Cory Gearrin, he of the snarling grimace and heavy sinker, is coming back soon.
Gearrin will pitch one more for Sacramento, likely tomorrow. Said he feels great physically.— Alex Pavlovic (@AlexPavlovic) August 15, 2016
The Giants aren’t going to pull a dominant bullpen out of their top hat, but they can supplement what they have with depth. Gearrin was having a solid season before a meltdown outing against the Rockies that was followed by a trip to the DL with shoulder discomfort, and I feel comfortable ignoring meltdown outings that are immediately followed by DL stints.
That written, what in the heck are the Giants going to do to make room for him?
The current 25-man roster doesn’t feature an easy way to make room. The 13-man staff already limits the bench, so even if the Giants wanted to designate one of the three non-catchers (Gregor Blanco, Conor Gillaspie, Ehire Adrianza) for assignment, which they don’t, that would leave them with just two reasonable pinch-hitting options every game. It’s hard enough to navigate a 13-man pitching staff.
But when you look at the relievers, there isn’t a fit there, either. Javier Lopez, Sergio Romo, and Santiago Casilla have had their struggles, but it would be the most un-Giantsy move possible to remove any of them from the roster and officially part ways. Will Smith and Hunter Strickland are obvious assets. George Kontos is out of options, and he’s allowed four runs in his last 31 appearances. Derek Law has options, but he’s also the best reliever on the team, give or take.
That would leave Jake Peavy as the player most likely to get hit with the DFA stick, but while he doesn’t have the seniority that Romo/Casilla/Lopez have, it’s still pretty hard to imagine the Giants ditching him and shaking the clubhouse up just to get a different arm in the very back of the bullpen.
The only explanation, then, would be that there’s a pitcher who has been healthy enough to avoid the DL, but dinged up enough to go on the DL and recuperate. Teams don’t make up phantom injuries, mostly because they don’t have to. If there’s a pitcher who doesn’t have some sort of shoulder strain or elbow tenderness at this point in August, he can’t be trying hard enough. It’s just a matter of getting that pitcher to agree that rest will be more productive than pitching through the pain.
Based on recent performance, the only three pitchers for whom a respite would make sense would be Romo, Casilla, and Peavy. The only other options would be to expose a productive reliever to waivers, do the same for a position player and have a three-man bench, or cut a reliever who’s been on the roster for seven years or longer.
I’ll guess that Romo makes room, gets stronger, and comes back in two weeks. But that’s just a wild, irresponsible guess — the more I look at the roster, the less sure I am of what the Giants are going to do. Cory Gearrin is coming back, and that’s almost certainly a good thing. The problem is I have no idea what the corresponding roster move will be.