Looking At The San Francisco Giants’ NLDS Playoff Roster
By Bryan Rose
Now that the regular season has concluded and the postseason picture is clear, Bruce Bochy and company can put together their National League Division Series postseason roster – but the decisions that loom are far from easy. While the majority of the Giants’ starting lineup is set, questions surround the rest of the roster – do the Giants carry 11 or 12 pitchers? Given the Reds success against left handers, does Barry Zito make the rotation? Hell – does he make the roster at all?! What about the Giants’ bench? They’re all situations we’ll look at below – so let’s see where the Giants, specifically Bruce Bochy, could go.
June 28, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford (35) catches a pop fly against the Cincinnati Reds during the fifth inning at AT
From the starting lineup perspective, there are only two questions – what do the Giants do in left field and does Brandon Crawford make the lineup over Joaquín Árias? As it pertains to Crawford, given the Reds right hand heavy starting rotation, Crawford over Arais is a pretty easy decision so that leaves left field as the only looming question. Both Gregor Blanco and Xavier Nady should make the roster, it’s just a matter of who gets the starting nod and given Bochy’s love of all things matchup, we’ll probably see the two split time with Gregor getting the bulk thanks to his defense and left handed bat – so that’s that.
Now what about the Giants’ bench?
We know the Giants are going to need a second catcher – but a rumored third catcher in Eli Whiteside (who’s clearly better than current backup Hector Sanchez, defensively)? I can’t see it. While Bochy has given Whiteside some time in recent days, he’s still only played in five games since July, so being thrust onto the Giants’ postseason seems unlikely. So with Hector Sanchez a given, what other infielders do the Giants carry? The aforementioned Arias is a lock and Mr. Tootblan himself, Ryan Theriot, should also find no trouble in making the roster as pinch hitter – but what about Aubrey Huff? One of the hero’s of 2010 has, after some awful struggles, looked oddly competent after an extended break during his recovery from a handful of nagging injuries. Off the bench in September, Huff went 5 for 13 with two base on balls, boosting a .400+ OBP%, however, the inclusion of Aubrey Huff also requires another roster spot due to the need for a pinch runner. With Emmanuel Burriss, Francisco Peguero and Justin Christian as your only 40-man options, none of the options exactly sexy. Burriss would provide the most “depth/utility” in that scenario, Christian the best speed and Peguero the best defense – however, none of them are players that really deserve a spot on the Giants’ roster. Another issue with Huff being included is the amount of left handed arms in the Reds ‘pen. Huff would be little else than a pinch hitter, so his late inning work would be against elite lefties in Sean Marshall and Aroldis Chapman – not exactly ideal.
That said, the Giants aren’t exactly brimming with offensive options off the bench, so despite the lack of fit, I think the Giants will find difficulty leaving Huff off the roster with Burriss piggybacking as his runner, giving the Giants a bench of:
- Hector Sanchez
- Ryan Theriot
- Aubrey Huff
- Xavier Nady/Gregor Blanco
- Emmanuel Burriss
Looking into the arms, the Giants have a handful of decisions to make – both in the starting rotation and bullpen. For the starters, while there are questions to who between Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong make the rotation (assuming they go with four starters, which isn’t a given) – the main question right now is who starts, where. Matt Cain has already been announced as the Game 1 starter, but who takes the hill in Game 2? Many have suspected Madison Bumgarner would get the nod, but does it benefit the Giants to keep Tim Lincecum out of Great American Ballpark, known for it’s offensive outbursts? Personally, if it was my decision, Lincecum is going in Game 2 with the more reliable Bumgarner opening the series in Cincinnati. Either way, we know Cain, Bumgarner and Lincecum will all get at least one start in the series – leaving both Zito and Vogelsong as the only questions. The Reds do hit left handers well, which doesn’t bode well for Zeets, but Vogelsong out of the ‘pen gives the Giants an emergency arm if a starter struggles so I doubt Bochy is overly concerned about the fourth and fifth starter roles right now, especially in a five game series with a day off after Game 2. The series playing out will dictate what move Bochy makes with his starters.
The bullpen for the Giants is mostly a lock with Sergio Romo, Javier Lopez, Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla and Jose Mijares. With three left handers in the mix, the Giants will need an additional right handed arm with the decision most likely being between cough syrup loving Guillermo Mota or female Giant fan hearthrob, George Kontos. Kontos appeared to be the odd-man out just a few days ago, especially given Bochy’s love of all things veteran, but Mota’s inability to get just about anybody out combined with Kontos’ strong September should give the nod to the Illinois native.
That should leave the Giants with a roster consisting of:
C – Buster Posey, Hector Sanchez
1B – Brandon Belt, Aubrey Huff
2B – Marco Scutaro, Ryan Theriot, Emmanuel Burriss
SS – Brandon Crawford, Joaquin Arias
3B – Pablo Sandoval
OF – Hunter Pence, Angel Pagan, Gregor Blanco, Xavier Nady
SP – Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito, Ryan Vogelsong (most likely in the ‘pen)
RP – Sergio Romo, Javier Lopez, Jeremy Affeldt, Jose Mijares, Santiago Casilla and George Kontos