Handing out the first-half awards

  • GM 37
  • W 4
  • L 3
  • BB 9
  • K 30
  • ERA 5.19

Back in spring training, I heard these words of wisdom from a general manager who understood them all too well: "When your closer stinks," he said, "your team stinks." Well, Sergio Romo's stinkage attack might not be the only explanation for how the Giants made a 9.5-game lead in the NL West disappear in a little over three weeks. But the stunning self-destruction of their closer in that time wasn't exactly an unrelated development. As recently as June 12, the Giants were 43-24 and still 8.5 games up. The next two days, Romo took leads into the ninth against the Rockies and didn't just blow two crushing save opportunities. He allowed seven runs -- in a span of 11 hitters. And the Giants have been feeling the tremors on their personal Richter scales ever since. Romo's troubles had actually already begun. He has a 9.42 ERA dating to May 20. He's been scored on seven times in his last 16 trips to the mound. And most ominous of all, his once-unhittable slider keeps coming down in somebody's popcorn box. Last year, according to TruMedia, Romo allowed zero home runs and a .191 slugging percentage with that slider. This year, he's served up six home runs and a .521 slugging percentage on the very same pitch. And he's almost reached the point where he should never face a left-handed hitter. They're hitting .462 and slugging 1.231 against his one dominating out pitch. Last year's numbers: .219 and .313. Now maybe Romo will find his way out of this. But then again, his strikeout rate the last four seasons has plummeted from 13.1 per nine innings to 10.2, to 8.7, to 7.8 this year. So maybe not. In the meantime, the Giants are the latest example of my new favorite baseball maxim: When your closer stinks, your team stinks. There's a song in there someplace.

Cys of relief for: Trevor Cahill, Edwin Jackson.

AL Cy Yuk: Ubaldo Jimenez, Orioles

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