The SF Giants received some tough news on Monday as right-handed hurler Anthony DeSclafani was transferred to the 60-day injured list as he continues to recover from right ankle inflammation. The absence, however, should present an opportunity to give an extended look to another veteran pitcher.
SF Giants should give veteran hurler an extended look
Jakob Junis has made a positive first impression with the Giants. The right-handed hurler has slotted into the rotation seamlessly with DeSclafani on the shelf.
Given that DeSclafani has been transferred to the 60-day injured list, the earliest that he is eligible to return is in the last week of June. This means that Junis should continue to see time in the rotation.
The Giants have other starting options on the 40-man roster including Sean Hjelle and Randy Rodriguez, but Junis is the most established of the three. On a different note, Matthew Boyd should be inching toward a rehab assignment after undergoing flexor tendon surgery in the offseason.
this is all to say that Junis will get an extended look in the rotation. The Giants originally signed the 29-year-old pitcher to a one-year, $1.75 million contract in March. Part of Junis' appeal is that he had a minor league option remaining, so his addition brought extra roster flexibility.
In the early going, that as proved to be a nice addition. The six-year veteran has registered a 1.74 ERA, 3.34 FIP, 0.98 WHIP, 7.8 K/9, and a 4.50 SO/W ratio across four appearances, including two starts.
With the Royals, Junis struggled to the tune of a 4.82 ERA as he struggled to keep the ball in the park as well as with finding an optimal pitch mix. Since joining the Giants, Junis has increased his slider usage to 56.3 percent while nearly getting rid of the four-seam fastball from his repertoire.
The slider has typically been a strong pitch in his arsenal as opposing hitters recorded just a .190 batting average against it last season. On the other hand, the four-seam fastball was far less effective with opposing hitters posting a .296 batting average against it. In essence, Junis has increased the usage of his best weapon while reducing the usage of a pitch that was not nearly as effective.
With these changes, the righty has induced a groundball in 47.4 percent of batted ball events, which is a career-high. Of course, the Giants like that he is a strike-thrower, allowing just 1.7 BB/9 through 20.2 innings in 2022.
These are encouraging trends for a pitcher who was not highly-coveted in the offseason. He has been effective so far and should continue to see more starts in DeSclafani's absence.