The SF Giants welcomed back Alex Wood on Friday. He missed the last three weeks after sustaining a hamstring strain while fielding a bunt in a game against the Miami Marlins on April 18. Hard-throwing reliever Cole Waites was optioned in a corresponding roster move according to the team's transaction log.
SF Giants activate Alex Wood, send down hard-throwing reliever
Overall, the Giants' starting rotation has been more good than bad. Anthony DeSclafani, Alex Cobb, and Logan Webb are all off to a nice start in 2023. In fact, Cobb leads the National League
among qualified starters with a 1.70 ERA.
On the other hand, Sean Manaea and Ross Stripling have struggled mightily. Stripling will likely continue to get more chances for now, but Manaea has dug himself in a hole. The left-handed pitcher has been plagued by the long ball as well as unusually poor command.
San Francisco has not committed to Wood returning to the rotation, but that seems like the best fit. Prior to hitting the injured list, Wood registered a 1.80 ERA, 3.51 FIP, 1.40 WHIP, 9.9 K/9, and a 1.83 SO/W ratio in three outings.
The high strikeout numbers were encouraging, but the subpar command was likely a result of a small sample. Wood has demonstrated sharp command while being an effective arm throughout his 11-year career.
However, his return does muddy the bullpen situation for now. He joins a bullpen that leans too heavily on bulk innings relievers with a mix that includes Jakob Junis and Tristan Beck. The leverage relievers are at risk of being overused as a result.
Even if Wood moves back to the rotation, it likely means that one of Manaea or Stripling shift into a different role, which does not change the overall composition. That will fix itslef in time.
Cole Waites was optioned in a corresponding roster move. The 24-year-old yielded four earned runs on two strikeouts and two walks in 2.1 frames. It did seem like a roster move was imminent as Waites was unable to close out Thursday night's game despite entering the inning with a 6-0 advantage. Of course, the Giants did eventually close out the game thanks to Camilo Doval, but the coaching staff was hoping to give him the night off.
Waites flashes a good four-seam fastball with above-average spin that he pairs with a slider. However, poor command has become an issue as he has faced off against more advanced competition. He has no problem getting hitters to swing and miss, but struggles to consistently hit the strike zone, leading to too many non-competitive pitches. He is young, but will need to see improvement in that area before his arsenal can be used in the majors.