2016 Giants: July PQS

This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the month of July 2016, PQS as defined in Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster annual book and they published the details here (unfortunately, they removed the article; this link gets you at least to the PQS definition, read down to middle for details). I wrote on this first in 2006 (wow, 11th year of this!  10th anniversary!) and have compiled their stats on a regular basis, so I'm continuing it this season for continuity and historical comparison (there is the "PQS" label that you can click to see the old posts on this). Regular readers can skip to the next section.

This is the Quality Start with a sabermetric DIPS twist, and it gets really easy to calculate once you get used to it. I don't think it's the end all or be all, but then nothing really is that. It is, as I like to say, another piece of the puzzle. A dominating start is scored a 4 or 5 and a disaster start is scored a 0 or 1. DOM% is the percentage of starts that are dominating, DIS% is the percentage of starts that are disasters (any start under 5.0 IP is automatically a 0, or disaster).

What's Good and What's Not

From my observations, a DOM at or above the 40% mark is indicative of good pitching; above 50% is great; above 70% is elite. A low DIS is also indicative of good pitching, just look at the table in the link above showing DOM% and DIS% on the axes.

Basically, you want to see a pitcher's DOM% to be over 40% and ideally over 50%, and you want their DIS to be under 20% and ideally under 10%. For example, Johan Santana has a 76% DOM and 3% DIS in 2006 (2.77 ERA), whereas Orlando Hernandez had a 52% DOM and 28% DIS (4.66 ERA), and Adam Eaton had a 31% DOM and 31% DIS (5.12 ERA). Read the link (unfortunately, they removed the article and thus the table is no longer available, sorry), as I noted, there's a nice chart there showing the combination of high DOM% and low DIS%, and there you can see particularly how a low DIS% is so important to a low ERA.

If you had to chose a high DOM% or a low DIS%, pitchers tend to have a lower ERA when you have a low DIS% vs. a high DOM% (obviously if you combine both, you have a much better chance of having an elite pitcher).  But I think when the DOM% is high enough, you win more by choosing a high DOM% over a low DIS%, as there are more high quality games pitched overall.

I wholeheartedly recommend buying Baseball Forecaster and learning more about their methods of analyzing baseball. It has been greatly illuminating for me, and if you want to get a taste for it without paying full price, they used to sell their old editions of their annuals on their website for half price or less (plus shipping); but that was before he sold the company off, and I haven't checked recently.

Giants Starters' PQS for 2016 Season

Madison Bumgarner- (82% DOM, 0% DIS; 18:0/22):  2, 5, 2, 5, 5/5, 5, 4, 5, 5, 5/5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 2/5, 5, 3, 5, 5/

Matt Cain- (33% DOM, 33% DIS; 4:4/12):  4, 0, 0, 3, 3/0, 5, 5, 5, X//0, 2, 3/

Johnny Cueto - (71% DOM, 5% DIS; 15:0/21):  4, 4, 5, 3, 5/3, 4, 4, 5, 4, 5/3, 5, 5, 5, 2/4, 5, 1, 5, 2/

Chris Heston - (0% DOM, 0% DIS; 0:0/0):  //

Jake Peavy - (48% DOM, 29% DIS; 10:6/21):  3, 0, 2, 4, 0/3, 3, 5, 0, 4, 4/4, 4, 5, 4, 0/5, 0, 4, 3, 0/

Jeff Samardzija - (48% DOM, 19% DIS; 10:4/21):  3, 4, 3, 4, 4/5, 4, 4, 5, 5, 3/1. 0, 4, 0, 2/3, 5, 2, 1, 2/

Albert Suarez - (50% DOM, 17% DIS; 3:1/6):  //4, 3, 0, 4, 3/5/

X - Cain had a disaster start, but was dealing when hamstring went out, not counting in PQS stats

Giants Season overall - 58% DOM, 15% DIS out of 104 games counted (60:16/104)
Giants Month of April - 48% DOM, 16% DIS out of 25 games counted (12:4/25)
Giants Month of May - 79% DOM, 7% DIS out of 28 games counted (22:2/28)
Giants Month of June - 56% DOM, 19% DIS out of 27 games counted (15:5/27)
Giants Month of July  - 46% DOM, 21% DIS out of 24 games counted (11:5/24)

July continued the slide in the rotation that happened in June, and returned the rotation to the bad old days of April.  Only Bumgarner was able to hold steady his PQS, the rest faultered in some ways.

Bumgarner lead the way in DOM, nailing 4 DOM starts, with Cueto just behind with 3 DOM starts.  Peavy had 2 DOM starts, Samardzija and Suarez only had 1 DOM start (though Suarez only had that one start), and Cain had 0 DOM starts.

Samardzija, however, did turn things around some, at least.  Instead of the 3 DIS starts he had in June, he only had the one in July.  Peavy led the staff with 2 DIS starts, and Cueto and Cain also had 1 DIS start.

The stories of the month were Cueto, Shark, Peavy, Cain, and Suarez.
  • Cueto because he continued to sputter some.  It appears that he has started his second half downward trend that I had posted on previously, based on this and continuation of this into August:  he has a 4.84 ERA in the 6 starts since the ASG (though his K/9 and K/BB are great) plus 6 HR given up, and in the 9 starts since his slide began at the end of June, 4.71 ERA with 9 HR given up.  The Giants were at least still 3-2 in his starts, but that's because of the offense.  Not going to win a lot of games with that ERA.
  • The Shark continued to do poorly as well, but at least wasn't as bad as he was in June.  He stabilized significantly, greatly reducing the number of DIS starts from 3 to 1, but was unable to deliver multiple DOM starts, as we need from the #3 spot.  Unfortunately, the offense sputtered in July, perhaps under the pressure of the starting pitching overall collapse, and the Giants only went 1-4 with Samardzija in July, a reversion to mean vs. what he did in June, when he actually pitched worse, but the Giants won more games.
  • Peavy was unable to continue his upward swing that began in May.  He had pulled off a second half surge of DOM starts for us in previous seasons, but was unable to this time, and his decline, leading to 2 DIS starts in his last 4 starts, ended his time in the rotation, with the Giants trading for Matt Moore, a much younger pitcher with the potential to be a good starter for us for years.  He's now in the bullpen, taking Suarez's long relief role.
  • Cain returned to the rotation, in place of Suarez, after the ASB.  He clearly wasn't ready in his first start, but had a very classic Cain-like start in his last July start:  no hits, 4 walks, 5 K's in 5 IP.   His key going forward is building on that and getting back to the form he had before he went on the DL, when he had 3 straight DOM starts, something he hasn't done consistently since the season he had the Perfecto.  So far in August, he has not delivered a DOM start, but did well to strike out a lot of batters in his last start.  The rotation can survive a couple of pitchers scuffling, but not 3 or 4, so he needs to get back to his better performances, and fast.  
  • Suarez did great taking over for Cain.  He has been as effective as Petit was in being a spot starter, compiling three DOM and only one DIS in six starts, which is what good pitchers do.  Unfortunately, the team only went 3-3 in his starts for Cain.  Due to the Moore trade and Peavy demotion, in spite of his good work, Suarez got sent down to AAA.  Not that I'm complaining, that's baseball sometimes, good performers get sent down because there's no space in the majors.  And I think Peavy has contributed enough, particularly in 2014, to earn the right to see how he can do as a reliever for us, instead of being unceremoniously DFAed, as some fans had hoped, particularly since, with rest, he could become like he was before, a shutdown pitcher, but only over 2-3 innings instead of 5-6 innings. 
July 2016 Comments

I will keep it shorter, since August is half over as it is.  Sorry everyone, but my heart is just not as in it as in previous seasons.  I think the death of my sister has hit me harder than I have realized.  But I want to at least keep these going, so there is that.

The team went into a free-fall after the ASB, with the starting rotation sputtering and the starting lineup sputtering.   After starting the month 7-2, the Giants ended it 4-11.  Their 6.5 game lead at the break dissipated, with the Dodgers catching us for one day, in August.  The scary part is that they are doing it with Kershaw on the DL, and potentially out for the season.

It was quite day and night in July:
Before the ASB:  in 9 games, the Giants averaged 4.56 RS per game, while averaging only 3.00 RA per game, a great formula for winning a lot of games. 
After the ASB:  in 15 games, the Giants averaged only 3.27 RS per game, while averaging 4.53 RA per game, a great formula for losing a lot of games.  The poor offense of May returned, heck it was even worse, along with the poor pitching of April, which resulted in the poorest stretch of playing baseball all season long.  
No need to go into details for July, as it was bifurcated into two parts, one where the Giants did really well, and one where the Giants did really poorly.  There was nothing to really point out, besides Bumgarner, who while doing very well overall, as usual, the Giants were still only 1-4 because they weren't scoring much for him.

They have stabilized some in August, helped greatly by the addition of Moore coupled with the subtraction of Peavy in the starting rotation.  And the offense has improved a lot, though it is still not good enough yet to win the division with the pitching we got.

Overall, our bullpen continues to have it's growing pains, which was to be expected when you are giving young prospects, who are still unproven, a lot of opportunities.  Especially with the rotating door of injuries pushing more experienced pitchers out, and less experienced pitchers in.  Though Law in his first season is becoming the revelation that we were hoping he would be a few seasons ago before he went down needing TJS.   And Will Smith, who we traded for, should be a boost once he settles down some, and rack up a long string of scoreless appearances, as Law has done (he is up to 19 appearances now).

It does not help that our remaining Core Four relievers - Lopez, Romo, Casilla - has not been as locked down as they were in the past.  Lopez has not been himself, it is looking like this might be his last season with the Giants, though he said earlier in the season that he intends to continue pitching at least another season.  Romo dealt with his injury, and returned to perform great in July, but has been struggling more than usual in August.

And Casilla already has 4 losses, the most he's had in any season since Wilson was our closer, the highest ERA he has had, by far, as a Giant, and 6 blown saves, which is already tied for his career high for any season where he was a primary closer.   So by a number of measures, Casilla looks like he's having a down season.

Part of the reason, it seemed, though, is that he has been placed in a lot more leveraged situations than he had been in the past, resulting in a much higher aLI of 2.40 (previous high was 1.87 last season) and a 31:5 HiLev/LoLev ratio, vs. 29:21 ratio last season, and vs. his previous high point in 2012 of 37:14.  That is a function of the Giants offense being so up and down this season, keeping games closer than in other seasons, and leaving Casilla in situations he has not faced as much in prior seasons.   One could think that more high leverage should result in poorer results overall.

I then decided to dig into his appearances this season, and, oddly enough,  he actually has a 2.28 ERA in his high leveraged starts (I counted the ones 2.00 and higher).  He has a 3.75 in 13 low leverage starts (where I counted all the ones at 1.00 and lower).  It was the medium ones that has done him in this season, only 8 appearances, 6.43 ERA, where he blew two saves, and lost one game.

So it wasn't high leverage games that caused his stats to decline, but a pair of 3 ER appearances that kills his stats in leverage type.  That one loss in the medium was the Orioles loss on Sunday, before that, he had a 3.00 ERA.  And even among the low leverage, in those 13 starts, he gave up runs in only 3 appearances, including a 3 ER game.  Taking out these two appearances would probably drop his ERA back down to his normal range, suggesting that his struggles this season has been more of an anomaly than a decline.  Particularly since his K/9 is up, his BB/9 is down, and both leads to his K/BB being the best it ever was.