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A suspension halted Gregory Santos, but the future is bright

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It was a rough 2021 for Gregory Santos, but 2022 looks to be a good year.

Salt River Rafters v Scottsdale Scorpions Photo by Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images

We’re nearing the end of our 2021 San Francisco Giants reviews. The next player is right-handed pitcher Gregory Santos.

2021 review

3 games, 2 innings, 5 hits, 3 home runs, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts, 22.50 ERA, 22.67 FIP, -0.7 rWAR, -0.5 fWAR

This isn’t exactly the sort of memorable performance you want to be making, but I can’t remember seeing a player provide so much negative WAR in just two innings. Santos finished 491st out of 497 National League pitchers in fWAR (the WAR that graded him more kindly, it should be noted), with all the pitchers behind him throwing at least 18 innings.

I also can’t remember the last time a Giants pitcher finished with more home runs allowed than innings pitched, though I’m sure if I bothered to do the research I’d find it’s more common than I think.

Either way, the point I’m making is pretty clear: Santos was awful in his extremely limited sample in 2021, his debut MLB season (it’s worth noting that his actual debut, however, was great: a perfect inning with a pair of strikeouts. It was the other two outings that were disastrous.).

He was also 21 at the time of his appearances. He was up at least a year, if not two early — we should read nothing into his ugly outings, other than that the Giants trusted him in high-leverage situations. The future was still very bright for Santos when he was optioned after his third game.

And then came the suspension.

In late June, in the midst of an admittedly not-great AAA season, Santos tested positive for Stanozolol, which resulted in an 80-game suspension, ending his season at the Minor or Major League level. He wouldn’t pitch again (competitively, that is), until the Arizona Fall League.

And so that was Santos’ season: ugly Minor League numbers, extremely ugly Major League numbers, an MLB debut, a very long suspension, and a lot of time spent on the shelf. He’s still an ultra-talented arm and just 22 years old though — a largely lost season doesn’t dim his shine too much.

Role in 2022

Barring a breakout, it’s safe to assume Santos will spend most of 2022 in Sacramento, rather than San Francisco. But given that the Giants called him up early and thrust him into high-leverage situations, it seems they’re high enough on his talent that we should expect to see him a few times in the upcoming season.

Farhan Zaidi has mentioned that Santos could be stretched out as a starter, a role he played through the 2019 season. I’m a tiny bit skeptical, but we’ll see. You could see Santos starting a game for the 2022 Giants, closing a game for the 2022 Giants, or pitching in long relief. Who knows.

Grade: No