SF Giants: Projecting The 2021 Starting Rotation With DeSclafani
By Jeff Young
The SF Giants added another starting pitcher this week, but how close is their rotation to a finished product?
On the heels of signing starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani to a one-year, $6 million pact, the 2021 SF Giants starting rotation is starting to take shape. As currently constructed, the Giants have Johnny Cueto, Logan Webb, Kevin Gausman, and DeSclafani tabbed as the top four starters in the rotation. Furthermore, right-handed hurler, Tyler Beede should return from Tommy John surgery early next season.
Below is how each pitcher performed in 2020 with the exclusion of Beede since he missed the entire season:
- Cueto: 5.40 ERA, 4.64 FIP, 1.38 WHIP, 20.2 percent strikeout rate, 9.4 percent walk rate, and 40.8 percent ground ball rate in 63.1 innings.
- Webb: 5.47 ERA, 4.17 FIP, 1.56 WHIP, 18.7 percent strikeout rate, 9.8 percent walk rate, and a 51.8 percent ground ball rate in 54.1 innings.
- Gausman: 3.62 ERA, 3.09 FIP, 1.10 WHIP. 32.2 percent strikeout rate, 6.5 percent walk rate, and a 41.9 percent groundball rate in 59.2 innings.
- DeSclafani: 7.22 ERA, 6.10 FIP, 1.69 WHIP, 15.8 percent strikeout rate, 10.1 percent walk rate, 38.9 percent ground ball rate in 33.2 innings.
On the surface, these are not the most promising stats, but everyone was working out of a relatively small sample. Plus, if you believe in FIP, then both Cueto and Webb pitched much better than their respective ERA would suggest.
However, as Mark W. Sanchez of KNBR pointed out the organizational depth beyond these five names is extremely light. On the 40-man roster, only Shaun Anderson and Conner Menez could make spot starts if needed. Beyond this, Sean Hjelle and Tristan Back could force their way into the conversation as next season progresses, but that’s far from a guarantee.
Between Cueto, Gausman, Webb, and DeSclafani, the Giants can possibly pencil in about 25 starts apiece. Beede might be able to make another 15 starts as well. In total, that is 115 starts. If the season goes for a full 162 games, San Francisco will need to prepare for another 47 starts.
Where does that come from? It means that the front office still has plenty of work to do. To their credit, they are aware of this as well:
According to Spotrac, San Francisco has roughly $60 million available to spend below the Competitive Balance Tax (CBT). That sounds like a lot of money to spend, but that does not necessarily mean that they will spend the entire amount of that. We do not know what their projected payroll is going to be in 2021, but they have already committed $25 million to Gausman, DeSclafani, and Matt Wisler for 2021 in this offseason.
They could make one more notable addition to the rotation before next year gets underway. However, given the reasons to be skeptical of DeSclafani, they could also look to distribute their budget to multiple starters, potentially opening the door for Webb to be optioned to the minor leagues, and decrease their reliance on the other arms that struggled in 2020.
Last season, Trevor Cahill and Tyson Ross were a couple of examples of smaller depth moves they made last winter on minor league deals. Reuniting with Tyler Anderson might be that type of move this offseason. Those model of contracts should be expected as well.
That said, the current iteration is not a finished product by any means, but they have a rough draft of what next year’s rotation might look like. Either way, the SF Giants will still be in the market for more arms as this slow offseason continues and pitchers look to sign on with a team before Spring Training begins.