SF Giants preview: The rotation

This first appears over at TortureCast.com

Photo via NBC

Well here we are. The 2015 San Francisco Giants season is upon us. I thought I’d take this time to preview the season and throw out some predictions. I’m sure you’ve read the “big boy” publications and what they forecast for the season so I’m not going to even mention the fact that none of them are giving the Giants a chance to do big things this season.

Nope. Won’t mention it at all. That whole odd year thing? I won’t mention that either.

Since I tend to get wordy and long-winded I’m going to break this up in to 3 different parts. This one is all about the starting rotation, next will be the regular lineup, and finally I’ll close with the bullpen/bench players. I’m cheating a little bit because I’m trying to give the Giants some time to make their final roster decisions. The longer I put off the bench/bullpen, the better chance there is that we will actually know who’s made the cut.

I also want to note that I don’t have 2015 projections up for the guys. I’m sure Ben Lee or Chad King may have something like that, but not me. It’s not that I hate all the new stats, I’m just not the guy that’s going to give them to you. Think of me as the scout type that is holding on to the eye test, even if it’s to my own detriment. Also, I’m throwing out all the spring stats because frankly, they are ugly.
So without further ado, I present part 1, the starting rotation.

Madison Bumgarner
2014: 18-10, 2.98 ERA, 33 Starts, 4 CG, 2 SHO, 43 BB, 219 K, 217.1 IP

The ace of the staff. What more can be said about the job he did for the Giants in 2014? Well, probably volumes of work, but that’s not what I’m here for today. The biggest question mark is how Bumgarner will respond this season after compiling 270 total innings between the regular season and playoffs a year ago. His previous high was 2012 when he tossed 223.1 innings. He followed that with just over 200 innings in 2013 while posting his lowest career ERA (2.77) in 31 starts.

Do we know what to expect? Well, kind of. I mean it is Madison Bumgarner. The guy is just different than most of us mere mortals. I can’t chop down a tree in a less than a minute and neither can you. He’s going to be fine and I expect him to once again lead this staff. I expect him to be in contention for the NL Cy Young Award and will write that every season until his arm falls off.

Jake Peavy
2014 (with Giants): 6-4, 2.17 ERA, 12 Starts, 17 BB, 58 K, 78.2 IP

Can you believe the only game the Giants won during last year’s run that Jake Peavy started was Game 1 of the NLDS? I was surprised to see that.  Not that he was horrible during the playoffs. OK, he kinda was, but for 1 game he was pretty good. This is not the same pitcher that won a Cy Young Award back in 2007 while pitching for the Padres. In fact, before being traded to the Giants, Peavy was struggling with the Red Sox. His ERA was a robust 4.72 and he had a 1.42 WHIP. Reuniting with Bruce Bochy and hooking up with pitching coach Dave Righetti really helped turn him around last year.

I have no idea if we’ll see the same kind of production that Peavy showed down the stretch last year. The Giants showed some faith by signing him to a 2-year $24 million contract. He’ll be 34 years old at the end of May and his best days are probably behind him. You may think $24 million is too much, personally I have no qualms with it. Then again I don’t care what players get paid anymore. All salaries are ridiculous. I digress. The point is, if Peavy is to have a successful season, all he has to do is keep the game within reach until the bullpen takes over.

Tim Hudson
2014: 9-13, 3.57 ERA, 31 Starts, 1 CG, 34 BB, 120 K, 189.1 IP

After starting last season off like the 2003 version of himself, Tim Hudson came back to earth and had a so-so season. He wasn’t great, but he wasn’t horrible. The soon-to-be 40 year old right hander is the oldest member of the club and won his first World Series title last season. Remember, he was the starting pitcher in Game 7. In fact, he is the oldest pitcher ever to start a Game 7.

At the beginning of January, Hudson had surgery to remove some bone spurs from his ankle. This could be his final season in the majors. I have no idea what to expect from Hudson except that he will give it everything he has this season. Hopefully his body doesn’t betray him and we get a victory lap type season out of Hudson.

Matt Cain
2014: 2-7, 4.18 ERA, 15 Starts, 32 BB, 70 K, 90.1 IP

Last season was an injury plagued one for Matt Cain. He had 3 separate stints on the DL with the last one ending his season after the All-Star Break. He had surgery to remove bone chips in his right elbow. What’s with these guys and bone chips? Anyway, we don’t really know what to expect from him this season.

During Cactus League play Cain’s breaking stuff looked like it did in the past. Hopefully he’s not worried about that elbow and will let it fly. Like I said, we don’t know what to expect from the longest tenured Giant, we can just hope for the best.

Tim Lincecum
2014: 12-9, 4.74 ERA, 26 Starts, 33 Games, 63 BB, 134 k, 155.2 IP
Our old friend Tim Lincecum is the back end of the Giants rotation this season. He’s coming off another year in which he struggled. So much so that he was relegated to the bullpen at the end of August and spent the entire playoff run there. This was just a few months after throwing his second career no-hitter against the Padres.

What to expect from Lincecum in 2015? Who knows? It feels like I’m writing that for every pitcher but Bumgarner. Expect Lincecum to have the shortest hook of any of the guys in the rotation. Ryan Vogelsong is waiting in the wings if someone falters. As the spring progressed, Lincecum looked pretty good so although he’s probably not the same Timmy of old, maybe he’s primed to regain some of his old form. Or maybe he’ll fall off a cliff again. Hopefully not.

I’ll be back to look at the regulars, and then the bullpen/bench guys. Forget about all the odd year stuff, it’s almost time for some Giants baseball.