San Francisco has won its last seven games started by Zito
Widely considered a bust since signing a seven-year, $126 million contract with San Francisco after the 2006 season, Barry Zito is giving the Giants a significant contribution this year. On Sunday, he limited the Los Angeles Dodgers to no runs and four hits over 6.1 innings and improved to 11-8 while the Giants increased their National League West lead to 5.5 games.
Zito matched his 2007 single-season high for wins as a member of the Giants, and San Francisco has won its last seven games started by the 34-year-old left-hander.
The blanking on Sunday, which was maintained by five Giants relievers, was the team’s NL-best 14th shutout and the team’s fifth against the Dodgers. Zito, who has a 4.33 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP, is 10-1 when San Francisco scores four or more runs.
Zito’s season stats are not remotely as impressive as when he won the 2002 American League Cy Young Award with a 23-5 record, a 2.75 ERA, a 1.13 WHIP and a .218 opponent’s batting average for the A’s, but both the pitcher and the Giants are ecstatic that he is delivering strong outings at a critical time.
In seven seasons with Oakland, Zito established himself as one of the game’s best starters with a 102-63 record and a 3.55 ERA. When he moved across the bay for the 2007 season, Zito was expected to be even more dominant considering that the NL is typically easier to navigate for starting pitchers.
Instead, Zito flopped. He has yet to finish with a winning record (posting marks of 11-13, 10-17, 10-13, 9-14 and 3-4). Overall, in six seasons with the Giants, he is 54-69 with a 4.51 ERA.
Zito can at least partially redeem himself by providing the Giants rotation with a lift for the rest of September. Tim Lincecum has pitched better in recent starts but overall is 8-14 with a 5.11 ERA. Ryan Vogelsong, who was a NL Cy Young Award candidate earlier this summer, has a 5.20 ERA over his last 10 starts. San Francisco needs stability in the rotation beyond Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain, and Zito is pitching for a spot in the post-season rotation.