If The Giants Rock This Season, It Will Be Because Of Barry Zito

Barry Zito

The San Francisco Giants have a very highly touted rotation of 2008 Cy Young Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Randy Johnson, Barry Zito, and Jonathan Sanchez.

The Giants were a surprise in 2007 ending up with a 72-90 when many thought that the team was guaranteed to lose a hundred games. A lot of the team’s success was attributed to the awesomeness of Tim Lincecum and his .783 win percentage.

Matt Cain’s record should have been a lot better, and there’s no doubt that his 8-14 was no indicative of his talent considering his 3.76 ERA and almost eight strikeouts a game. Jonathan Sanchez showed flashes of brilliance in June, which almost immediately started chants of San Francisco’s version of the Oakland Athletics early 2000’s Big Three.

But Sanchez seems to be a four-to-five inning pitcher that might make him a relief pitcher (set-up or closer) sooner than later if he can’t “get it together.”

For all the crap that Barry Zito gets for signing the mammoth contract he did, it should be worth noting that Zito did improve upon his disastrous 2007 season. His numbers don’t show it (11-13, 4.53 ERA in 2007 versus 10-17, 5.15 ERA in 2008), Zito was more relaxed and attempted to adapt his pitching style to be more successful.

The reality for 2008 is that no one expects much from Zito in 2009. You can pretty much pencil in 10 wins and a 4.50 ERA. He would be key to the team’s success because any improvement would be super beneficial. You can pretty much lock in Lincecum, Cain, and Johnson to have pretty solid years. If Zito were to produce, he wouldn’t be a “lock” to be just a fourth starter nor would he drag the team’s morale by stressing the offense and bullpen.

The team’s offense is already pretty anemic, especially with many more seasoned rookies in the lineup so it will be up to the team’s pitching (hopefully with a less chaotic Brian Wilson as closer) to bridge the gap.

[photo via Scott Ableman]

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