How Gabe Kapler is mismanaging the SF Giants pitching staff: Rest
This, perhaps more than any other trend, should concern Giants fans the most. Odds are, rosters will be smaller following this strange pandemic-impacted season. Given commissioner Rob Manfred’s focus on limiting pitching changes, a cap on pitchers on the roster wouldn’t be shocking either.
Yet even with an abnormally large pitching staff, Kapler’s rest management has been questionable. The Giants have selected Andrew Suarez’s contract twice from the alternate site, but he’s yet to appear in a game.
Obviously Suarez wasn’t going to be a go-to high-leverage option, but in two of the team’s games at Coors Field, Kapler went to other southpaws (Caleb Baragar, Conner Menez, and Sam Selman) while the team trailed. It seemed logical to use Suarez and save his other arms since Suarez was set to be optioned as soon as rosters contracted from 30 to 28 just a day later.
Even with 16 pitchers for much of the season, Kapler has turned to the same pitchers on back-to-back days over and over again. Listed below are all the Giants relievers who have pitched on back-to-back days this season (with their total appearances in parenthesis).
Tyler Rogers: 3 (10)
Shaun Anderson: 3 (10)
Wandy Peralta: 3 (10)
Rico Garcia: 2 (9)
Tony Watson: 1 (5)
Trevor Gott: 1 (6)
Sam Selman: 1 (6)
Even after Anderson and Peralta added 1.1 shutout innings in Wednesday’s loss to the Astros, the bullpen’s ERA on back-to-back outings is 8.76. It’s obviously been a small-sample thus far and ERA can be a particularly misleading statistic for relievers. However, it aligns with eons of baseball wisdom. Pitching on back-to-back days is going to generally lead to worse outcomes.
It’s weird to see Kapler making this mistake given his focus on preventing starters from facing opposing lineups a third time. The premise is very similar. Whether a pitcher is a starter or reliever, they generally get worse the more they pitch.
To be fair, the team has been relatively limited with righthanded relievers. While there were still some questionable decisions, it’s easier to justify Anderson, Rogers, and Garcia’s places higher on the list. At the same time, it’s what makes Peralta’s presence so confusing.
Kapler has clearly not viewed Peralta as a high-leverage arm from his usage, yet even with a glut of southpaws on the roster, has gone to him multiple times on back-to-back days. It’s setting him up for failure.
Giants relievers flood the league’s leaderboard for appearances on the season. Since the team eased in starters, that is to be expected to a certain degree. However, Kapler hasn’t done his bullpen any favors. Wasting Suarez’s time on the roster is a prime example.
Perhaps Kapler is still adjusting to the Giants roster amidst a new season. If that’s the case, fans should hope to see some of these alarming trends disappear sooner rather than later.