5 SF Giants ZIPS Takeaways:
Negative: The Rest Of The Starters
Outside of Gausman and Webb, Sean Hjelle is the only pitcher projected to produce more than 1.0 wins above replacement in 2021. Hjelle is one of the Giants best pitching prospects and was considered a quick-moving prospect when he was drafted, but he also was one of the organization’s few top prospects to not appear at either the alternate site over the summer or instructional league in the fall.
Hjelle has been working and developing on his own, but no one has heard much from the seven-foot-tall righty all year. He very well could be ready to pick up right where he left off in 2019 and be on the verge of earning a big-league spot. However, there are far too many unknowns for the Giants to bank on it.
Assuming Hjelle still needs more time to develop in the minor leagues, the next best-projected starter on the roster is Anthony Banda, who re-signed with the Giants on a minor-league contract this offseason. After him, Johnny Cueto and Rico Garcia are tied, projected to produce 0.8 WAR over about 100 innings each. Since the Giants moved Garcia to the bullpen last season, it says something about their lack of depth that he currently projects as their fourth or fifth-best option.
Cueto’s underwhelming projection should not come as a big surprise. He’s nearly five years removed from his last well-rounded season in 2016. For what it’s worth, ZIPS’ projection estimates him to have a 4.66 ERA in 2021, which would be his best ERA in a season since 2018. While it’s obviously a far cry from what the Giants hoped when they signed him to a six-year, $120 million contract in 2015, that would make for a passable fourth or fifth starter.
No one expects the Giants to enter next season without adding some more starters. However, if anyone was still holding out hope that there was enough left in the organization to form a passable rotation, ZIPS reaffirms what everyone else already knew, there is not. It’s just that simple. If the Giants want to be relevant in 2021, they still need multiple substantive additions to their starting rotation.