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San Francisco Giants: Did the opener experiment ruin Nick Vincent?

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - MAY 14: Nick Vincent #61 of the San Francisco Giants throws a pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays in the first inning of their MLB game at Oracle Park on May 14, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - MAY 14: Nick Vincent #61 of the San Francisco Giants throws a pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays in the first inning of their MLB game at Oracle Park on May 14, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images)
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San Francisco Giants reliever Nick Vincent looked like one of the best bargain signings of the offseason before things went south in a hurry.

The San Francisco Giants have been as active as any team in baseball when it comes to scouring the scrap heap for potential value.

That started well before Opening Day, with new team president Farhan Zaidi casting a wide net during the offseason in search of complementary roster pieces.

It’s an exhausting process that rarely bears fruit, but all it takes is finding one low-cost diamond in the rough to make it a worthwhile endeavor.

Nick Vincent looked like one of those diamonds in the rough.

A workhorse during his time with the Seattle Mariners, Vincent averaged 64 appearances while posting a 3.62 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 8.5 K/9 over the past three seasons.

Despite that solid showing, he was forced to settle for a minor league deal during the offseason. He won a spot on the San Francisco Giants roster out of camp as a non-roster invitee and is earning a modest $1.75 million this season on a one-year deal.

The 32-year-old was terrific in his first 14 appearances in a Giants uniform, posting a 2.25 ERA and holding opposing hitters to a .231 batting average while recording more than three outs nine different times.

That ability to pitch multiple innings made him the perfect candidate to serve as an opener when the San Francisco Giants finally decided to give that strategy a try for the first time on May 14.

The experiment didn’t work. Vincent allowed four hits and three earned runs in the first inning and the Giants lost 7-3, and he has not been the same since.

In three standard relief appearances since working as the opener, he has allowed the following eyesore of a stat line:

  • 5.2 IP, 11 H, 10 ER, 4 HR, 2 BB, 5 K

With that, his ERA has skyrocketed to 5.58, and things went from bad to worse on Wednesday when he exited the game with an apparent neck injury.

While nothing has been announced yet, there’s a good chance he too is headed for the injured list. Even if his neck is fine, it will serve as an opportunity to clear his mind and reset.

The Giants can afford to be patient and see if he bounces back. At the same time, they don’t have much money committed to him and there’s a good chance he won’t be around next season anyway, so they could easily cut ties if he doesn’t right the ship upon returning to action.

Next. Building a trade with the New York Yankees

Trying the opener was the right move for the San Francisco Giants and Nick Vincent looked like the perfect guy for the job. Two weeks later, he looks like a different pitcher, and it can be traced back to that outing.

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