The San Francisco Giants have added depth in a number of areas. This added depth could have Chris Stratton on the outside looking in.
Even at 28-years-old, San Francisco Giants pitcher Chris Stratton remains an enigma.
At times, Stratton has looked like a quality rotation option. However, at other times, he has struggled in mop-up duty. Stratton has no options remaining, so the Giants will have to figure out exactly who he is by the end of March.
Stratton’s repertoire features a fastball, slider, changeup, and curveball. The curveball is a plus pitch in terms of spin rate. And, it is even more effective if he can locate it.
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The quality of his curveball is exactly why the Giants run the risk of losing him by exposing him to waivers if they do not keep him on the 25-man roster. However, the rotation has a few more options than it did last year when Stratton earned a job out of Spring Training.
Rodriguez and Suarez have options remaining, so they could both start the season in Sacramento. Their roster flexibility is especially important for Stratton. If the Giants do decide to keep Stratton, then it likely means one or both of Rodriguez and Suarez begin the year in AAA.
Outside of the rotation, the Giants have Ty Blach as their long man in the bullpen. Blach excelled in a bullpen role last season while recording a 3.17 ERA as a reliever. Blach can be an effective pitcher if his exposure is limited to one turn through the lineup.
In addition to this, the Giants may even have one of more of their rotation cogs go back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen. Samardzija, Holland, and Pomeranz all have bullpen experience.
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Ultimately, the Giants have a lot of starting pitchers on their roster. Some of these pitchers have roster flexibility with options remaining like Rodriguez and Suarez. Others have role versatility with experience in the rotation and bullpen like Samardzija, Pomeranz, and Holland.
Stratton is not the only player who might be on the bubble. He is not the only player without options remaining and a mixed track record in terms of on-field production. However, his role on the 2019 roster remains cloudy.
Stratton appears to be the 7th or 8th option in the rotation as currently constructed. He had a strong finish last season after working with Ryan Vogelsong. Though, September performances can be misleading and he has rarely shown the consistency to stick.
Farhan Zaidi likes his depth. He has added starting pitching depth at the minor league and major league levels. With a glut of starting pitchers, Stratton’s may be on the bubble this spring. He would really need to leapfrog some pitchers with more experience and a better track record.
Stratton does not seem like a candidate for the bullpen either. He has posted a 8.27 ERA as a reliever in 20.2 career major league innings. The sample is small, so conclusions are difficult to draw. Though, it is not a sample that would inspire enough confidence to justify a 25-man roster spot in the bullpen.
Spring training games are right around the corner. So are the camp battles that emerge from these games. With no options remaining, Stratton has a tough battle ahead of him. The San Francisco Giants will have a decision to make on Stratton shortly. It will not be an easy decision, and he will need to force his way on to the roster.