It would help if Jason Schmidt could apply a fake mustache or eye patch before his bad starts, so we know it's his evil twin out there. Still, Schmidt's evil twin has been showing up far less frequently since the All-Star break. That, combined with Noah Lowry's second straight season of second-half magic, helps reassure the Giants faithful about the 2006 rotation. After that, the questions come flying as if from an espresso-guzzling three-year old. Is Brad Hennessey going to harness his good stuff and translate it into good results? Is Kevin Correia going to harness his good stuff and translate it into good results? Is Brett Tomko going to harness his good stuff and translate it into good results? Is Kirk Rueter going to harness whatever he possibly has to harness? Emotions? A wild mustang? He could probably find something to harness if he looked hard enough, even if he isn't on the team, and is already being used for cheap, nostalgic jokes.
Tomko is most likely not going to be here next year, especially after the curious bullpen experiment he was subjected to in mid-summer. Correia shows flashes of brilliance, flashes of wildness, and flashes of an almost supernatural ability to allow homeruns. Hennessey doesn't seem to have the pure stuff of Correia, but the previous sentence applies almost equally as well. There are free agents to consider, but no guarantees the Giants can get anything more than a 4th starter for 2nd starter money. Matt Cain will be exciting to watch, but expectations should be placed somewhere between "struggling rookie" and "key cog in the rotation".
This has been covered before, you might be thinking. Well, you're getting awfully snotty, but there is a little bit of a twist. Somewhere in the bowels of a thread, someone, and I apologize for forgetting exactly who already, floated the idea of putting Tyler Walker back into rotation. I'm on board.
With the Giants paying the Gross National Product of Mozambique to LaTroy Hawkins and Armando Benitez, there is at least a little hope the front-end of the bullpen is settled. Having the impressive, quasi-reliable arm of Tyler Walker backing that duo up would be somewhat reassuring. However, the Giants biggest need is going to be in the rotation. Walker was a starter until last year, posting fairly decent numbers as he ascended through the Mets system. It almost makes too much sense....
Now it would be lazy to write Walker looks like a strong kid, and could handle the transition back to the rotation. Yes, he looks strong enough to juggle Buick Skylarks, possibly as effortless as Johnny Carson did, but the inner workings of any pitcher's arm is a mystery. There is always going to be a risk taken when switching the roles of a pitcher. What is now a 93-95 mph fastball, devastating slider, and workable change could turn into a pile of mush with the extra workload. Russ Ortiz once had that crisp mid-90s fastball as a minor-league closer, and Shawn Estes wasn't always Rueter with a curveball and less control.
The risks are there, but the rewards are great. If Tyler Walker could give the Giants 190 innings of league-average pitching he'd effectively replace Tomko, and there is always the potential for more success when an arm is as live as Walker's. Walker's biggest problem right now, as it is for every Giants pitcher from now until the fabric of time is ripped and the universe ends, is location. He can be wild, and he can deliver fastballs down the middle when trying for a corner. That sentence can go on the back of the baseball card of almost every Giants pitcher. However, there is a reason Walker was a highly touted starting pitcher prospect, and fairly recently at that.
A lot depends on how the free agent market shakes out, and if Brian Sabean decides to fill the gaps with trades. Still, the Walker as starter idea should at least be considered if Benitez comes back full strength. I'm glad I thought of it by myself, with no help.