Hey, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but everyone in the Giants rotation not named Jeff or Madison hasn’t been very good lately. If this team was supposed to have a strength heading into the season, it was the pitching depth. While that’s been apparent out of the bullpen, Tyler Beede and the carousel of Conner Menez, Shaun Anderson, and Dereck Rodríguez have made it especially difficult for the Giants to win games in the last few weeks.
Each of these four are having disappointing seasons overall, but they’ve especially struggled lately. Just today, Tyler Beede gave up four runs in four innings, and every inning he was verging on disaster. Menez only lasted 1 2/3 innings his last time out. Shaun Anderson has been slowly slipping for a while now, and in his last start before going on the IL he gave up four runs in three innings. In Dereck Rodríguez’s last spot start opportunity, he gave up seven runs in three innings.
They’ve been particularly bad recently, but when we look at what they’ve done on the season, it doesn’t get much rosier.
Back of the Rotation
Combined, they have a 5.51 ERA and a 129 ERA- and that kind of production from over half of the rotation is untenable. Johnny Cueto is set to come back in September, but that’s still over two weeks away.
The collective wilting still leaves the Giants with a lot of questions about how to proceed in the immediate future. The Giants didn’t announce that Dereck Rodríguez will start Thursday’s game until Wednesday’s game was finished, and there’s no starter announced for Saturday.
With Menez being optioned and Anderson being ineligible to return until Sunday, the Giants will have to get creative to figure out who to bring in. A phantom IL stint could bring Menez back before the usual 10-day requirement. Andrew Suárez only faced one batter on Wednesday, and he’s been more effective in his last couple outings.
Logan Webb has been brought up as an option though he’s only made one start in Triple-A. He sure looked impressive in his Sacramento debut, but then again, Tyler Beede had a sub-2.00 ERA before getting called up.
Even if Webb is brought up and he’s effective, and Cueto comes back better than ever, that still leaves the Giants with one spot to fill. If the Giants are to hang around in the Wild Card race (or even play enjoyable baseball) they’ll need at least one or preferably two of their present options to step up.
The clearest candidate for a turnaround is Beede. Of the four, he has the most impressive tools. His fastball boasts mid-90s velocity and above-average spin. His curveball, slider, and changeup all sport whiff rates of 38 percent or greater. Even though he’s only walked 4.6 percent of batters he’s faced since July 1 (1.76 per nine innings), he still struggles with command.
We’ve seen Shaun Anderson be effective this year, and maybe it was just the blisters that had derailed his season. Anderson also possesses a high-spin fastball as well as an above average slider, but that hasn’t translated into swing and miss stuff. It’s difficult to prescribe what he should change because it looks like he’s already tried the two most obvious things: throw the sinker less and the slider more.
On July 17, Anderson threw just 1.4 percent sinkers, his lowest percentage of the season. He supplanted those with four seamers and sliders. It just happened to be the worst start of the season until that point. The Rockies tagged him for five runs in 4 1/3 innings. On July 28, he threw more sliders than fastballs.
While he struck out seven, he also gave up four runs in five innings.
Just looking at the results, it looks like Anderson should be throwing his slider more. I don’t know why he threw so many sliders that outing or why he went back to his regular approach the next time, but it looks like someone suggested something and he hasn’t fully bought in because the results weren’t immediate.
It looks like something similar happened with Rodríguez. D-Rod’s best pitch has been his curveball, but his worst has arguably been his fastball. Still, Rodríguez throws his fastball most of the time and keeps his curve under 20 percent usage. His last time out, Rodríguez threw a career-high 31.9 percent of curveballs.
Again, he gave up seven runs in three innings, and didn’t get a single swing and miss with the curve.
I remain optimistic that at least one of these guys will figure something out eventually. Pitching isn’t easy and every player is going to hit a rough patch. It just wouldn’t have been cool if they didn’t hit theirs all at once.