Barry Zito needs to work on his crouch again.
Last offseason, Zito worked again on his delivery, standing on the mound with a more pronounced crouch.
It made him look like a batting practice pitcher during spring training, and some began to wonder if the enigmatic lefty was done as a big-league pitcher.
But Zito stayed in Arizona to continue to work on some things when the rest of the team headed north.
Then he stunned everyone by throwing a four-hit shutout at Colorado to open the season.
That was the first of five quality starts in his first seven outings. In none of those seven starts did he allow more than three runs. He had a 2.53 ERA at that point in the season.
However since then, it’s been more of the Zito of old.
He gave up four runs in 5.1 innings against the A’s after the Giants had given him a big early lead. He got tagged for eight runs (four earned) in three innings against the Brewers. His ERA rose to 3.53.
Then he had back-to-back quality starts (7 IP, 2 ER vs. Arizona; 8.1 IP, 0 ER vs. Chicago) and his ERA went back to 2.98 and his record was 5-2. Numbers Tim Lincecum would trade a month’s worth of Double-Doubles for.
But in his last three starts, he’s allowed 17 earned runs in 14.1 innings.
At least in the past couple of starts you could pinpoint Zito’s problems to a few bad pitches or a bad inning.
There wasn’t much good to say about Tuesday’s start against the Angels.
The Angels had a 3-0 lead before Zito recorded his first out, which was mercifully (and somewhat inexplicably) given to him when the Angels decided to sacrifice with two on and no one out … after the first five Angels safely reached base.
Zito left the first giving up four runs and facing all nine Angels hitters.
The Angels tacked on another run in the second before Zito worked a scoreless third, allowing only an infield single.
But he was right back in trouble in the fourth, loading the bases with one out when he was pulled. All three runs came into score on a triple by Mark Trumbo that probably should have been caught by Angel Pagan, leading to only one run.
We’ve said it before. If the Giants win every game pitched by Ryan Vogelsong, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner and lose every start by Zito and Lincecum, they’re a .600 ball club. A .600 ball club goes 97-65 over a 162-game season.
But that’s a lot to ask. And it means that every time the Giants lose game started by Vogey, MadBum and Cainer, they need to win games started by Zeets and the Freak.
And the way Zito is going, that puts more pressure on Lincecum to get his act together.
As for Zito, his next start comes at home against the Dodgers, then at home against the Reds. So it doesn’t get much easier for the lefty.
Vogelsong takes the mound against Jared Weaver as the Giants wrap up their series with the Angels at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday. Weaver is making his first start since going on the DL with a strained back. He’ll be on a pitch limit of 80-90 pitches, so hopefully the Giants can at least make him work for his outs.