The SF Giants were dealt a tough blow as it was announced that Brandon Belt would hit the injured list with a fractured thumb according to Alex Pavlovic of NBS Sports Bay Area. The injury occurred on Sunday when Belt was hit on the thumb by Colorado Rockies pitching Lucas Gilbreath.
SF Giants: Brandon Belt hits IL with fractured thumb
The transaction puts an end to Belt’s regular season but there is some hope that he could return at some point in the playoffs. The timing could not have been worse not only because the postseason is right around the corner, but because the left-handed slugger was in the midst of one of his most prolonged hot streaks in his career.
On the year, the 33-year-old has slashed .274/.378/.597 (159 OPS+) with 29 home runs, 59 RBI, and 65 runs scored while being worth 2.5 WAR across 381 plate appearances. However, Belt has been even better lately, posting a 1.085 OPS with 18 home runs since returning from a knee injury in early August.
That level of production will be extremely difficult to replace. For the time being, LaMonte Wade Jr. and Darin Ruf will be tasked with replacing Belt at first base. Of course, Ruf is currently on the injured list with an oblique strain but he is expected to return before the end of the season.
It is possible that Giants fans have seen the last of Belt with San Francisco as his contract is set to expire at the end of the season. Given how he has flourished since Gabe Kapler and his coaching staff took over the reins before the 2020 season, it is likely that the Giants will have interest in a reunion.
That said, Belt will hit the market as one of the best first basemen available, so he should have plenty of interested suitors.
In his place, the Giants recalled versatile infielder Thairo Estrada from Triple-A. That seemed to be the likely move as Estrada was not in Monday night’s lineup for the Sacramento River Cats. The 25-year-old has impressed in a small sample, recording an .814 OPS with seven home runs while appearing at five different positions for the Giants in 2021.
The Giants have dealt with tough injuries all season and that has not slowed them down yet. However, the team’s depth and roster strength will be tested as they will be entering the playoffs without one of their best hitters. They may be able to weather this injury but it will be one of their toughest challenges yet.