Mini-blurb from the Chron on Zito’s Spring outing yesterday.
Sure, he gave up a first-inning grand slam, but he settled down to beat the Mariners.
Sweet! Zito, who’s making some changes to his delivery, still hasn’t had what I would call a strong Spring performance. A common theory for why Zito isn’t pitching so well is that he never pitches well in the Spring. I decided to look up his Spring Training stats and here’s what I found.
2003-2007: 3.74 ERA, 118 IP, 112 H, 13 HR, 42 BB, 70 SO
That’s not too shabby and about what most Giants’ fans predicted from Zito when he initially signed with the team. For comparison, here’s how the opening day starter has been throwing so far this year.
2008: 14.92 ERA, 12.2 IP, 21 H, 4 HR, 10 BB, 0 SO
It doesn’t get much more worse than that. A couple of amazing things from Zito’s spring performance so far. He’s giving up almost 2 hits per inning pitched. He’s also given up 4 homers in just 12.2 IP, a stat that is certainly ugly but none more than his 0 strike outs in 12.2 IP. Zito isn’t a big strikeout pitcher but not striking out at least one batter in 12.2 innings of Spring ball isn’t the best way to start his 2nd year in San Fran. Not striking out anyone in 12 innings looks bad because in Spring Training you aren’t facing major league hitters every time out. You’ll often get NRI’s, reclamation projects, career minor leaguers, etc.
Zero strikeouts aside, I’m fine with giving the windup-tinkering Zito a pass on his Spring Training performance to this point. Spring Training stats don’t mean anything in the big picture, even if you would like to see Zito pitch much better than he’s currently pitching. That’s why his Spring hasn’t bothered me yet and it shouldn’t bother you either.
If Zito hasn’t stuck out anyone by the end of April and he’s still giving up 2 hits per inning, then we can panic.