The San Francisco Giants went into the offseason with a desire to improve their starting pitching. Bobby Evans went out and signed Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto to help shore up a staff that had trouble pitching deep into games. When asked about why the team signed the two right-handed pitchers, both were labeled as “innings eaters.”
Cueto and Samardzija have done much more than that. Along with Madison Bumgarner, all three have an ERA under three, and are a combined 20-5 in their 30 starts. These three pitchers are the main reason the Giants are in first place and have won 12 out of their last 13 games.
Through 10 starts …
Bumgarner: 6-2, 2.17 ERA, 66 1/3 innings
Cueto: 7-1, 2.38 ERA, 75 2/3 innings
Samardzija: 7-2, 2.54 ERA, 71 innings
— Alex Pavlovic (@AlexPavlovic) May 25, 2016
If you look at a pitcher’s Game Score, anything over 57 is considered excellent. For more on what Game Score is, you can refer to Beyond the Box Score here. Using Game Score to look at Giants history, no pitching staff has pitched this well through 48 games since 1969. That staff included Hall of Famers Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry. Marichal, Perry and Mike McCormick combined for 18 starts of 60 or higher in 1969. The Giants’ top three pitchers in 2016 now have 22 starts with a Game Score of 60 or higher this season. In those starts, the staff is 17-2. In more recent history, the Giants championship staffs in 2010, 2012, and 2014 didn’t have as many strong starts as this 2016 club has so far. The entire starting staff in 2016 has 25 games of 60 or more with Matt Cain pitching two and Jake Peavy pitching one. The 2010 staff had 23 games of 60 or higher to this point in the season, while the other two championship teams have less as a group than just Bumgarner, Cueto and Samardzija. The Giants top three pitchers are also in the top 10 in all of baseball for their total Game score.
May 25 GSc Leaderboard:
— Pitcher Game Score (@SPGameScore) May 25, 2016
The Giants were expecting their two prized free-agent signings to help take the pressure off of incumbent starters Bumgarner, Cain and Peavy. But it was also to take pressure off a bullpen that was overworked in 2015. Both Sergio Romo and George Kontos, who were used heavily last season, have already been to the disabled list this season. The team also has put added responsibility on young arms like Josh Osich and Hunter Strickland.
Regardless of the reasons the Giants brought them in, it is clear that Cueto and Samardzija have been as good as any free agent signing this season and that we are also witnessing one of the strongest staffs in San Francisco Giants history.