Did the SF Giants make a mistake by not promoting pitching prospect Mason Black?

However, whenever a start from outside the original five has been needed the Giants have turned to veteran Daulton Jefferies over younger and more exciting prospects to disastrous results.
San Francisco Giants v San Diego Padres
San Francisco Giants v San Diego Padres / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages

SF Giants starter Daulton Jefferies, 28, predictably struggled once again on Wednesday night as he gave up four earned runs through 2.2 innings bringing his season ERA to 17.36.

Did the SF Giants make a mistake by not promoting pitching prospect Mason Black?

Many fans and pundits assumed SF Giants prospect Mason Black would be the starting pitcher for Wednesday's game until it was reported that Daulton Jefferies would follow relief pitcher Erik Miller.

Instead, Black pitched at Triple-A going four innings, giving up no runs, while striking out four batters. His impressive performance brought Black's season ERA to 1.01. The Jefferies experiment is a confounding combination of an astonishing lack of awareness and blind faith. It made no sense in April and it still makes no sense in May.

Jefferies got the appearance at the big league level instead of Black due to the 40-man roster. Black does not reside on the 40-man roster while Jefferies maintains a spot. That is an easy solution with a Jefferies release, allowing Black to take his roster spot.

That begs the question, what do the Giants see in Jefferies that they don't see in Black? The answer could be found in Spring Training.

Black struggled mightily in Spring Training pitching to a 6.97 ERA across 10.1 innings pitched while Jefferies managed a 2.57 ERA across 14 innings pitched. That's a stark difference but the value the Giants are placing in this season's Spring Training ignores the obvious facts staring them in the face: Jefferies is not a major league pitcher.

Before 2024, Jefferies had 56.1 innings pitched all with the Oakland Athletics. His career ERA sat at 5.75 ERA with a 15 percent strikeout rate and an FIP of 4.64.

Meanwhile, Black has yet to have a full-season ERA above 3.94, his lowest strikeout rate has been 27.9 percent. The projection systems have Black pitching to a maximum of 4.31 ERA and a minimum of 3.83 ERA. Meanwhile, Jefferies projects a minimum of 4.03 ERA and a maximum of 4.85 ERA. Only one projection system expects Jefferies to produce below a 4.32 ERA.

Ignoring the obvious career numbers before this season, the fact that the Giants turned back to Jefferies after his initial outing in San Diego is so baffling. The righty pitcher started the game on March 31st and immediately surrendered nine runs, including five earned, in just two innings where he only struck out one batter and gave up two home runs.

Any other team would have released him and put that 40-man roster spot to better use on an MLB-ready prospect. Instead, the Giants placed more value on preventing the possibility of losing a pitcher who has never shown the ability to pitch at the major league level.

As the Giants move forward this season and attempt to compete in a stacked National League, it is more than possible that we look back on the March 31st and May 1st games as obvious missteps in a season where obvious missteps might be the difference between making the playoffs and not.