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Winn seeking bounce-back after consecutive rough Giants outings

Winn seeking bounce-back after consecutive rough Giants outings originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

On a pitching staff headlined by big-name starters and a top prospect, Keaton Winn can fly under the radar.

Winn never has had the same pedigree as Logan Webb, Kyle Harrison, Blake Snell or the rest of the Giants’ starting pitchers. Through his first six starts of the 2024 season, however, Winn was a reliable arm that manager Bob Melvin could trust while the rest of the group was derailed by injuries.

Winn sported a 3.18 ERA in his first six starts this season and opponents were batting .198 off him. From April 17 to April 28, Winn allowed three total runs over a stretch of a three-start span where he pitched six innings each time. Then came the Giants’ dreaded 10-game road trip.

By even getting through the first inning Thursday, Winn already had pitched longer than his previous start. The beginning of his outing in the Giants’ 9-1 loss to the Colorado Rockies on Thursday at Coors Field was merely a mirage of what was to come. Winn allowed eight hits and seven earned runs in 3 2/3 innings, highlighted by a fourth inning where the Rockies took advantage of mistakes, especially early in the count.

“First three innings were good,” Melvin said to reporters in Denver. “And then just some balls in the middle of the plate. It was splits, it was sliders, it was fastballs, it was everything. Sometimes here it can get contagious and you make bad pitches – it happened pretty quickly.”

That’s underplaying it if we’re going to be honest here.

Six Rockies hitters had come up before Winn recorded a single out in the fourth inning. The Rockies in that short amount of time knocked six hits off Win for six runs and had seen a total of 10 pitches. Those six hits – two singles, two doubles, a triple and a homer – came off three splitters, two sinkers and a slider. All were up in the strike zone and most were elevated, an area you want to avoid in the Colorado altitude.

Coming into Thursday, Winn had thrown the highest percentage of splitters among all starters in baseball. No matter the team and no matter the ballpark, the pitch isn’t going to work where Winn was putting it in that dreaded fourth inning.

The Rockies saw 22 splitters from Winn on Thursday and swung at 13. They missed only three times on his most-used pitch.

This is two straight starts, both Giants losses, where Winn was off his game. By a lot, too.

He gave up five earned runs without making it out of the first inning on Sunday in Philadelphia. Winn in his last two starts now has thrown a total of 4 1/3 innings. The Phillies and Rockies combined to record 12 hits off him and score 12 earned runs in those two brief outings.

The offense went flat for long stretches in this grueling trip of playing 10 road games in 10 days. Several starters were knocked out of games early, including Winn. The last thing he wants to be is the odd man out.

Melvin will have some tough decisions to make in regard to his starting rotation, beginning Sunday when Snell could return from the IL. Winn pitched through an illness and bad field conditions on a wet and rainy day at Citizens Bank Park in his last start and then was the recipient of the Coors Field confines Thursday.

Players, coaches and everybody else can’t wait to be back in San Francisco at Oracle Park, starting Friday night against the Cincinnati Reds. Winn is a big part of that contingent, and after two unencouraging showings in a row, the third time will have to be a charm, sparking a fire lit by years of a heated rivalry when he faces the Los Angeles Dodgers and their lineup of horrors next Tuesday night.

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