The Giants boast two of the top starting pitchers in fantasy baseball, although before Tim Lincecum's struggles, they once had an excellent triumvirate that lead them to the playoffs and World Series victory.
Starting Pitching Rotation Analysis
San Francisco Giants
Potential Rotation Alternatives
ADP designated by * indicates no reported ADP as of date of publication. Projections are based on a compilation of several sources (ZiPS, Oliver, Steamer, RotoChamp), given equal weight.
Matt Cain is the ace of the Giants' staff, although he did suffer through a lackluster 2013. His HR/9 rate and HR/FB% were both elevated above his career norms last season (1.1 and 10.8% respectively), and that can be seen as outlier statistics. A bounce back to career norms would make Cain a huge value, given that his ADP is at the lowest it's been in years.
Madison Bumgarner is, in my opinion, one of the top 5 starting pitchers in all of baseball. The lefty is having an excellent spring, and he posted career best statistics in his 2013 season, with a 2.77 ERA and 1.03 WHIP, together with an 8.9 K/9 and an excellent 0.7 HR/9. The projections call for a bit of an ERA regression and perhaps a slightly lower strikeout rate, but he has earned the honor of pitching Opening Day for the Giants, and should be challenging Cain for the role as ace of the staff.
Suffering from a drop in fastball velocity over the past two seasons is worrisome for Tim Lincecum owners, topping out at just over 90 MPH in 2013, but he is still posting very good strikeout numbers (8.79/9) despite his struggles to locate his pitches. Naysayers during his Cy Young worthy years often pointed to his pitching motion as unsustainable, and they seemed to be validated with poor performances in 2012 and parts of 2013. Fixing his mechanics and locating his pitches better will result in a performance boost, which evidently the Giants believe is possible, given that he was given a new 2 year contract this winter.
Signing Tim Hudson this winter was a wise move for San Francisco, as they can slot him in as the number three or four starter, wind him up and let him post his usual stellar peripherals. Of course, it is necessary to realize Hudson will never give his owners a huge boost in strikeouts, relying on generating groundballs instead. His 2013 ended with an ankle injury, and recovery from that has pushed back his conditioning to an extent, but all reports are that he is healthy and ready to take his position in the rotation. If he can maintain the improved K/9 rate he put up in 2013 (6.5) and keep his BB/9 rate at about 2.4 or 2.5, he should be a fine late round selection to round out your pitching staff.
Ryan Vogelsong returned from Japan in 2011 to surprise, in a pleasant fashion, many fantasy players who left him undrafted and had to scramble to add him from free agency. He continued his success the next season, before seeing the wheels fall off the cart in 2013, where he had an awful 7.19 ERA until getting hit in the hand while bunting and residing on the disabled list for a couple of months. He was better on his return, but still not relevant for fantasy purposes. At 36, he is getting up there in age, and his fastball is losing velocity, topping out at 89 MPH. If he stumbles, expect the next pitcher in our discussion to get a shot in the rotation.
Yusmeiro Petit acquitted himself well during his late 2013 audition, going 48 innings and putting up a respectable 3.56 ERA and 1.19 WHIP as well as striking out 47 batters and only handing out 11 walks. This season could see him start in Triple-A, but there is no official word yet. If one of the five projected starters goes down with an injury, expect Petit to receive the call to rejoin the rotation.
The Giants are set with a veteran rotation to carry them into 2014. They have what they believe a capable starting pitcher in Petit to fill any gaps that arise, and have to be as secure with their starting corps as any team can be these injury prone days in baseball.
If you disagree with my assessments, or just want to discuss starting pitching, I can be reached at email@example.com. I enjoy comments and am more than willing to engage in discussion about fantasy baseball, so feel free to write.