The SF Giants will be without veteran hurler Alex Cobb (hip sugrery) for the first part of the 2024 season. The latest setback crystallizes the team's need for frontline starting pitcher this winter as they have very little predictability outside of Logan Webb.
Latest SF Giants injury highlights team's need for starting pitching
With Cobb out, the Giants will have to leverage their younger pitchers, which is not a bad position in at all. Kyle Harrison, Keaton Winn, and Tristan Beck all showed promising flashes last season. In the case of Winn and Beck, it was frustrating that neither pitcher received an extended look in the rotation. Their performance warranted it, but it never truly came to fruition.
Nevertheless, both looked solid despite the lack of a definitive role. Beck posted a 3.92 ERA in 85 innings compared to a 4.68 ERA in 42.1 innings from Winn. On the other hand, Harrison registered a 4.15 ERA in seven outings. He showed that good things happen when he can throw his fastball-slider combo for strikes. In his final outing of the season, the 22-year-old prospect completed five no-hit innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Giants will need to rely on some veterans as well like Anthony DeSclafani and Ross Stripling. Sean Manaea has an opt-out that he can exercise following the conclusion of the World Series. He has not tipped his hand as to what he plans to do, but it seems possible, if not likely, that he hits free agency again this winter.
The Giants could-resign him as he probably could be brought back on another two-year, $25 million deal similar to the one he signed last offseason. The veteran pitcher might be in line for more guaranteed money, but it will be hard for him to surpass the $12.5-million average annual value of his current deal.
Whether he decides to remain with the club or not should not affect the Giants' offseason plans. They need more starting pitching and Cobb's injury reinforces that fact. They are fine on pitching depth. The Giants should be able to rely on a mixture of their younger starters and veteran options to serve as depth.
What they need is another frontline starter. Not to bridge the gap until Cobb returns, but to give the Giants a formidable trio. If they have any plans of making the playoffs next year, they will need more than two reliable starters.
Adding a frontline starter helps to hedge their bets against injury or underperformance with their top two options. Of course, the Giants have been connected to star NPB pitcher Yoshiobu Yamamoto so far.
With manager Bob Melvin in place, there will be speculation as to whether someone like Blake Snell would be a fit as well. Of course, Melvin has familiarity with Seth Lugo and Sonny Gray as well. Both will be comfortably below the contract demands for Yamamoto and Snell, but make sense on paper as solid mid-rotation options. You could make the case that Gray is a step above that.
One of the Giants' top priorities was adding a reliable starting pitcher this winter. Cobb's injury has not changed the equation much, but it highlights why the starting rotation is definitely a need to address.