Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Player Preview -- The Pitchers

My final posting that will preview the ol' ballclub (the previous two being The Infielders and The Outfielders) visits the strength of the team: The Pitchers

(more below the fold)

The Rotation -- Tim Lincecum/Jonathan Sanchez/Matt Cain/Barry Zito/Madison Bumgarner --

Timmy is now at a place in where the league has gotten plenty of film on him, plenty of scouting reports on him, and plenty of strategies on how to take him.  And still, the only things that can stand in the way of complete and utter dominance are mechanics and health.  He's not a diva, and, aside from a very high profile possesion charge, he's relatively free of controversy.  Assuming he stays healthy, because he is a fit dude, Timmy Lincecum should get 18-22 wins, keep his ERA under 2.5 and lead the league in K's.

Sanchie developed a sinker over the offseason.  He's hit his stride and he's playing for his first real contract.  And though he is prone to walk a few (a few hundred -- A HAHAHA!), a sinker fastball should get him out of more jams with a double play. 

Matt Cain has been the work horse of the rotation since he was the next guy.  I'd take 5 Matt Cains for a starting rotation--power, stamina, composure, and grit.  The guy is like Rooster Cogburn, only, you know, young.  I'm expecting 20 out of him some time, and a Cy Young season.  Why not make it this one?

Z ..... well, what hasn't been said about Z?  Finally, he's in a spot in the rotation that he should be in.  Out of the 4th position, Z will get 2 or 3 more wins early on.  Which is nice.  I'd like him to be .500, maybe 11-11? 

Maddy is going to be on a leash.  A fairly long leash, but a leash nonetheless.  Don't be surprised to see an early exit if he loads the bases in the 4th a few times, and don't be surprised to see him pulled after 7 even if he's up 2-0 or 3-1.  Bochy wants Maddy to last the year, and I don't blame him.  The guy pitched lights out into November last year, and he's probably going to take a few starts to get into a good head space early on.

Bottom line is the rotation is in a better position than its ever been in, including last year.  I'd expect them to go 72-45 with an ERA in the high 3's or low 4's.  Which only leaves maybe about 20 wins that  the boys would have to get from ......

The Bullpen -- Brian Wilson/Sergio Romo/Jeremy Affeldt/Javier Lopez/Santiago Casilla/Guillermo Mota/Ramon Ramirez --

The bullpen is always so damn spotty in any given year for any given team.  Luckily, B-Weezy is young, so he is a few years from major break down.  Although this oblique thing is mildly concerning.  Still, Weez is straight up power pitcher, with a snapper that just gives the hitters to think about. 

Fact is, whereas some closers are good for a few years until people figure out their sliders or changeups, Weez just plain throws hard. When he is no longer as good as he is now, it'll be because injury takes 5 MPHs off his fastball or the entire league catches up with him.  This year, injuries may be a little more likely considering the guy's bulk and regular back troubles, but he's still young enough to figure he can rebound from his current ails.

The rest of the  bullpen is going to be interchangeable, Mota and Casilla are regularly hit and miss, but they don't have prolonged slumps.  Lopez will be good until he gets hurt.  I was ready to give up on Affeldt, but Game 6 of the NLCS has pretty much injected him into my heart like I was the OD'ing wife of a gangster and he was a shot of epinephrine. 

The keys here are going to be Romo and Ramirez because those are going to be the go-to guys.  Romo, as the regular set-up man, will be asked to take the ball with one out and runners on 2nd and 3rd to preserve a one-run game.  Last year, after July, he truly stepped up in these situations.  Now that he's a bit more seasoned, I'd like to see him not cough up games in April and May the way that he did a couple times last year.

Ramirez is going to be the 10-win middle reliever.  Once a week, one of the kids in  the rotation is going to exit a tied game in fifth or sixth inning, and the bullpen is going to be asked to get about 8 guys out to give the club a chance to turn the lineup over and score a few.  The others in the 'Pen will get this call almost as much as Ramirez, but Ramirez is the only one that will be expected to consistently hold the opponents. 

I don't have a whole lot of trust in him, as he is still new to me.  But, he is a professional and he is good at what he does, so for now we'll have to give him the benefit of the doubt, if not fully cede our trust and faith over to him.

All in all, Ramirez will hopefully have 10 wins, Weezy's gonna get 3-5, Casilla/Mota should combine for 10-12 and the rest should combine at 5-ish.

That makes the boys 100-game winners, all told.  I seriously don't think that this is a stretch, but I'll give myself 5% slush on either side -- which still pins the team at 95-105 wins. 

Hooray, the Giants are the best again!

(God I love preseason)

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