Just about nothing until Watson’s final two appearances, when he allowed runs in both games and gave up a game-deciding homer to Mark Canha. It should also be noted that the coaching staff — without saying so publicly — seemed to keep an especially close eye on his workload.
What Went Right: Melancon has a 2.40 ERA since coming off the disabled list and his stuff took a noticeable tick up in the last couple weeks. His cutter regularly hit 92-93 in his final few appearances, a good sign for the second half. He hasn’t appeared to have any notable issues with his pronator since an early-season injection.
What Went Wrong: A right elbow flexor strain cost Melancon the first 56 games of the season and he still has not thrown in back to back games. It’s a small sample, but righties are batting .282 against him. Also, the strikeout rate (6.6) is a career-low.
What Went Right: With a 98 mph fastball and improved slider, Moronta looks like a future closer. He posted a 1.93 ERA and 1.02 WHIP, with more than a strikeout an inning. He’s been equally tough on lefties (.132 ) and righties (.148.) He has held hitters to a .200 average with runners in scoring position.
What Went Wrong: Moronta walked 23 batters in 42 innings, and he tends to struggle with his command early in his appearances. Until he fixes that flaw, the staff won’t fully trust him to pitch in the last couple innings of a game.
What Went Right: Did you remember that Ty Blach started for this team on opening day. No matter how his career goes, that’ll always be a highlight. Blach pitched well for the first month or so but eventually lost his rotation spot. He’s been a versatile piece in the bullpen, with a 3.51 ERA in 17 relief appearances.
What Went Wrong: There’s not a lot of deception here. Righties are hitting him at a .306 clip and lefties are at .295, and on days when he can’t keep the ball down, he gets knocked around. As nice as that opening day start was, Blach wasn’t able to keep his spot, and it seems he’s now seventh or eighth on the starting depth chart.
hat Went Right: He was having a pretty good run as closer, saving 13 of his first 16 appearances with a 2.01 ERA through June 17. Even with a blowup in his final outing, he had a 2.84 ERA and proved capable of handling a heavy workload. The slider, revamped in the offseason, is certainly better than it’s been in the past.
What Went Wrong: Well, he punched a door. A fractured metacarpal suffered after that fourth blown save will keep him out until the middle of August, and it may be hard for him to win back the trust of Giants fans and some in the organization after this latest incident. It’s also hard to see him getting his ninth-inning job back.
Recapping the Rest
The Giants had 24 players throw a pitch for them — including Pablo Sandoval.
What Went Right: Ray Black has finally stayed healthy, and he hit 101 in his first week in the big leagues, rebounding from a rough debut with three dominant outings. He had six strikeouts in his first three innings as a big leaguer ... Up until the final week of the first half, Chris Stratton led this staff in innings pitched. A lot of them early on were good. Stratton had a 2.32 ERA through his first five starts and had another strong five-start stretch in June … Look, Sandoval counts as a pitcher, and he threw a perfect inning his only time out.
What Went Wrong: Do you remember D.J. Snelten, Jose Valdez and Roberto Gomez pitching for this team? None of them stuck … Josh Osich and Derek Law were up early and both had ERAs above seven … Tyler Beede got a look but struggled, and he’s now pitching out of the bullpen in Triple-A … Pierce Johnson looked great in the spring but has a 5.75 ERA in 36 big league innings … Cory Gearrin struggled to match his past success and his salary was dumped on the Rangers.