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San Francisco Giants: 5 most important players for the second half

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 03: Joe Panik #12 of the San Francisco Giants is congratulated by Buster Posey #28 after he hit a home run in the fourth inning against the Seattle Mariners at AT&T Park on April 3, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 03: Joe Panik #12 of the San Francisco Giants is congratulated by Buster Posey #28 after he hit a home run in the fourth inning against the Seattle Mariners at AT&T Park on April 3, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – MAY 10: Dereck Rodriguez #57 of the San Francisco Giants pitches during the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Oracle Park on May 10, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – MAY 10: Dereck Rodriguez #57 of the San Francisco Giants pitches during the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Oracle Park on May 10, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

SP Dereck Rodriguez

San Francisco Giants fans and the front office alike believed they had found a diamond in the rough when Dereck Rodriguez came out of nowhere to emerge as the team’s best pitcher in 2018.

However, a slow start to the 2019 season saw him relegated to the minor leagues, and now there’s a real question of how he fits into the team’s long-term plans.

The son of Hall of Fame catcher Ivan Rodriguez, Dereck was signed as a minor league free agent on Nov. 15, 2017, after starting his career in the Minnesota Twins organization.

He was thrust into action to help the injury-riddled starting staff and quickly emerged as one of the best young pitchers in baseball, posting a 2.81 ERA with 89 strikeouts in 118.1 innings over 19 starts. Even with his low strikeout rate, the Giants believed that they had found a future piece of their starting rotation and rightfully so.

However, he’s been a different pitcher in 2019.

After posting a 5.05 ERA with 28 strikeouts 17 walks in 41 innings, he was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento to work on his command. He was recalled two weeks later and relegated to mop-up duty out of the bullpen.

He was optioned again on July 1, this time with the intention of getting him regular work as a starter. With Madison Bumgarner destined to be wearing a different jersey come August, there will be an open spot in the rotation.

It’s a golden opportunity for Rodriguez to win back his starting spot.

Once he gets sufficiently stretched back out at Triple-A, he can’t squander the opportunity to contribute to a Giants team that needs quality starts. This is his chance to prove he belongs in the rotation the rest of the season and going forward.

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