San Francisco Giants: Is This Barry Zito's Final Season with the Giants?

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Jun 17, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Barry Zito (75) reacts after being taken out of the game during the sixth inning against the San Diego Padres at AT

With the second half in full swing, it seems as though the all too familiar torture has indeed returned to the city by The Bay.

Dropping three of a four-game set at home, San Francisco’s struggles continue mightily against the hard-hitting Cincinnati Reds, who came into town looking for revenge, and outscored the Giants by a walloping 33-11; the Giants close out the season’s matchups against Cincinnati at a disappointing 1-6.

With the season on the line, it was a hard-to-swallow series, chocked full of base-running and defensive blunders.  Sure, they racked up hits at a more than healthy rate — but it means nothing if next to none of those runners ever get to cross home plate.

Tim Lincecum, Eric Surkamp (who made his first Major League start in nearly a year after receiving Tommy John surgery), and even trusty Chad Gaudin all fell victim to the superior Cincinnati lineup.

Coincidentally, it was Barry Zito who stood out as the lone starting pitcher to comparatively tame the hot-hitting Red’s bats, and was the only starter to allow three or fewer runs in a start during the series.  His outing provided just enough leeway for the bullpen to come in and pitch 4.1 innings of no-run ball to preserve the hard-fought victory.

Coming into Tuesday night’s doubleheader, Zito was 4-7, and (still) hasn’t had a win since May 30th against Oakland. After not pitching past the 2nd inning the day prior to the All-Star break in San Diego, Zito’s performance on Tuesday was much needed — both personally, and for the club.

Though he only pitched 4.2 innings in this one, it was still encouraging to see the left-hander hold his own against one of the best-hitting teams in both leagues. In fact, it was the best he’s looked against the Reds since June 30th of last season.

But so far, after yet another sub-par year, where does the former Cy Young award winner fit into the Giant’s future plans? After all, he is set to be a free agent after this season.

Here are some important factors that will play a major role in determining whether or not Barry Zito will be back with the orange and black:

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Tags: Barry Zito Chad Gaudin Matt Cain Ryan Vogelsong San Francisco Giants Tim Lincecum

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