After a promising rookie campaign, San Francisco Giants left-hander Andrew Suarez experienced a nightmarish 2019 season. Does he have a role in 2020?
However, he failed to carve out a role on the 2019 team, logging a 5.79 ERA in just 32.2 innings.
Things did not go much better at the Triple-A level, where he had a 5.73 ERA and 1.64 WHIP over 88 innings amid an offensive explosion in the Pacific Coast League.
As the Giants continue to add starting pitching depth this offseason, it is fair to wonder what Suarez’s role will be in 2020 as he continues to sink down the team’s depth chart.
Plus, it does not sound like the Giants are done adding rotation depth:
Sadly, Suarez’s name is not even mentioned from the group above.
In 2018, Suarez was a quality starter with good control who relied on inducing weak contact from opposing hitters. However, it became apparent that he did not have a clear out pitch, and he was often hurt by catching too much of the strike zone with his mistakes.
Despite that, the 2018 season looked like a solid foundation for the University of Miami product to build upon. However, development is not always linear, and Suarez took a big step back in 2019.
After struggling through a couple of early season starts, Suarez was relegated to the bullpen, and he spent the bulk of 2019 bouncing between Triple-A and the MLB roster.
The results were mildly better after he moved into a relief role, as he posted a 4.37 ERA in 19 appearances out of the bullpen, but it was still a lost year.
All of that makes it difficult to project his role in 2020.
Suarez is very far down on the starting pitcher depth chart. Currently, the Giants project to start the season with Jeff Samardzija, Johnny Cueto, Kevin Gausman, Drew Smyly, and one of Tyler Beede and Logan Webb in the rotation.
The 23-year-old Webb will likely be on an innings limit in 2020, so Beede has an inside-track for the fifth spot in the rotation.
In addition to that group, Dereck Rodriguez, Tyson Ross, Tyler Anderson, Jake Jewell, and Conner Menez will battle it out with Suarez for spot starts. There is just not a lot of room for Suarez to even compete for a spot as a starter.
With all that being said, the Giants will likely not have all of these pitchers in the organization on Opening Day as Giants team president Farhan Zaidi and general manager Scott Harris continue to churn over the back-end of the 40-man roster.
Still, the best shot for Suarez to make the Giants roster will be as a reliever. The team has a bevy of bullpen options on the 40-man roster, but they are thin of relievers with a proven track record.
Behind them are several relatively unproven options who will vie for a spot in the bullpen, including Burch Smith, Wandy Peralta, Sam Coonrod, Jandel Gustave, Tyler Rogers, Shaun Anderson, and Dany Jimenez.
Jimenez was plucked from the Toronto Blue Jays in the Rule 5 Draft in December, so he should make the Opening Day roster with a decent showing in spring training.
The Giants will also look to add to the bullpen competition as January and February provide opportunities for teams to sign relievers on bargain contracts who are simply looking to showcase their ability in spring training.
At some point, this becomes a numbers game, which would appear to put Suarez on the roster bubble.
Working in his advantage is the fact that he’s left-handed and still has a minor league option remaining, so he carries some roster flexibility, which is something many of the other relievers will not be able to say.
Still, as a draft pick of the previous regime, Zaidi has no direct ties to Suarez and he has proven more than once already that he does not operate on emotional attachments.
All of this makes Suarez an interesting player to watch this spring. The Cactus League can be a cruel environment for a pitch-to-contact hurler like him, and he will need to make a positive impression to keep his roster spot.
In terms of a 2020 role, the left-hander is facing a steep, uphill battle and may need to rely on a rash of injuries and regression from several young pitchers to crack the Giants pitching staff again. At this point, his role is undefined, and he will need to force the Giants to find a role for him next season.