SF Giants: Mauricio Dubón optioned to Triple-A in surprising move
In a sense, the move is surprising because when the season began, the Giants expected Dubón to be a key cog. However, his 2021 season has not gone according to plan.
Last night, the writing was on the wall against the Los Angeles Dodgers when Giants manager Gabe Kapler seemed reluctant to use either Dubón or Austin Slater as a pinch-hitter late in the game. The Giants struggled badly with runners in scoring position and lost to the Dodgers by a score of 3-2.
On two separate occasions, Kapler went with the less optimal matchup. The first was when Alex Dickerson was allowed to face a left-handed reliever in Victor Gonzalez. Since coming over to the Giants in 2019, the left-handed bat has rarely faced off against a southpaw as he did on Monday night.
The second occasion was when Curt Casali was used as a pinch-hitter in the top of the eighth but struck out. Casali has always had suspect bat-to-ball skills yet it was telling that Kapler went with him with a runner at second base and third base and only one out, which is a situation that calls for contact.
Kapler’s reluctance to use either Dubón or Slater could be a sign that the team’s confidence in both players is eroding. Dubón has more positional versatility than Slater, so it is mildly surprising that he was the first of the two to be optioned.
At the plate, the right-handed bat has slashed .234/.272/.373 (78 OPS+) with five home runs and 20 RBI. Furthermore, he has struggled to control the strike zone as he has posted a 4.7 percent walk rate against a 22.5 percent strikeout rate.
His overall line is not terrible, but he has just eight hits in 39 at-bats in the month of June while adding little power. Playing time has been hard to come by as the Giants have not faced many lefties in June, which is when he is typically expected to be in the lineup.
On the other hand, Estrada has been on fire in Triple-A. San Francisco acquired the middle infielder from the New York Yankees in exchange for cash in April to give them an extra glove at shortstop. Since then, the 25-year-old has been a spark plug for the Sacramento River Cats’ lineup as he has registered a .385/.448/.609 line with seven home runs, 32 runs, and 33 RBI. His home run total is one shy of his career-high in the minors.
On top of this, Estrada brings good bat-to-ball skills and a decent eye as he has posted a 14.4 percent strikeout rate against a 9.2 percent walk rate. In the batter’s box, Estrada’s approach is similar to Donovan Solano’s in that he is looking to swing the bat and sprays the ball all over the field.
The question remains, how do the Giants plan to use Estrada? As an infielder who bats from the right side, he is blocked by Solano and Wilmer Flores. However, the River Cats used him in left field in a game recently, which could serve as an indicator for what the Giants may do with him. If Estrada sounds familier to Giants fans, it is because he was briefly promoted earlier in the year, recording one hitless at-bat. Hopefully, Giants fans see more of him this time around.