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Overall, the San Francisco Giants are having a solid season, in both fantasy and reality. The club has a winning record (25-21) and is positioned to battle for an NL postseason spot all summer. But one cause for concern has recently emerged, and it is a surprising one for this team — their pitching has been awful in May.
The Giants have been a great source of fantasy production in the pitching department in recent years. Their club is usually among the ERA leaders, and they tend to do so without an army of superstars. With a pitcher-friendly home park to help them out, the Giants are on a shortlist of clubs — along with teams such as the Dodgers and Rays — who should always be given the benefit of the doubt by fantasy managers.
But everything has fallen apart in May, with the club ranking last in the Majors in ERA (5.71). Their rotation is near the bottom of the league this month, sitting among cellar-dwellers such as the Rockies and Nats. And their bullpen has been even worse, posting a 6.65 ERA this month that is a full run higher than that of any other team.
Here is a quick look at what has gone wrong for some of the prominent San Francisco pitchers — and why now is the time to capitalize.
San Fran's pitchers struggled in May — so now's the time to pounce
-Carlos Rodon had a disastrous outing in St. Louis on May 15 (3.2 IP, 8 ER) but allowed a total of nine runs in his other four starts. Still, the left-hander isn’t fooling batters as well as he did in April, having compiled three or fewer strikeouts in three of his five May starts. In fact, outside of a dominant home outing against a Rockies lineup that struggles on the road, Rodon has a 14:10 K:BB ratio in May.
The 29-year-old remains a lineup lock in shallow leagues, but he was perhaps overvalued on the trade market in April.
-I have been vocal in my defense of Alex Cobb, who has produced a 6.04 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP in May. The right-hander has been arguably the unluckiest starter in baseball this season (.402 BABIP) while logging a 47:12 K:BB ratio. Until his luck evens out, I will continue to love Cobb as a buy-low option.
-Alex Wood has been a similar case to Cobb in recent weeks. The 31-year-old has compiled an impressive 26:8 K:BB ratio across 23.2 innings this month, while also inducing plenty of ground balls (54.9 percent). Unfortunately, all Wood has to show for his efforts are a .391 BABIP, a 5.32 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP. And like Cobb, I believe that Wood is a buy-low option on the waiver wire or trade market right now.
-Logan Webb has been the team’s most consistent May starter, having posted a 3.91 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. He remains a solid mixed-league option who will get enough ground balls to keep his ERA down but won’t rack up enough whiffs to ever become an ace.
-Jakob Junis has been surprisingly effective this month (3.97 ERA, 1.01 WHIP) from the fifth rotation spot. The 29-year-old isn’t striking many batters out (14 SO in 22.2 IP), which keeps him relegated to the streamer category.
-In the bullpen, Camilo Doval has converted all three of his save chances this month, and although he has taken the loss in two other contests, he remains locked in as this team’s primary closer option. Beyond Doval, no San Fran reliever warrants mixed-league attention.
As you can see, my overall plan on the Giants' pitching staff is to buy low on as many of them as possible. There will be no discount on Webb, and Rodon is still likely valued more than he was on draft day. But Wood and Cobb are great buy-low targets and Doval could go on a nice run of collecting saves once the rotation gets back on track.