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Giants pick their team for Opening Day

A slough of injuries has forced the Giants to rely on the computer to generate some players to fill out the roster.

MLB: San Francisco Giants-Media Day
He’s real, and he’s spectacular(ly on the roster)
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

A lot of last minute changes to health of their pitches and a precarious standing with the competitive balance tax has necessitated the Giants make do with the players they have on hand to form their 25-man roster ahead of Thursday’s season opener in Los Angeles.

It’s hard to get too critical about most of the decisions because the past is the past, and there’s nothing can be done about past drafts or decisions now 18ish hours away from first pitch. So, let’s take a look at the roster by category:

No surprise

Buster Posey
Andrew McCutchen
Brandon Belt
Evan Longoria
Hunter Pence
Brandon Crawford
Joe Panik
Austin Jackson
Nick Hundley
Gregor Blanco
Johnny Cueto
Ty Blach
Hunter Strickland
Cory Gearrin
Tony Watson
Mark Melancon

I’m including Gregor Blanco on this list because I think the Giants had always hoped he’d be able to take the invite and make the most of his opportunity. He was hampered by injuries at the end of his last stint with the Giants, and while he did run into the same troubles last year in Arizona, he still had a nice bounce back performance. He’s a solid veteran presence with speed and a little bit of on base ability and will be an able reserve in the near-term.

Plus, he’s Gregor Blanco.

Sure, whatever

Kelby Tomlinson
Sam Dyson
Chris Stratton
Derek Holland

Tomlinson beat out Josh Rutledge for the utility infielder spot, and it felt all Spring Training like it was his spot to lose. He hasn’t looked spectacular, he’s looked mostly solid. Rutledge has looked solid, too, but the Giants know Kelby better, which likely gave him the edge. It really is all about who you know.

Dyson’s spot seemed shaky there at the end of Spring Training and the Giants might’ve been able to free up some funds to make an emergency move for a starter with the savings gained from cutting him, but that did not happen, so, all we can do is remember that that was once a possibility.

Not “OH WOW WHAT?” surprising, but “Oh ok” surprising

Gorkys Hernandez
Pablo Sandoval
Josh Osich

Gorkys Hernandez can defend and the Giants don’t care if he sees regular playing time, so, it makes sense that they’d keep him on the roster over Steven Duggar. It’s still a tiny bit of a surprise to me, however, because I just can’t believe that Gorkys Hernandez has managed to hang around for so long. He hasn’t homered since September 13, 2016, which makes him the second-most likely player to hit a home run off of Clayton Kershaw on Thursday (#1 is, of course, Ty Blach).

Baseball was done with Pablo Sandoval as recently as eight and a half months ago but now he’s here on a real baseball team’s Opening Day roster. He looked like a shell of his former self from 2015 until, like, last month. It’s been a surprising turnaround, but also because the Giants are a loyal organization and he didn’t embarrass himself this spring, it’s not that surprising.

Josh Osich went back to his old delivery and apparently that made all the difference. Which... is funny! Baseball is funny in that way! Josh Osich pitched 43.1 innings of Steve Okert-ball last season, but he didn’t give up a run the entire Spring Training and managed to keep his pitches in the strike zone when he needed them to. It’s the entire theme of this category: it’s not surprising the Giants decided to keep guys like Osich, it’s that guys like Osich managed to perform to a level where they wouldn’t be cut.

Scrambling to consult the nearest internet to do enough research to pretend you know a lot about the guy when talking to your fans or readers of your website

Roberto Gomez
Pierce Johnson

Baseball Reference alleges that Roberto Gomez pitched 5.1 innings for the Giants last season, which I legitimately do not remember. But Grant was paying attention and scouted him last September. He’s tall (6-5 by most sources, though B-R has him listed at 6-6) and throws 94-96 mph, but there’s a catch! That fastball is really easy to hit. Via Minor League Scouting:

Fastball Velo: 94-98, 96 avg.Movement: 4SM Flat and straight, plays down due to lack of movement. Use: Needs to elevate, but struggles to do so. Pulls many FB into the bottom of the zone and often fails to reach the glove side of the zone with regularity. Struggles to put away batters w/ high velo. Straight velocity at the bottom of the zone is a present-day flyball entree to batters. Repeatedly gave up hard contact.

The Giants need warm bodies and some added velocity in the back of the bullpen. For the moment, a player like Gomez fits the bill. If he winds up pitching more than 7 innings this month, however, then you know the season is imploding.

Pierce Johnson was in the first round of cuts this spring! But then he pitched so well that the Giants took another look and thought, (extremely Patton Oswalt high-pitched voice) “Ehhhh, maybe he’s pretty good?”

He might be the long-man in the bullpen now that Julian Fernandez will be starting the season on the disabled list.

The Giants have come a long way since Friday afternoon.