San Francisco Giants Post Winter Meetings Roster Needs: Starting Rotation
By John Wilhelmsson
In talking about the San Francisco Giants starting rotation it seems fitting to begin with the Mark Twain inspired quote: “Reports of my demise may have been greatly exaggerated.”
Fitting both because the appropriateness of the thought and the resemblance of the San Francisco Giants ace starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner to America’s favorite down home literary sage.
For all the recent talk of the need of “Openers” one would think that the Giants are in a similar position to their cross-bay rival A’s with only 3 starting pitchers listed on their depth chart. However, The Giants, in fact, have 6 pitchers on their roster right now who started at least 10 games last year along with a promising rookie waiting in the wings and an accomplished veteran schedule back from injury late in the season.
The ace of the Giants starting rotation is, of course, the almost legendary Madison Bumgarner. While some point to his injuries of the last two seasons and recent decline in velocity as signs of his demise both injuries, with apologies to Tim Lincecum, were “freak” in nature and Bumgarner has never really been a power pitcher in any case.
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Jeff Samardzija is the other veteran in the Giants starting rotation who has suffered through injury the last two seasons with the difference here being that his sore right arm is still a bit of a mystery. Yet if that mystery can be solved and “The Shark” returns to his inning eating ways of the past the Giants starting rotation has a chance to be solid.
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Youngsters Dereck Rodriguez and Andrew Suarez both got their first real taste of major league experience last season with Rodriguez posting a 6-4 record with a 2.81 ERA and Suarez, who perhaps has the best pure stuff in the Giants starting rotation, also pitching very effectively at times.
Swingmen Chris Stratton and Ty Blach fill out the six pitchers on the Giants roster right now who can start. And with veteran Johnny Cueto scheduled back from injury late in the year and promising prospect Shaun Anderson also in the mix the Giants starting rotation has a nice mixture of old and young and lefties and righties.
The real questions here are the health of the older guys and the development of the younger ones. If Samardzija comes to spring training feeling good and Cueto recoveries well and comes back strong late in the year the Giants rotation has a chance to be something special.
Yet, since there are a lot of “ifs” here, any fair analysis must point to the need to add some insurance in case things do not go as planned. And I am sure the Giants will bring in some veteran starters (at least as non-roster spring training invitees) and may even make a big splash by signing lefty Yusei Kikuchi (formerly of the Seibu Lions).
Another often overlooked factor here is the ability of younger players to sometimes inspire older players to their past glory. And if the Giants, both as a whole and in their starting rotation, can get such a synergy happening, as our friend Mark Twain might put it: “The warmest winter a Giants fan ever spent might very well be this summer in San Francisco.”