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8.28.2006

For Starters 

Other than Jason Schmidt's Wednesday afternoon poochfest against the D-Backs last week, the Giants' starting pitching has been on a fine run. Six quality starts in seven games, let's call it, even though Brad Hennessey on Friday night only went five innings. I'm feeling charitable.

Let's also put things in perspective. Even with the recent surge, Giant starters are not even the best rotation in the NL West. Measured by The Hardball Times's win shares, that distinction goes to Colorado, but the Giants qualify for second in the league. Colorado doesn't have an ace to match Jason Schmidt but its top three, Jennings, Cook, and Francis, have been clearly better than the rest of the Giant starters.

To be fair, THT doesn't include Brad Hennessey as a starter. His pitching win shares are 2.3 points higher than Jamey Wright's, which should add at least a few blips to the Giants' total. (Also note rotation win shares aren't just for the current starters; they include players who have left the club or are no longer starting, such as Odalis Perez and his -0.6 share for the Dodgers. So take these measurements with a grain of salt.)

Doing some thumbnail calculations for the American League, it seems several clubs have better rotation numbers than the Giants. The obvious ones are Detroit, Minnesota and Oakland, but others aren't so obvious: the White Sox, the Yankees, and the Angels.

But the Giants are definitely at the top of the National League, along with Colorado, and if current trends hold up, probably the hottest rotation heading into the stretch run. What this means: well, nothing definitively, but it could make the Giants dangerous in the post-season. A nice burst of pitching a few timely hits could get the Giants farther than anyone would bet on. The more the rotation can keep the bullpen off the mound, the better the team's chances.

And if the National League is a tepid pool of milquetoasty blandness as all the pundits say, why not imagine a crazy, careening, high-on-ether run through the NL playoffs that's fun while it lasts until the Great Red Shark plows harmlessly into a sand dune and the passengers all stagger out, dazed and wondering how the hell they even got this far.

Maybe, just maybe those tickets I have for late September will be worth the paper they're printed on.

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