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The Giants are probably set with the rotation, and that’s fine.

The starting pitching would have been a lot more impressive with better defense and health.

San Diego Padres v San Francisco Giants Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

It’s worth remembering that when the 2017 season started 600 years ago, a lot of Giants fans were optimistic. Even after the second-half collapse of 2016, there was still a feeling that this year’s team was going to be a strong contender. It all started with the starting pitching. Madison Bumgarner finished fourth in the Cy Young voting; Johnny Cueto finished sixth. It was one of the greatest head starts to a rotation in baseball.

Then there were dirt bikes and blisters and tendons and awful luck and ... whatever happened to Matt Moore. The strength became a weakness, and that means when you read something like this from John Shea, who reports the Giants are content with the status quo in the rotation, it might upset you.

The Giants believe their starters, mostly veterans, will return to their norm.

That seems awfully optimistic. The Giants’ starters combined for a 4.58 ERA, which wouldn’t have been pretty if they played half their games in a neutral park. Considering they played in AT&T Park, it was extremely disappointing.

Assuming Shohei Ohtani doesn’t have a huge fog fetish, the Giants probably aren’t upgrading their rotation. But I don’t have a problem with it. You shouldn’t have a problem with it. Here’s why:

The Giants have bigger problems

There’s the obvious one. If I had to rank the Giants’ priorities this offseason, it would go something like this:

  1. Get some outfielders who can catch
  2. Figure out how to score more runs
  3. Get some outfielders who can catch
  4. Figure out how to score more runs
  5. Get some outfielders who can catch
  6. Figure out how to score more runs
  7. The rotation?
  8. Get some outfielders who can catch
  9. Figure out how to score more runs
  10. The bullpen, I guess

The Giants will need to figure out how to catch the ball better. Denard Span’s defense in center was brutal all year — if you’ve watched the postseason, you can see the difference with every freaking team, including the Astros and George Springer, who’s probably average. He looks like Andruw Jones to me, though.

They’ll need to hit, too. They don’t have to hit 200 homers to win, but a few more line drives would help. As long as we’re talking Astros, I count at least 10 players who would hit third or fourth for the Giants. That’s not hyperbole. There is, uh, room for improvement, then.

The starting pitching market isn’t that robust

Do you want the Giants to pay $125 million to Jake Arrieta? You do not. It would be exciting at first, but it would get real stressful, real quick. What about a smaller contract to Jason Vargas? Or a huge contract to Masahiro Tanaka, his splitter, and his dicey elbow ligament?

None of it makes a lot of sense, especially compared to the in-house options. Give me Matt Moore (no, really) over Matt Garza or someone. Heck, give me Moore and his reasonable price over Alex Cobb, who is a fine pitcher, but will get a ton of money. He’s not without his risks. All of them are risky. They’re pitchers, dammit. Sometimes they fall of dirt bikes, literally and metaphorically.

The Giants could always trade, but that would mean they’re using their scarce resources on improvements that don’t have to do with the biggest problems on the team (see the first section). I could see the Giants trading for Billy Hamilton. I could see them trading for Aaron Hicks. Heck, I could even see them trading for Yoenis Cespedes, considering how interested the Mets are in saving money.

I have a much harder time seeing them trade for Jordan Zimmermann, or something. If they had prospects coming out of their ears, sure, but that’s painfully not the case.

They don’t have a bushel of excellent starting pitching prospects ... but they have at least a gaggle of fifth-starter types with potential

Chris Stratton was a surprising revelation at the end of the year, showing off one of the prettier curveballs we’ve seen in a long time. A longer look next April and May would fill a couple different needs.

Tyler Beede isn’t going to be a Cy Young winner, but he’s still a capable prospect with an underrated ceiling. If he turns into Jhoulys Chacin, that has more value than you might think. He could be even better, though.

Go down the list, from Andrew Suarez to Joan Gregorio to Ty Blach, and there’s a mix of low ceilings and low floors, as well as some higher ceilings. The Giants won’t be hosed if Matt Moore really is broken because they have a reasonable number of contingency plans. The best part is that none of them cost $50 million or more.

I’m not saying that the Giants will get even one major league quality starter out of Stratton, Beede, Suarez, Gregorio, or Blach. But I understand why they would try that instead of spending scores of millions on Lance Lynn.

I mean, Yu Darvish would be kind of badass.


If this happens, watch Jeff Samardzija’s ERA shrink. Heck, even Moore’s FIP was nearly a run lower than his ERA. Start there, and the rotation improves.

Then, you know, some more runs would be nice. But I don’t want to tell the Giants how to do their job.

In a perfect world, it would be swell if the Giants could get J.D. Martinez and Kevin Pillar and Yu Darvish. In practice, though, I would put Darvish down on the priority list, mostly because either of the first two would help a lot more. If the Giants want their own Darvish, they’ll have to get one from the Cy Young candidates they thought they had before the ... unpleasantness this season. Considering the track record of both Cueto and Bumgarner, which is generally excellent, it’s not an unreasonable strategy.

And maybe Shohei Otani really, really likes Vertigo, and he’s dreamt of living in San Francisco since he was a child. Here’s hoping.