Looking back on 2020, It was expected that the San Francisco Giants’ strength heading into 2021 would be their offense. The team finished fifth in batting average, edging out powerhouse lineups such as the Chicago White Sox, and defending champion Los Angeles Dodgers. On the mound, however, the team struggled in 2020. Giants pitching finished with a team ERA of 4.64, ranking 18th in the category.
So, it is a little shocking for the Giants to be ten games into the season with a team batting average of .192. “Good” for the 29th spot in baseball. Maybe more than “a little shocking” is the team’s .273 ERA, which ranks second in the league. Now, how are the Giants having so much success on the mound?
Kevin Gausman had a bounceback 2020, acting as the team’s ace. But, who else did they return? Johnny Cueto, who had a forgettable 2020, posting a 5.40 ERA. Also, Logan Webb returned to the starting rotation. However, his 5.47 ERA didn’t exactly have fans giddy with excitement. Two off-season additions were Anthony DeSclafani and Aaron Sanchez. DeSclafani posted a horrendous 7.22 ERA last year, and Sanchez, a 5.89 ERA in 2019 before missing the entire 2020 season while recovering from injury.
What Giants Pitching has Done Lately
Each starter for the Giants has had two starts. So, claiming that the reclamation project of signing “broken starters” is a success, well, it’s just too early to make that claim. But it sure is fun to talk about while it’s working. And when asked, “what have you done for us lately?” “Exceeded expectations” immediately comes to mind.
Kevin Gausman has benefited from a good ol’ change of scenery. He has not been able to post an ERA below 4.03 for any of his three prior teams. Now in his second year with the Giants, Gausman has posted a 3.19 ERA for the orange and black. Gausman impressed in his last outing vs. an explosive San Diego Padres offense, pitching seven innings of five-hit baseball, and allowing just one run. Gausman looks to continue to shine vs. the also explosive Cincinnati Reds in what will be Gausman’s home opener.
Johnny Cueto wasn’t pleased after getting pulled after just four innings of one-run ball in his first start of 2020. Cueto felt like he had more to give, and after just 63 pitches, the veteran starter had a case. Fast forward to 2021, and Cueto has thrown 223 pitches through his first two starts. This is including 118 in his last start vs. the Colorado Rockies. Cueto dazzled at home vs. Colorado, allowing just four hits and one run through 8 2/3 innings of work.
Anthony DeSclafani and Curt Casali are “reunited and it feels so good.” Former teammates in Cincinnati, the two took the field together in Giants uniforms last Sunday. DeSclafani was brilliant through six innings, not allowing a run while fanning eight Rockies. Even though DeSclafani had already thrown 94 pitches, manager Gabe Kapler made a note as to how locked-in he was. He said that he would have loved to run DeSclafani back out for the seventh, but when his time came to hit in the bottom of the sixth with the bases loaded, Kapler had no choice but to pinch-hit for his starter. DeSclafani currently sits with an ERA of 0.82 on the young season.
Sanchez, who was late to join the team and missed the entire 2020 season, is being eased into things in 2021. Through two starts, Sanchez has pitched ten innings and only thrown 140 pitches. A big question mark has been beside the name Aaron Sanchez, but he has yet to disappoint. In his last start, he got burned by a homerun. He allowed just three hits through his five innings of work, but a two-run shot by outfielder Jesse Winker proved to be the difference. Expect the leash to grow larger on Sanchez as the season continues.
Talk about high expectations out of Spring Training. Webb pitched 17 innings allowing only one run with 22 strikeouts. Webbs Spring Training performance made him a player to watch once the regular season began. His changeup was devastating and looked nearly unhittable. Unfortunately for Webb, his spring success hasn’t carried over to the regular season.
Webb has an ERA over five, allowing 15 hits in 10 1/3 innings of work. It’s easy to say someone has been unlucky rather than bad, but let’s say it anyway because Webb has been unlucky. He hasn’t looked nearly as sharp as he did in Spring Training, but he has just given up multiple ticky-tac hits in the infield. Webb needs to do a better job of mixing up his pitches, because he has looked predictable at times on the mound. Alex Wood has recovered from his injury and should be up to speed soon. Look for Webb to potentially slide into the bullpen when Wood is ready to go.
Giants Pitching Looks to Continue Hot Start
Giants pitching has been great starting off the year, and the bats are bound to heat up at some point. If the rotation can continue to exceed expectations, this Giants club will trouble opposing teams and shake things up in the NL West. The pieced-together Giants pitching staff is making Giants President Of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi look like a genius, with his flyers paying off in the very early stages of the 2021 season. Can they keep it up? Only time will tell.
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