SF Giants: Has the starting rotation run out of options?

ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 27: Kevin Gausman #34 delivers a pitch in the first inning of an MLB game against the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park on August 27, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 27: Kevin Gausman #34 delivers a pitch in the first inning of an MLB game against the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park on August 27, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /
SF Giants
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – AUGUST 26: Jose Quintana #62 of the Los Angeles Angels pitches against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 26, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) /

The SF Giants starting pitching depth took a hit recently with Alex Wood being placed on the COVID-IL, whereas Johnny Cueto hit the injured list with an elbow injury. On top of this, Kevin Gausman and Anthony DeSclafani seem to be battling nagging injuries as well. Following Caleb Baragar‘s promotion, who might be able to help out the starting rotation? The remaining options suggest that they have nearly run out.

SF Giants: Starting pitching depth running very low

José Quintana

The most obvious answer is José Quintana. The Giants placed a claim on the left-handed hurler on Monday, thereby assuming the remainder of the $8 million owed to him. Given the financial investment, the front office is banking on a rebound from Quintana.

The 32-year-old posted a 6.75 ERA in 53.1 innings with the Angels this season, but he has already recorded 3.1 scoreless frames in his first game with the Giants. Interestingly, Quintana struggled badly as a starter (8.23 ERA), but he pitched effectively as a reliever (3.32 ERA). The Giants will likely be in a position where Quintana is used as a swingman.

Matt Shoemaker

The Tyler Chatwood experiment has already come and gone, but the Giants still have veteran pitcher Matt Shoemaker in the organization. Chatwood and Shoemaker were both reeled in on minor league contracts shortly after the trade deadline.

Chatwood got a shot but he was released after just two appearances. Could Shoemaker be next? The right-handed pitcher struggled to the tune of an 8.06 ERA in 60.1 innings with the Minnesota Twins this year and he has allowed 15 earned runs in 18.1 innings with the Sacramento River Cats so far. His performance does not necessarily merit a promotion but he has the experience and the Giants might be forced to see what he has left.

Sean Hjelle

Giants fans are excited to see when Sean Hjelle finally pitches at Oracle Park, but they might have to wait a little longer. The 6-foot-11 pitcher earned a promotion to Triple-A earlier this season and he has posted rough results, registering a 6.65 ERA in four starts with the River Cats. Hjelle has only recorded nine strikeouts in that time, which is something to monitor.

The front office is content with the 40-man roster and they have been hesitant to remove anyone from it unless necessary. Given that there are no roster spots, the Giants will likely not add Hjelle to the 40-man roster because his performance has not warranted a promotion yet.

Conner Menez

Old friend Conner Menez is still in the mix after being placed on waivers earlier in the year. The left-handed hurler went unclaimed and accepted an assignment to Triple-A. After posting a 3.86 ERA in 14 frames with the Giants, things have not gone as planned for the 26-year-old pitcher in Sacramento.

Similar to Hjelle, Menez has struggled in Triple-A, registering a 6.21 ERA across 29 frames. It seems that the Giants want to continue using Menez out of the bullpen even though he has been a starter for much of his career.

Of course, Scott Kazmir is still with the organization as well. Similar to just about every other pitcher in Triple-A, Kazmir has struggled in a River Cats uniform. This is due in part to the fact that Triple-A West is a hitter’s league. However, the Giants had Kazmir appear in three games earlier in the year and the results were not encouraging.

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So, there you have it. The Giants still have one month remaining in the season and they have run low on starting pitching. The organizational options are not the most promising, but the hope is one of these pitchers hits a groove right after getting promoted. The Giants have been creative in managing the pitching staff this year and they might have to think even more outside-of-the-box as they prepare for a playoff run.