After Sunday’s loss, the San Francisco Giants are sitting at the rock bottom of the NL West with a dismal 52-65 record. The season is over and at this point the club is playing purely for its pride. Today’s loss looks ugly on paper, as the Giants fell 10-2. However, it is important to consider that seven of those runs were given up after Matt Cain came out of the game. The bullpen has been especially atrocious recently and has given up multiple late leads in three consecutive series’. In the home opener against the Orioles, the Giants were able to tie the game up after rallying in the eighth and ninth innings. This proved fruitless as Chris Davis launched a go-ahead two run double in the tenth to eventually win the game.
Despite these ongoing problems, there is one positive trend that has manifested since the start of August. The rotation has finally begun to steady itself and has consistently improved with each start. Cain still sits at the top of the Giants’ staff and has led the way as the club’s workhorse. In his last three starts, Cain has gone eight, seven, and seven innings deep. Despite only earning one win, Cain has not given up more than three runs in any of his last three starts.
Bumgarner has kept up his strong season with two back to back quality starts. First was a gem against the Tampa Bay Rays where he pitched seven innings, along with eleven punch-outs. Unfortunately, his second August start was spoiled by a complete lack of run support. Despite going another seven innings while only giving up three earned runs, Bumgarner took the loss against the Milwaukee Brewers that day. Bumgarner and Cain have both suffered due to lackluster run support, which has in turn blemished an otherwise dominant August.
Lincecum followed up his no-hitter by getting absolutely shelled by the Cincinnati Reds. Since then, however, he has seemingly regained his former Cy-Young self. August has been more than kind to Lincecum, as he has pitched 15 total innings of one run ball. Against the Rays he went seven innings strong while only giving up a single run. This was not enough to earn him the win, as the Giants once again failed to provide the necessary run support. In his next start Lincecum made sure that a lack of offense would not deny him the win. The Freak pitched eight innings, while only giving up one hit amongst eight strikeouts. This vintage performance lowered Lincecum’s season ERA to 4.18 and earned him his sixth win of the year.
On Friday, August 9, Ryan Vogelsong made his long awaited return after finally coming off the 60-day disabled list. He pitched six solid innings of two-run ball; more importantly, Vogelsong showed that his throwing hand had recovered without any setbacks. The Giants ended up losing in the tenth inning, but having the veteran right-hander back in the rotation is a win in itself.
Chad Gaudin has inexplicably locked down the fifth spot in the rotation and has completely made it his own. At first Gaudin was only supposed to be a spot starter for the injured Vogelsong. Now he owns an impressive 2.42 ERA, which is the lowest amongst the entire starting rotation. Gaudin has not earned a win in August, but has pitched two solid games for his clubhouse. Against the Brewers, Gaudin went 6.1 innings deep with eight strikeouts. Then, against the Orioles, he pitched five innings without giving up a single earned run. At this point it clearly isn’t luck; Gaudin has earned his spot in the rotation and deserves much more recognition for what he has accomplished.
It may be too little too late, but the Giants’ starting rotation has finally regained stability. With a one-two punch of Cain and Bumgarner, a resurgent Lincecum, and a solid back end featuring Vogelsong and Gaudin, the Giants can actually breath a sigh of relief for the first time in months. This may very well come crashing down, but Giants fans should be grateful for this turn of events. The offense and bullpen have both stunk it up in August; had either performed slightly better, the Giants could be in the midst of a small winning streak. Like the rest of the season, however, the Giants are simply incapable of putting it all together at the same time. Hopefully the rotation can sustain this success and put the Giants in a position to end the season .500.