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SF Giants: Return to Familiar Role for Young Lefty?

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 23: Starting pitcher Caleb Baragar #73 of the San Francisco Giants pitches in the top of the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Oracle Park on September 23, 2020 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 23: Starting pitcher Caleb Baragar #73 of the San Francisco Giants pitches in the top of the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Oracle Park on September 23, 2020 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
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SF Giants
OAKLAND, CA – SEPTEMBER 18: Caleb Baragar #73 of the San Francisco Giants pitches during the game against the Oakland Athletics at RingCentral Coliseum on September 18, 2020 in Oakland, California. The Athletics defeated the Giants 6-0. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)

Spring training is under way for the SF Giants, and manager Gabe Kapler is reconsidering a role for a young southpaw.

Coming off of a solid rookie campaign in 2020 for the SF Giants, Caleb Barager may get stretched out as a starter heading into the 2021 season.

Return to familiar role for young SF Giants lefty

This would not be new territory for Baragar. After being selected in the 9th round of the 2016 draft out of Indiana University – Bloomington, the left-handed hurler worked regularly out of the rotation in the minors, making a total of 71 starts in four seasons.

In that time, Baragar registered a 3.82 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 8.0 K/9, and a solid 2.77 SO/W ratio across 398.2 frames. Interestingly, he began the 2019 season in Single-A but finished the year in Triple-A after posting a strong 3.57 ERA in 141 innings.

He came into camp last year as a non-roster invitee and evidently performed well enough in the shortened summer camp to make the Opening Day roster as a reliever. Similar to many of the young arms in the Giants bullpen last season, Baragar got off to a slow start but finished on a high note that included recording 12 scoreless outings to finish the year.

In total, the 26-year-old finished the year with a 4.03 ERA, 4.04 FIP, 0.98 WHIP, and a 3.80 SO/W ratio. For a rookie, Baragar impressively attacked the zone and earned plenty of praise from Kapler, who did an interview with David Laurila of Fangraphs in the offseason.

Baragar has a good shot at carving out a leverage role in the Giants bullpen for 2021, but it seems as if they will experiment with him stretching out as a starter as well. This makes sense given that the Giants are light on left-handed starters. Outside of Alex Wood and Conner Menez as well as non-roster invitee Anthony Banda, the Giants do not have any starters from the left side in the upper minors.

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For Baragar, a return to the rotation would be a familiar role. The fact that the Giants are considering the idea could also be a sign of how favorably they view the left-handed hurler. Even if he remains in the bullpen, Baragar could still be a bulk-innings reliever and that’s a valuable role since there are not many other options capable of doing that at the moment.

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