The SF Giants continue to experiment with starting pitching depth by planning to stretch out one of their newest additions. Newly-signed righty Shun Yamaguchi should see a starter’s workload during the Cactus League with the hopes of making the club as Mark Sanchez of KNBR reports.
Yamaguchi’s contract contains an opt-out clause near the end of spring training that he could exercise if he does not make the club. That said, if a member of the Giants current rotation suffers an injury or struggles, he could receive an opportunity.
New SF Giants addition, RHP Shun Yamaguchi, to be stretched out as a starter.
Starting is not new territory for the right-handed hurler. After all, his arm has seen over 1,200 innings of work in the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization. He came over to the United States last offseason after signing a two-year, $6.35 million contract with the Toronto Blue Jays.
With Toronto, he worked exclusively out of the bullpen to disastrous results as he registered an 8.06 ERA, 6.42 FIP, 1.75 WHIP, and a 1.53 SO/W ratio across 25.2 frames. Still, it was a small sample and for someone traveling to a new country and league, Yamaguchi was thrust into the COVID-19 pandemic hampered season with an abbreviated summer camp and plenty of unusual circumstances.
No one in baseball was really set up for success, so Yamaguchi may be better than what his numbers ultimately showed. However, the Blue Jays decided to part with him last week, which made him a free agent after he went unclaimed on waivers.
The idea of stretching him out as a starter is an interesting one. Yamaguchi’s arsenal includes a low-90’s fastball that he pairs with a slider, split-finger, and an occasional curveball. The spin rates on all of his pitches rate as below-average, which combined with an average fastball, creates very little margin for error.
Nevertheless, the righty posted a solid 21.4 percent strikeout rate in 2020, so perhaps there is more than meets the eye. Yamaguchi joins a clustered rotation mix that includes Johnny Cueto, Kevin Gausman, Aaron Sanchez, Logan Webb, Anthony DeSclafani, Alex Wood, and Scott Kazmir.
Realistically, the 33-year-old is competing with the likes of Kazmir and a bunch of minor-league signings for a bulk innings role out of the bullpen. If Shun Yamaguchi performs, it seems like the door is open for him to make the SF Giants out of camp.