Last Friday, prior to Game 5 of the National League championship series, someone asked me if I was confident with Barry Zito on the mound vs. the Cardinals.
I responded that no Giants fan is ever confident with Zito on the mound.
That’s because you just never seem to know which Zito is going to show up: the one who keeps hitters off-balanced or the one who walks in runs.
So to make Giants fans feel better about this Barry Zito vs. Justin Verlander matchup in Game 1 of the World Series, we came up with seven good reasons why you should feel good about Barry Zito.
NO. 1: We’ll start with the obvious one. The Giants have won their last 13 games when Zito has started on the mound.
NO. 2: It’s true that the Giants have won each of Zito’s last 13 starts sometimes in spite of Zito — he has a 3.56 ERA over that stretch. But since Sept. 9, he is 6-0 with a 2.57 ERA.
NO. 3: Against teams that advanced to the postseason this year (Reds, Cardinals, Braves, Rangers and A’s), Zito was 4-2 with a 2.98 ERA in eight starts.
NO. 4: Zito has 2.96 ERA in 9 postseason starts. It would be much less if we took out Zito’s lone postseason start vs. Detroit (in 2006).
NO. 5: The Giants score runs when Zito pitches. After giving Zito 3.7, 3.0 and 3.5 runs of support per start in 2008, 2009 and 2010, the Giants gave Zito 4.8 runs of support in 2012. During the 13 game win streak in Zito starts, the Giants have averaged 6.23 runs.
NO. 6: Zito’s last start against the Tigers in 2011, he gave up no runs on five hits in six innings of work. The Giants won that game 15-3 over Max Scherzer. Brandon Crawford and Pablo Sandoval homered in that game. To put the game into context, Zito opened his season by injuring his ankle in his third start of the season in Arizona. He then missed the next 2.5 months. Actually, he was hurt the next six weeks then he spent nearly a month in Fresno on a rehab stint after Ryan Vogelsong had seized Zito’s spot in the rotation. But the Jonathan Sanchez imploded, so Zito came off the DL. He gave up 2 runs in 7 innings vs. the Cubs, then the start in Detroit, then gave up one run in eight innings vs. the Padres. Then Zito’s season went to heck and he didn’t make another start after July 31.
NO. 7: In Justin Verlander, the Giants are facing a pitcher with an ERA of 0.74 in his three previous postseason starts. In 2010, the Giants faced Texas’ Cliff Lee in Game 1 of the World Series. Coming into that game, Lee had an ERA of 0.75 in his three previous postseason starts that year. The Giants jumped on Lee for 7 runs (6 earned) in 4 2/3 innings en route to an 11-7 win.