SF Giants: The Current State of the Rotation and its Needs

Kevin Gausman #34 of the SF Giants pitches during the game against the Oakland Athletics at RingCentral Coliseum on September 19, 2020. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)
Kevin Gausman #34 of the SF Giants pitches during the game against the Oakland Athletics at RingCentral Coliseum on September 19, 2020. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images) /
SF Giants
SF Giants starting pitcher Kevin Gausman (34) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Oakland Athletics. (Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports) /

The SF Giants starting rotation got some good news on Wednesday, but how much more work does it need.

Heading into the offseason, it was not complicated. The SF Giants most obvious hole was in their starting rotation. Earlier this week, they got some good news on that front when Kevin Gausman accepted his one-year, $18.9 million qualifying offer.

Before retaining Gausman, the rotation was uncomfortably thin. However, there are still a lot of questions surrounding the starting five. The question is not if the team needs more starters, but how many?

As currently constructed, Gausman is the de facto ace of the rotation. Behind him, Johnny Cueto may be the only player guaranteed a rotation spot if healthy. Logan Webb is a heavy favorite to hold down a third, but given his youth and difficulties working deep into games, nothing is guaranteed.

Tyler Beede is expected to return at some point next season from Tommy John surgery and the Giants have to decide whether to tender left-handed hurler Tyler Anderson a contract for 2021. If both are back, they’ll have a chance to compete for spots as well. Granted, if both are in the rotation, it’s hard to feel like the rotation is in great shape.

Let’s assume that the Giants tender a contract for Anderson because they really need innings from any and all starters. That means that they will have Gausman, Cueto, Webb, Beede, and Anderson tabbed to start some percentage of the 162 games next season.

If you figure Gausman and Cueto each make 30 starts and the rest of the group makes 15 a piece, the Giants still have 57 games that the Giants still need to fill. Where do those games come from? Sure, they might be willing to employ openers on occasion, but it’s hard to envision that happening more than 10-15 times.

The Giants are going to spend the rest of the offseason figuring that out. When they went into last season, they were in a similar boat. They had Cueto, Beede, Webb, and Jeff Samardzija tabbed as the rotation incumbents.

However, there were plenty of question marks with that contingent, so they went out and added Anderson, Gausman, Drew Smyly, Trevor Cahill, and Tyson Ross.  Those are five starters with considerable big-league experience.

On top of that, they through brought in Jake Jewell and Trevor Oaks on waiver claims. Both Jewell and Oaks had worked extensively as starters in their respective minor league careers.

So far this offseason, the Giants have expressed interest in bringing back Smyly. Given his injury history, the Giants cannot count on him to make 32 starts in a season, so they would need depth behind the left-handed hurler. That said, he could offer some upside to a rotation that is clearly lacking it.

The offseason rumor mill is just beginning to warm up, but as the Giants have proven in recent years, they will be patient. The bulk of their moves are typically made in January or February, and given the uncertain economic climate of the 2021 season, I would expect the same approach this winter.

Related Story. SF Giants: Tyler Heineman Signs with St. Louis Cardinals

As we have seen with the new SF Giants front office, the pursuit of starting pitching depth is never-ending. If last year’s offseason can be used as a blueprint, then they will likely bring in at least three or four more notable starters before Spring Training gets underway and that is not including any waiver claims they may make.