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The Not-So-Kind Projections For SF Giants Pitchers

Johnny Cueto #47 of the SF Giants pitches against the San Diego Padres at Oracle Park on September 26, 2020. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Johnny Cueto #47 of the SF Giants pitches against the San Diego Padres at Oracle Park on September 26, 2020. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
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SF Giants starting pitcher Logan Webb pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the top of the fifth inning at Oracle Park on September 28, 2019. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

The SF Giants are very thin on pitching depth heading into the 2021 season, and projections are coming out that, not surprisingly, confirm this.

Michael Simione of SP Streamer came out with his top 100 pitchers for 2021 based on projection models, and no SF Giants pitcher currently under contract for next season made the cut.

As currently constructed, the Giants only have Johnny Cueto and Logan Webb penciled in to anchor next year’s rotation. Tyler Beede should return at some point as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.

Another Tyler, Tyler Anderson, is eligible for arbitration, and it makes sense for the Giants to tender the left-handed hurler a contract for 2021. Outside of these options, the rest of the rotation is a huge question mark.

The fact that no Giants pitcher made the cut should hardly be surprising. After all, Cueto’s 5.40 ERA across 63.1 frames in 2020 was the highest mark in the National League among qualified pitchers.

Webb, who fell just short of the innings needed to qualify, had an even higher 5.47 ERA across 54.1 innings.

These are not encouraging numbers, but I guess it can only go up from here! On that same note, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has already identified starting pitching depth as one of the team’s top priorities heading into this offseason.

The one caveat to the list is that both Kevin Gausman and Drew Smyly appeared in the top-100 at no. 59 and no. 75, respectively. Meaning the Giants showed the ability to identify potential starters last offseason.

Gausman was outstanding as he posted a 3.62 ERA (3.09 FIP) with a stout 32.2 percent strikeout rate against a 6.5 percent walk rate across 59.2 innings.

Smyly was even more effective with a 3.42 ERA (2.01 FIP) with an absurdly high 37.8 percent strikeout rate to go along with an 8.1 percent walk rate but was limited to a much smaller sample of 26.1 innings due to injuries.

The stuff has never been an issue for the lefty, but durability remains a concern. If Smyly is healthy, it is very easy to envision him being way better than the 75th-best pitcher in baseball. However, SP Streamer’s projection factored in his injury history into the 2021 projections.

The Giants have already expressed interest in retaining both arms. With that being said, they should see strong markets in free agency, so bringing them back is not a given. If they do, that is great. However, it is going to cost the Giants.

While projections remain an inexact science, teams use various projection models when making decisions on free agents. Either way, the Giants rotation is projected to struggle badly, if they do not get outside help.

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San Francisco may be able to reel in its two key free agents, but they have a lot of work to do outside of that as well. With Zaidi at the helm, we have learned to expect the unexpected. There will be some creative roster moves to bolster the SF Giants rotation this offseason. Otherwise, they’ll be dead in the water before Opening Day.

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