With the additions of Derek Holland and Drew Pomeranz, the San Francisco Giants pitching staff might be more versatile than in previous years.
The Giants have been awfully quiet this offseason. They have added Derek Holland, Drew Pomeranz, Pat Venditte, and a couple of Rule 5 draftees.
However, the Giants now have a rotation that consist of Madison Bumgarner, Andrew Suarez, Dereck Rodriguez, Jeff Samardzija, Holland, and Pomeranz. To a lesser extent, Chris Stratton may be part of this rotation as well. This is not the most exciting rotation, but it does excel in terms of versatility and depth.
Holland and Pomeranz likely will be starters. However, they and Jeff Samardzija have experience pitching out of the bullpen too.
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The days of the 200-inning starter is becoming less common, and teams seek more than 5 starters for their rotation. Teams are aiming to maximize value by managing workloads better. As a result, starting pitchers are not pitching as many innings as they previously did.
With the uncertain health status of Samardzija, and the potential regression for both Rodriguez and Suarez, the San Francisco Giants will need some extra insurance. They have that with Holland and Pomeranz.
Pomeranz, Holland, Rodriguez, Suarez, and Samardzija can be interchangeably used in the bullpen and starting rotation. This is advantageous if one of the starting pitchers sustains an injury, is struggling, or if the Giants want to control the workload, especially for both Rodriguez and Suarez.
In addition to this, Suarez and Rodriguez carry unique versatility by having options remaining. This is important as Zaidi has said he would like to have enough depth to have the flexibility to have one or the other start the season in the minors.
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Flexibility, versatility, and depth are clearly important for Zaidi. Perhaps, he sees it as short-sighted to sign a pitcher with the expectation that the pitcher will eat up 200 innings per year. Starting pitchers can have high variances in production from year to year due to coaching, injuries, regression, or other factors.
Carrying more starting pitchers may be a strategy in accounting for these variances. With more than 5 starting pitchers on the 40-man roster, the San Francisco Giants appear poised to embrace this strategy.
It is likely the Giants will have a starting pitcher or 2 alternate between pitching out of the bullpen and the rotation. This is not a bad thing if they can effectively make the transition between the 2 roles.
Holland, Pomeranz, and to a lesser extent Samardzija have all proven they can make the transition between roles.
This team already has a different feel to it. Pitchers not named Madison Bumgarner will have less defined roles than in years past. Pitchers may be expected to assume different roles.
This is the way the game is changing. It is about being smart with the assets you have, and how to best utilize them to optimize their performance. It may have a different feel in 2019, but it appears the San Francisco Giants are starting to embrace these changes.