Chris Stratton and the entire San Francisco Giants rotation have had their struggles this year, from injuries to inconsistency.
With Jeff Samardzija going back to the disabled list, Johnny Cueto not close to returning, and Madison Bumgarner not returning until Tuesday, the Giants needed a strong outing from Stratton to begin the homestand.
Stratton delivered, going six scoreless innings, striking out seven, walking just one and allowing only four hits on 95 pitches in a 4-0 win against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Alex Pavlovic, the Giants beat writer for NBC Bay Area, pointed out tonight that Stratton’s curveball and slider were not effective in the month of May, as opponents had an .875 OPS against his secondary pitches.
The man known as “Spin Rate” had his curveball working tonight. It comes at a critical time for San Francisco’s starting staff.
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Andy Suarez, who is tomorrow’s strarter, is 1-4 with a 5.65 ERA in his rookie season. Like most starting pitchers this season, he has struggled to pitch deep into games.
Derek Holland, who did not get his first win as a Giant until May 2nd, has since been one of the team’s stronger starters, while Stratton and others struggled through May.
Dereck Rodriguez, the son of Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez, replaced Samardzija after he left the game after the first inning on Tuesday and showed a lot of upside in his major league debut in Colorado.
Ty Blach, who started Opening Day in place of Bumgarner, was moved to the bullpen for the pending addition of the team’s ace.
Stratton clearly made a statement with his performance tonight against a young, strong Phillies lineup.
On top of his strong performance, he also did something that most Giants pitchers have struggled with all season: laying down a sacrifice bunt. He did it twice. His first moved Mac Williamson into scoring position and led to a Joe Panik RBI single to give the Giants a 1-0 lead.
If Stratton can continue to pitch like he did tonight, the Giants will have some confidence heading into the rest of the summer.