In a 2013 season that was chock full of injuries and surprising struggles, just one Giants starting pitcher was reliable– Madison Bumgarner. Beyond that, the once-almost-unhittable rotation was unimpressive, and at times hard to watch. There’s no question that reaching two World Series in three years took a toll on many of the pitchers’ arms, and the overall health of the team. The extra games and shorter offseasons weren’t without their ill effects, and the extra time the Giants had this offseason might make all the difference. With the departure of Barry Zito, the addition of MLB veteran Tim Hudson, and the returns of Ryan Vogelsong, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Bumgarner, the Giants rotation will attempt to get back to the level of play that is capable of taking the team to the post-season.
2014 San Francisco Giants – Pitching Staff Preview
His 2.77 ERA in 2013 was eighth in the majors as Bumgarner quietly became the ace of the Giants staff. He had one of the best years of his career, but could do very little to boost a team that was being dragged down by the rest of the rotation. Bum finished with 13 wins, 199 strikeouts and a 1.033 WHIP. Unlike Lincecum, Bumgarner has proven to have incredible composure on and off the field, and he hasn’t shown any signs of losing focus. After three impressive seasons, there is no reason to believe Bumgarner will slow down anytime soon. He should be targeted as a low-risk first-tier starter.
Projected 2014 Stats: 15 W, 1.10 WHIP, 200 K, 2.90 ERA
While 2013 certainly wasn’t his best year, Cain did a lot in the second half of the season to help ease the concerns of onlookers who had been confused by his rough start to the year. He still finished the season with a 4.0 ERA, 8-10 record, 1.156 WHIP and 158 strikeouts, despite losing some of his season to injury. His 2013 ERA was the worst of his career, but was skewed largely by a rough start that he corrected later in the year. Cain is still the talented workhorse he was two years ago and, like the rest of the staff, the longer offseason is key to Cain staying strong throughout the season. You should considered Cain to be top-25 starting pitcher in the 2014 draft.
Projected 2014 Stats: 13 W, 1.081 WHIP, 170 K, 3.30 ERA
The roller coaster ride that has been Tim Lincecum’s career almost careened off the track after the 2012 season. Luckily, with the help of an emotional no-hitter in July 2013 and several other strong performances, he convinced the Giants not to give up on him yet. He finished the 2013 season with a 10-14 record, a 1.315 WHIP, 193 strikeouts and a 4.37 ERA, but he got much smarter about the game and focused more on preparation, realizing his raw talent was no longer enough. After a rough 2012, Lincecum was able to reacquire some control and command, while bringing his ERA and WHIP down. The addition of veteran Tim Hudson could help Lincecum continue to improve and mature. The Giants rotation has never featured such a talented veteran pitcher who is able to give Lincecum advice on maintaining composure and finding focus, something he has struggled with. I see Lincecum as a risky pick with a ton of upside who could end up having a surprisingly strong season.
Projected 2014 Stats: 12 W, 1.364 WHIP, 195 K, 3.81 ERA
Hudson broke his ankle in gruesome fashion last season with the Braves, and the biggest question heading into 2014 is whether or not he will be able to return to full strength. He was pitching well leading to his injury, and his 2013 ended with a 1.18 WHIP, 95 strikeouts, 8 wins, and a 3.97 ERA over 21 games. AT&T Park should be a welcome venue for Hudson, and his veteran status will help him make him the instant leader of a relatively young pitching staff. There are a lot of unknowns for Hudson in 2014 as he tries to come back from his injury and pitch on a new staff. Those unknowns, together with his age, make him hard to draft in standard leagues but worth keeping an eye on as the season starts. If he’s healthy and adjusts well to the orange and black, he could have a strong year.
Projected 2014 Stats: 11 W, 1.30 WHIP, 110 K, 3.90 ERA
The Giants resident journeyman is coming off a tough year in which he pitched poorly and missed much of the season to a wrist injury. Over 19 games last season, he finished with a 4-6 record, a 5.73 ERA, 67 strikeouts and a 1.563 WHIP. The 36-year-old Vogelsong does not have age on his side as he tries to rebound in 2014, but he’s reportedly lost weight and got in better shape in the offseason. He’s clearly aware that his physical fitness could be the difference-maker in terms of both health and performance in 2014. He should benefit from a longer off-season than he’s had in recent years, and he could be a strong fifth starter for the Giants. That said, you shouldn’t be considering Vogelsong on draft day.
Projected 2014 Stats: 9 W, 1.40 WHIP, 125 K, 4.00 ERA
Since the departure of Brian Wilson, Sergio Romo has been the golden boy in the bullpen for the San Francisco Giants. In 2013, he recorded 38 saves in 43 opportunities with a 1.077 WHIP, 2.54 ERA, 5-8 record and 58 strikeouts. His numbers could get a boost in 2014 from more stability around him, especially if Jeremy Affeldt can stay healthy and the starting rotation can get back to their 2012 numbers. I expect a similar year in terms of performance from Romo, who is certainly worth drafting as a top-10 closer in one of the later rounds.
Projected 2014 Stats: 35 saves, 2.62 ERA, 60 K, 1.15 WHIP, 4 W
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