The SF Giants lineup is set to receive a boost soon enough. 30-year-old outfielder Austin Slater has been sent to Triple-A for a rehab assignment and is nearing a return after sustaining a hamstring strain during a game against the Washington Nationals earlier this month.
SF Giants outfielder set to begin rehab assignment with Sacramento
Slater has dealt with injuries quite a bit this year. The good news is that none of them have resulted in an extended absence. He dealt with an elbow ailment in spring training and then sustained a hamstring strain prior to the start of the season. He reinjured that same hamstring after just eight games.
When he has been healthy, the right-handed bat was one of the more productive hitters in the Giants lineup. He registered a .368/.455/.421 line (144 OPS+) with two RBI and three runs in 22 plate appearances.
The Giants have performed well against right-handed pitching as they have tallied a .755 OPS in those matchups this season. However, they have struggled badly against left-handed pitching, posting a .685 OPS, which is the seventh-worst mark in baseball.
The Giants hoped that a lineup featuring J.D. Davis, Mitch Haniger, and Slater would perform better against lefties. However, Davis has oddly struggled in those matchups, Haniger has gotten off to a slow start, and Slater has spent much of the year on the injured list.
There is still plenty of time to turn it around and the return of Slater should help quite a bit. He has performed well in those matchups, slashing .291/.381/.473 with an 11.0 percent walk rate against a 21.4 percent strikeout rate across seven seasons.
Plus, Slater is one of the more versatile outfielders on the roster with considerable experience at all three outfield positions. The Giants are thin on center field depth with Mike Yastrzemski handling most of the starting duties, but with Brett Wisely and Bryce Johnson as backups.
Slater will help to balance that out as he will usually be in the lineup at center field and batting leadoff against left-handed pitchers. He recorded one hit in three at-bats in his first rehab game on Saturday night.
Despite dealing with injuries for much of the season, the Giants are off to a nice start with a 27-25 record.