Home News The SF Giants’ starters could be this team’s fatal flaw

The SF Giants’ starters could be this team’s fatal flaw


SAN FRANCISCO — Every team in baseball needs to figure out a way to pitch at least 1,400 innings a season.

Starters, openers, relievers, closers, bulk and mop-up guys must all add up to that big number.

And as we enter June, it’s hard to see how the Giants will get to that number without lighting their bullpen on fire.

The Giants are operating with four starting pitchers at the moment. They can only trust one to provide a quality outing whenever he takes the mound.

The result of short numbers and short leashes? So far this season, Giants starters have only thrown 280.1 innings. That’s fewer than five innings a start. Sure, there’s an opener or two in there, messing up the data, but you can’t skew the second-lowest starter output in baseball. It’s already 60 innings behind the National League-leading Phillies.

Of course, last season, the Giants were last in baseball in innings thrown by starting pitchers. The three teams above them in that stat were the Athletics, Rockies, and Red Sox — all three were last-place teams, two 100-loss operations.

But this season was supposed to be different.

At best, it’s the same result via a different path.

The Giants’ starting pitching had to improve going into this season. It looked like it did for a while, but now, the situation seems dire.

Sure, Logan Webb is out there going deep into games, but one man does not make a rotation. Entering Friday’s series with the Yankees, the second-most-trustworthy pitcher on the Giants was not the reigning National League Cy Young winner, Blake Snell, or super-prospect Kyle Harrison — it was converted reliever Jordan Hicks.

And in that game, Hicks further called into question if he could continue in that role.

The cracks started showing up a few weeks ago, but they’re undeniable now.

Hicks, the one-time 100-mile-per-hour flamethrower, signed with San Francisco because he wanted to start games, and he changed his arsenal to better fit that role. Gone was the heavy heat, and in came a sinker, splitter, sweeper mix that might not have touched triple-digits but carried plenty of velocity and even more movement. The result was a brilliant first month of the season — he had a 1.59 ERA after 34 innings.

And while that ERA didn’t balloon in May, it is up to 2.70 — he allowed four runs in 5.1 innings Friday against the Yankees — and he’s only been good for those five innings for the past month.

Is this manageable for the Giants? Acceptable, even? Absolutely.

If Hicks was a No. 4 or No. 5 starter, that is.

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