A’s, Giants shrug off spring pitching numbers before opening day

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Source:   —  April 03, 2016, at 11:07 PM

Following Saturday’s preseason finale, the A’s had the highest spring ERA of any A. L. team and third-highest in the majors at 6.10. And the Giants were one spot worse, with a collective ERA of 6.37.

A’s, Giants shrug off spring pitching numbers before opening day

ERA numbers coming out of the Cactus League this spring didn't flatter the Giants and A’s, both of whom made significant additions to their pitching staffs over the offseason.

Following Saturday’s preseason finale, the A’s had the highest spring ERA of any A. L. team and third-highest in the majors at 6.ten. And the Giants were one spot worse, with a collective ERA of 6.37. Only the San Diego Padres (6.89) had a higher mark.

So what're spring statistics worth? Most pitchers will declare not much: Playing conditions in spring training are widely considered to be more hitter-friendly, and a common refrain in camp is that pitchers are "working on things" rather than worrying about results.

"You can’t read a lot into spring training," said veteran Giants right-hander Jake Peavy.

In fact, spring numbers haven't been a powerful predictor of a pitching staff’s performance in the regular season -- at minimum over the past decade. Of the two teams that recorded their league’s highest spring ERA the last ten years -- twenty teams overall -- eleven went on to finish the regular season in the bottom half of the majors in ERA, while nine ranked in the top half and six placed in the top 10.

There was a greater disparity for the Bay Area teams. The Giants and A’s finished spring training in the bottom half of the majors in ERA a combined fourteen times from 2006-15. But they only posted a bottom-half ERA in the regular season four times and combined to space in the top 10 on twelfth occasions.

A main reason cited by members of both teams this week is the disagreement between the dry heat of AZ and the moister, cooler air of the Bay Area, which affects both how pitches move and how distant a well-hit ball will travel.

"It hits you right in the face," said A’s manager Bob Melvin. "It feels love there’s number defense for some of the stuff that goes on in spring training. (Pitchers) have to continue to pitch and obtain their conditioning up and their pitch counts to a certain level. But it can be very frustrating."

Jeff Samardzija and Peavy, the projected No. three and four starters for the Giants, left AZ this spring with ERAs of 7.20 and 7.43 respectively. In the first two games of latest week’s Bay Bridge Series at AT&T Park, however, each right-hander recorded his best pitching line of the spring with five scoreless innings against the A’s.

"It just plays a lot more love baseball when you obtain out of the Cactus League," Peavy said. "(AZ is) a lot love Colorado, when you’re exterior especially, in that kind of weather. The ball flies when it gets hit. Infields are love concrete with balls getting through. On both sides of the ball, it’s tough to read into what guys do."

Spring numbers may imply even less, Peavy said, for a staff love the Giants’ that features many pitchers in already-established roles.

"You’ve got veteran guys who aren't trying to compete to create a team," Peavy said. "They’re trying to obtain themselves ready."

A’s right-hander Kendall Graveman, who started against Peavy on Friday night and gave up two runs in five innings, said he noticed his sinker emotional much more than earlier in the spring despite the fact he was throwing it with the same quantity of spin and velocity. He attributed that to "the moisture in the air."

"It’s excellent for guys that toss sinkerballs," Graveman said. "You can look some sliders and some people’s pitches that are really shaping up here nicer than they do in AZ because the air’s so thin. It’s an adjustment you've to make."

Peavy well-known he'd rather modify from AZ to CA conditions than have it the other way around. As opening day arrives Monday for both teams -- the A’s at residence and Giants in Milwaukee -- improving on their Cactus League pitching numbers would seem a likely -- and necessary -- result.

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