The SF Giants dropped their first series of the season, but while many fans are disappointed by the team’s 1-2 record, there were some positive signs. With the obvious caveat that a three-game sample is far from enough to make definitive conclusions, here are three statistics that stood out:
SF Giants: 3 big numbers from the first series of the season
1. 16 swinging strikes (Johnny Cueto)
There are few better measures of a pitcher’s effectiveness than the number of swings and misses they induce. A pitcher can be effective by limiting hard contact, alongside a favorable strike zone, and sound defense. However, it’s much harder to delineate what success is due to luck, and their performance.
Inducing whiffs though is far easier to compare from start to start. In Johnny Cueto‘s first appearance of the year, he induced 16 swinging strikes across his 5.2 innings of work, according to Baseball-Reference. In fact, Cueto had not generated that many swinging strikes in an outing since September of 2017.
Cueto had not recorded more than 12 swinging strikes in any of his 16 appearances from 2019-2020. The Mariners lineup includes many hitters with high strikeout rates throughout their careers, but since returning from UCL surgery, he has failed to fool many hitters, regardless of their scouting report.
On the surface, Cueto’s outing was far from impressive. He struck out 7, but walked 3, and allowed 3 runs. It was far from his best work, yet he still did something he had not done in years. That’s a fantastic sign that even better play could be around the corner. If he’s able to continue generating more whiffs while refining his control, he could finally bounceback from his consistent struggles over the past four seasons.