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San Francisco Giants: Andrew Suarez proves Triple-A stats wrong

SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 17: Andrew Suarez #59 of the San Francisco Giants pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on September 17, 2018 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 17: Andrew Suarez #59 of the San Francisco Giants pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on September 17, 2018 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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The San Francisco Giants got an unexpectedly solid start from Andrew Suarez on Monday night.

With a slot to fill in the rotation and limited options on the 40-man roster, the San Francisco Giants turned to Andrew Suarez for a spot start on Monday night.

The 26-year-old was a staple in the team’s rotation as a rookie last season.  He made 29 starts and posted a respectable 4.49 ERA and 1.30 WHIP with 130 strikeouts, while his 160.1 innings of work were good for second on the team.

However, with Derek Holland re-signed, Drew Pomeranz added in free agency and the trio of Madison Bumgarner, Jeff Samardzija and Dereck Rodriguez all locked into rotation spots to begin the year, Suarez was sent to Triple-A to start the 2019 season.

Expected to be a valuable depth arm and the first man called on when a spot in the rotation opened up, he instead struggled to a 6.33 ERA and 1.70 WHIP over his first six starts.

As a result, the Giants first turned to prospects Tyler Beede and Shaun Anderson to provide reinforcement to the MLB rotation, before injuries and ineffectiveness from various starters finally left them with nowhere else to turn on Monday.

While little was expected of Suarez given his struggles in the minors, manager Bruce Bochy tried to put a positive spin on things:

“A change like this, especially for a guy who’s made as many starts as he has, can be pretty uplifting and fire him up,” Bochy told reporters before Monday’s game.

And wouldn’t you know it, he was right.

In a 4-1 loss where the Giants offense managed just two hits, Suarez was a legitimate bright spot, tossing six innings and allowing four hits, four walks and three earned runs while striking out five.

He took the loss and was far from dominant, but he gave the Giants a chance to win. That’s more than can be said for most of the team’s starting pitching efforts so far this season.

To that point, with a Game Score of 55, his outing on Monday was tied for the team’s 16th-best start of the season through 46 games.

Again, not an overpowering performance by any means, but good enough given the circumstances, and more than good enough to earn him another turn in the rotation.

So let that serve as a cautionary tale. Minor league numbers don’t always tell the full story, and it’s never a given that a player will have the same success or endure the same struggles he did in Triple-A once he’s called up to join the MLB roster.

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After all, the San Francisco Giants front office and fan base alike would be wise to keep an open mind when it comes to young players who can help in any way for 2019 and beyond.

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