San Francisco Giants: Why Sending Down Michael Kickham Will Backfire on Them

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Game Analysis

May 28, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics athletics catcher Derek Norris (36) rounds the bases after hitting a two run home run in the second inning against the San Francisco at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

At the beginning of the game, Kickham’s command was masterful. Then, he lost his command.

Kickham suddenly failed to find the strike zone, as he threw 26 balls in his last two innings. In addition, Kickham went through a stretch in the third inning in which 12 of his 20 pitches were balls, which is definitely concerning. This year in the minors, Kickham averaged 3.7 walks per nine innings, which is poor.

Oh, and over the course of his minor-league career, his BB/9 ratio is an appalling 4.5.

So, it wasn’t extremely surprising to see Kickham throwing so wildly with nerves acting as a major factor and the MLB’s second-most patient team taking close pitches. Catcher Buster Posey saw Kickham hit his target easily early in the game, and he gained confidence in Kickham.

That’s why he set up on the outside corner often, giving Kickham little margin for error. Unfortunately for the Giants, Kickham missed Posey’s glove and didn’t get the call on some close pitches. Kickham wasn’t able to maintain his composure after getting into a jam in the third inning, as evidenced by Oakland’s offensive outburst.

Promise was shown throughout the game by Kickham, as he didn’t make any glaring mistakes. Norris’ home run came on a low pitch, one that wasn’t far from Posey’s target. Kickham threw some pitches that were well outside, as he stopped attacking the strike zone when he got into a jam.

Kickham did throw one strike to Freiman, but it was a mistake. Bochy, knowing that his struggling pitcher was one more mistake away from forcing the Giants to face an insurmountable deficit, took Kickham out, ending his night and his brief stint in the majors.

No, Kickham didn’t pitch as poorly as his inflated 15.43 ERA suggests. However, he did concern the Giants with his sudden loss of command and his failure to shut the door in key situations (the A’s hit .600 with a .714 OBP off of him with runners on base).