2013 Giants ZiPS Projections – Pitchers

(Flickr/sjsharktank)

A week ago, I tackled the hitters. Now it’s the pitchers’ turn. For the pitching staff I’ll be guessing whether they’ll be UNDER or OVER their projected ERA+.

Matt Cain: 125 ERA+ in 2012, projected 121 ERA+ in 2013. What is there to say about Matt Cain? He’s the rock of the staff, the unquestioned team ace. He’s the Opening Day starter. He’s gotten better each of the last three seasons, and in 2012 posted a career high in strikeouts and a career low in walks. He’s never made fewer than 31 starts in any full season, or thrown less than 190 innings. I’ll confidently predict the OVER on his projection.

Madison Bumgarner: 103 ERA+ in 2012, projected 112 ERA+ in 2013. Madison looked great for about three-quarters of the season before fading badly. It’s easy to find the problem start, too. From the beginning of his season through his August 20th start, Bumgarner was 14-7 with a 2.83 ERA in 171.2 innings, with 160 strikeouts and 32 walks. In that start, he threw 123 pitches in 8 innings of work, and the Giants would beat the Dodgers 2-1. But Bumgarner was a different pitcher after that game, going 2-4 with a 5.89 ERA, with 31 strikeouts and 17 walks in 36.2 innings, and he struggled in the postseason as well. I guess the point of this little exercise is, don’t let your 23-year-old pitchers throw 123 pitches in a game. Bumgarner’s a big guy, and I think in the long run he won’t be any worse for wear, but I’d really like to see that kind of scenario avoided in the future. As for his projection, I’ll take the UNDER, with the caveat that I think just barely under, somewhere in the 108-110 range.

Tim Lincecum: 67 ERA+ in 2012, projected 98 ERA+ in 2013. I would say Lincecum is the lynchpin to a successful 2013 season, but he was spectacularly unsuccessful in 2012 and look at how that turned out. Still, a return to form from Lincecum would be a welcome sight. ZiPS sees somewhat of a bounceback season for him, with a 3.67 ERA and decent peripherals (24.3% K%, 9.8% BB%) I’ll optimistically predict the OVER, somewhere around 105.

Ryan Vogelsong: 103 ERA+ in 2012, projected 98 ERA+ in 2013. Vogelsong’s 3.37 ERA in 2012 marked a significant increase over his 2.71 ERA in 2011, but his peripherals actually looked better in 2012, and he had a higher fWAR in 2012 (although a lower bWAR). Call it a push. Either way, ZiPS projects a very slight regression for Vogelsong in 2013, but nothing out of line for a 35-year-old pitcher. This is a tough one, but I’ll take the UNDER, and predict something around a 95 ERA+.

Barry Zito: 84 ERA+ in 2012, projected 84 ERA+ in 2013. That’s about right. 2012 was a major redemption year for Zito, but that had more to do with his postseason heroics than anything else. Zito is what he is at this point: an extremely expensive 5th starter. Luckily for the Giants, that albatross of a contract comes off the books after the 2013 season. Until then, we can look forward to another 180 innings of well-below-average pitching. I’m going to predict the UNDER on that projection, unfortunately.

Bullpen: I’m going to run through the projections quickly, and then comment on them as a group. Sergio Romo: 161 ERA+; Santiago Casilla: 108 ERA+; Jose Mijares: 107 ERA+; Jeremy Affeldt: 105 ERA+; Javier Lopez: 104 ERA+; George Kontos: 94 ERA+. Yeah, these guys are going to be good. I’d take the over on that Kontos projection, as well. As I’ve been over more than once, this bullpen will be expensive to be sure, but they are going to be good. For the record, I’d take the over of Affeldt, Kontos, and Romo, and the under on Casilla, Mijares, and Lopez.

Others of note: Mike Kickham: 81 ERA+; Eric Surkamp: 82 ERA+ (out until July with Tommy John surgery); Brett Bochy: 100 ERA+; Heath Hembree: 95 ERA+; Chad Gaudin: 88 ERA+.

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