MLB concern that 3 levels of post season play will affect Giants pitcher stamina in 2011 regular season
- when 3 levels of post season play became standard.
- concerns for the Giants about the state of their pitching.
Skeptics suggest that the Giants' talented hurlers, particularly the starters, could be doubly affected by the residual effects of their extra workload. Not only might the starters' career-
- high accumulation of innings erode their arm strength,
but the shortened break inevitably could reduce their recovery time and disrupt their usual offseason routines.
Asked if such worries were legitimate, right-hander Matt Cain delivered a response that was as honest as it was brief.
- "I don't know," Cain said Friday with a chuckle.
Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti acknowledged that the club won't truly learn whether its staff has avoided postseason-related physical problems
- until the end of the year.
"I think you really notice it as the season progresses," Righetti said. "... I'm going to watch it closely. But there's not much you can do about it. It's like being Rookie of the Year -- 'Hey, you're going to go through the sophomore jinx.' 'What is that?' 'Well, we'll let you know.' It's going to come up. Everybody's arm is going to handle it a little bit different.
- I can't imagine five guys' arms handling it the same."...
Including the three postseason rounds, the Giants' postseason starting quartet of Cain, Tim Lincecum, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner exceeded its previous season-high innings totals by an average of 43 innings apiece, including Bumgarner's whopping 72 2/3. Bumgarner, who turned 21 last Aug. 1, drew attention in a recent column by Sports Illustrated writer Tom Verducci, who has stated that pitchers younger than 25 should not increase their workloads by more than 30 innings due to the risk of injury.
But the Giants tried to ease the stress on their starters' arms toward the end of last season. Cain said that, beginning in September, he and his fellow starters threw less between outings. Often they'd shorten their bullpen sessions by two or three minutes; occasionally they'd skip playing catch.
As a result, Cain said, "Everybody was feeling good. I think they did a great job of
- giving everybody enough rest,
getting us out of there when we needed to get out of there. Something like that definitely helps to keep your body feeling good toward the end of the year."
Cain admitted that similar measures could be necessary in 2011 "because of all the innings we all logged last year."
The consistency of the starters' appearances down the stretch and in the postseason also helped them. Lincecum and Cain never worked on less than their usual four days' rest. Sanchez's lone start on three days' rest -- which happened to consist of six shutout innings at Colorado on Aug. 3 -- followed a relief appearance and didn't tax his arm. Bumgarner pitched two shutout innings of relief on two days' rest, when he'd typically throw between starts, in the clinching Game 6 victory of the National League Championship Series at Philadelphia.
Righetti indicated that he'll pay close attention to Bumgarner, due to his age, and to Sanchez, following his dull finish (six runs in 6 2/3 innings spanning Game 6 of the NLCS and Game 3 of the World Series).
But Righetti added that the way the Giants pitched could prove more telling than how much they pitched.
- After leading the Major Leagues with a 3.36 regular-season ERA, the Giants actually improved that figure in the postseason to 2.47.
"I think most of those guys pitched within their stuff and didn't try to overthrow," Righetti said. "We threw a lot of strikes and it didn't seem like they worried too much about what the [velocity] gun was reading. I liked what I saw from that standpoint. Because that's how you get hurt, when you feel a little bit tired and you say, 'I'm going to throw as hard as I can.' I didn't see a lot of that."
Resilience could favor the Giants. At 28, Sanchez is the oldest among the postseason starters.
- Only four pitchers on San Francisco's projected Opening Day staff are 30 or older: Guillermo Mota (37), Javier Lopez (33), Barry Zito (32) and Jeremy Affeldt (31)....
Sheer motivation to sustain their World Series success should prompt Giants pitchers to cope with the
- truncated offseason and find an acceptable training regimen."...
1/14/11, MLB.com, "Giants' pitchers arming themselves against short offseason," by Chris Haft
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