Barry Zito's Continued Struggles Highlights San Francisco Giants' Need For Pitching

By Thom Tsang
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Sorry, Tim Lincecum, your historic no-hitter might have provided a temporary bastion to shield the San Francisco Giants from a mostly disappointing season thus far, but it does not truly solve the problem.

And the problem is the team’s starting pitching.

In fact, there might be no better reminder of this for the 43-51 defending World Series champs than Barry Zito, the redemption story-going-wrong in 2013 who stepped up to the plate knowing that it would take a miracle to follow what the Freak did one night prior … and delivered an absolute clunker almost right on cue.

Lasting just two-plus innings, the veteran gave up four runs on four hits and two walks, setting up what ended up being a 10-1 rout at the hands of the San Diego Padres. Normally, you’d have to think that Zito would have been given a bit of a longer leash through just 41 pitches, but considering that three of those four hits were home runs, perhaps manager Bruce Bochy was just doing him a favour.

Now if only the lefty would do himself a or his team one … maybe they wouldn’t be in fourth place in the NL West right now.

Remember that improbable/incredible winning streak that the Giants was on whenever Zito took the mound? That’s distant history now, as the team is just 1-7 in his last eight turns, with the lefty carrying a personal four-game losing streak. As he’s given up four or more runs in five of those outings, it’s not hard to see why either.

Whether it’s his ERA, BAA or WHIP, all of Zito’s numbers have been rising in the worst way, and as he’d lasted more than four innings just once in the last three turns, you might even say that it’s starting to get out of control.

The timing of this start following Lincecum’s no-no too is a bit of a shame, but perhaps this misstep going to the break will drive home the point to the Giants’ head brass that their focus should be on acquiring a starting pitcher rather than hoping for the occasional big game.

Outside of Madison Bumgarner, the fact is that he San Francisco rotation is a bunch of landmines. This is true even (or especially because) of ace Matt Cain, who has been a disaster in his last two turns — a disappointing end to his pre-break season considering that he’d come off two strong months.

With the Los Angeles Dodgers having made a move already to acquire Ricky Nolasco (and you’d have to assume they’re not done there), the onus is on the defending champs to do … something.

It could be Matt Garza, Bud Norris (who wants to play in San Fran anyway) or even Cliff Lee, but without an arm to bolster the situation, the Giants’ rotation remains a void dragging the team down with a lack of reliability; and as we’ve seen with Zito recently, not even a no-hitter can even out that kind of damage done.

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