Injuries have forced the San Francisco Giants to rush Michael Kickham to the majors, and it could be hurting the rookie’s confidence.
Kickham gave up seven runs in just two and two-thirds innings against the Cincinnati Reds Monday. The Reds’ hitters seemed to take advantage of every opportunity they got, racking up nine hits in the short span. The 25-year-old southpaw left countless pitches over the heart of the plate and simply does not appear to be ready to tackle MLB hitters. It is his third rough outing in as many tries. His ERA now sits at 13.94.
The Giants lost Ryan Vogelsong to a fractured hand at the end of May, and his replacement, Chad Gaudin, is currently on the 15-day disabled list as well. Vogelsong threw for the first time since the injury Monday, but still needs time to get strength back in his hand. He had a 7.19 ERA before the injury so it’s not like he was a huge loss when it happened.
Outside of their fifth starter spot, the Giants have four pitchers who have yet to miss a start in Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Barry Zito and Tim Lincecum. Bumgarner has been the best of all of them, posting a 3.08 ERA and 1.00 WHIP this season. Lincecum hasn’t been nearly the type of pitcher the Giants had hoped he might be after two spectacular seasons in 2008 and 2009. He has 41 walks in 95 innings and a less than impressive 4.64 ERA.
The Giants may have to consider adding more starting-pitching depth if the bottom of their rotation can’t get it figured out. Their pitching was one of the biggest reasons they were able to win the World Series last season. Zito and Lincecum gave them exceptional outings in the postseason, but they don’t appear to be at the same level currently. Their current starter’s ERA of 4.47 has them ranked 24th in the majors.
They’re certainly not that far out of their division race, but then again, who isn’t in the National League West? The Giants trail the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks by just three games, but they have to be more effective as a pitching staff if they hope to make a run at a repeat.