Kickham debut: A few bright spots among a world of hurt

Looking at this outing as a spot start from a non-prospect might help this hurt a little less. But the truth is Kickham is the consensus No. 3 pitcher in the Giants farm system and, at 24, is eight months older than Madison Bumgarner. On the scatterplot of outcomes I had drawn up for this game, this one falls under “AW FRICK C’MON JEEZ”.

Kickham looked steady early, slowly unleashing an arsenal of breaking pitches to back up his 91-94 MPH fastball. Two straight sliders made Chris Young looks silly and a third did the same to Nate Freiman. His curveball and changeup were let go in the third inning, with both pitches getting swinging strikes.

Now on to the bad. After a challenge fastball to Derek Norris was sent into the left-field bleachers, Kickham earned himself a big-league ERA. He was behind in the count 3-1, and Norris easily caught up to 91 over the plate. Then things fell apart in the third inning when his command abandoned him, with Kickham issuing a walk to Chris Young. A Cespedes double and an intentional walk later, Kickham had his opportunities against Jed Lowrie with the bases loaded. But a 3-2 walk on a close pitch sealed the fate for the young lefty.

A Nate Freiman single would end Kickham’s night, with Bruce Bochy removing the starter with this line:

2.1 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 3K

As was mentioned earlier, Kickham is a lock to get at least one more start. The Giants have several off-days in early June and could make do with a four-man rotation, but a lot of that will come down to all five starters’ performance over the next week. If the bullpen can get rested by June 3rd, I don’t see any reason to push Kickham any further.