One month ago, while mired in the seemingly never-ending MLB lockout, we here at Around the Foghorn took a look at how we expected the SF Giants rotation to shape up in the 2022 season.
Armed with the new information, let's take another crack at the possible way the Giants will run out their starting pitchers for 2022:
OPENING DAY: WEBB OR RODON?
After Kevin Gausman signed with the Toronto Blue Jays prior the owner-initiated lockout, it appeared all-but certain Logan Webb would open as the Giants #1 starter and pitch Opening Day. Now, with Carlos Rodon added to the mix, Gabe Kapler could go either way with his decision of the pitcher he trots out to the mound in front of a possible sellout at Oracle Park on April 8.
Does he go with Rodon, the veteran big-money signing who finished fifth in American League Cy Young voting in 2021 with a 2.37 ERA? Or homegrown/Rocklin-native Webb, who had a worse ERA than Rodon at 3.03 but made more starts - and, notably, was handed the ball for Game 1 of the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers?
Our money says it will be Webb, mainly due to the familiarity factor with less than a month of Spring Training for Rodon to acclimate to his new team, as well as the excitement of the crowd seeing one of their top returning players throwing the first pitch coming off of the National League West championship last season. Rodon, assuming he's healthy, will slot in well as the #2 starter to create a formidable 1-2 punch with Webb.
THE MIDDLE: DESCLAFANI AND WOOD
Anthony DeSclafani, coming off a 31-start season and handed a three-year, $36 million contract to return to the rotation at 3rd and King, should settle in as the #3 starter. Alex Wood, who received two years and $25 million to remain a Giant, should be able to go at #4, though the previous prediction stands - if Wood looks better than DeSclafani in this shortened Spring Training, he could well take the #3 job.
ROUNDING IT OUT: COBB
As more of an unknown to the coaching staff and coming off a season where he made only 18 starts, Alex Cobb serves as the primary choice for the fifth starter role.
Things get a little dicey at our #4/#5 spots, with injuries and stamina issues real possibilities (frankly, could affect the top of the rotation as well). So there's a chance the Giants will need spot starters/swingmen aplenty in 2022. The signing of Jakob Junis to a Major-League deal puts him as the most likely #6, though if Carlos Martinez flashes his former All-Star self he could be in line to take a 1-5 job at the first sign of injury/ineffectiveness.
The Giants also have plenty of players at the top of system or minor league free agent signings who have shown talent that the pitching development staff might be able to work into something special.
Tyler Beede (the 2014 first-round pick who is healthy now after Tommy John surgery eliminated all of 2020 and most of 2021) is favored by some analysts to potentially breakout along the lines of Webb last year, while Sammy Long was impressive in limited outings in the big leagues last year. Sean Hjelle, the 6'11" righty, pitched in Double-A and Triple-A in 2021 and should make his MLB debut this year.
The MiLB contract group, after Martinez, will see pitchers like Raynel Espinal and Luis Ortiz get a chance to improve and see time.
There's also time left in Spring Training, and probably options on Farhan Zaidi's plate to add more hurlers as some prove ineffective and others (hopefully not, but there's always a chance) suffer injuries that delay or impede their seasons.