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SF Giants: 3 big numbers from the first series of the season

Johnny Cueto #47 of the SF Giants pitches against the San Diego Padres at Oracle Park on September 26, 2020. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Johnny Cueto #47 of the SF Giants pitches against the San Diego Padres at Oracle Park on September 26, 2020. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
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SF Giants, Wandy Peralta
Wandy Peralta #60 of the SF Giants pitches against the Colorado Rockies at Oracle Park on September 21, 2020. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

SF Giants: 3 big numbers from the first series of the season
3. 30.3% whiff-rate

At this point, it’s no secret that the Giants’ pitching staff lacks premium velocity. In an age where most bullpens are littered with pitchers touching 99 mph, San Francisco’s pitching staff has no one that will touch the upper-90s consistently. Aside from Kevin Gausman, no one in their starting rotation has a track record of striking out more than a batter per inning. As strikeout rates around the league have skyrocketed, the Giants’ staff seems built for a different era.

Whiff-rate, calculated by dividing the number of swings-and-miss by the number of swings against a pitcher, is a strong evaluator of a pitcher’s stuff. MLB hitters are the best in the world. Even the most strikeout-prone hitters can make contact against below-average pitches. In 2020, the Giants pitching staff had the seventh-worst whiff rate in MLB, inducing misses on just 25.1% of opposing swings. If the first three games are the sign of a trend, their staff might have turned it around this year.

In their three games against Seattle, San Francisco’s pitchers induce swings-and-misses on 30.3% of swings, which would have been the third-best rate in MLB last season. For a pitching staff that struggled mightily, and appears to be the most obvious weakness on the roster heading into the season, that would be a fantastic swing in the right direction.

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There are no consolation prizes in professional sports. However, after dropping their first series of the regular season, the SF Giants have several positive takeaways from their first three games. While the team hopes to improve its record, if they continue hitting the ball hard and inducing opponent whiffs at above-average rates, they should be well prepared for success.

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