Happy Monday, San Francisco Giants fans.
Many fans have grown tired of the Giants patchwork starting rotation, which for the last few months has featured two true starting pitchers and a bunch of artistic reenactments of someone solving a Sudoku in real time but using pitchers instead of numbers. The Giants opened the year with six players who had been quality starters in the very recent future, plus numerous intriguing options in AAA ... no one anticipated that come late August, Ryan Walker (who didn’t make his MLB debut until mid-May) would have as many starts as Alex Wood and Ross Stripling, or that John Brebbia (who has been injured for the last two-and-a-half months) and Scott Alexander would have more starts than Sean Manaea.
But here we are.
President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has repeatedly stressed that the Giants want to have a traditional rotation, but there’s “let’s put five pitchers in traditional roles and see what happens” and there’s “why don’t we just build the whole plane out of Logan Webbs,” and the Giants are decidedly in the latter category.
The Giants do want to have a traditional rotation with traditional starters going a traditional amount of innings. They just don’t want to do that if Wood and Stripling and Manaea and Jakob Junis and Keaton Winn and Tristan Beck and Anthony DeSclafani are the available options.
But now things are trending in a different direction, perhaps because players are forcing the issue or perhaps because the bullpen games are starting to stall out a little. The truth is usually somewhere in the middle.
Sunday’s much-needed win over Atlanta brought about something fairly unexpected: the first MLB start for Beck, long developed as a starting pitcher. Beck’s run numbers — he gave up three earned in 4.1 innings — will raise his ERA, but it only takes one eyeball that’s juuuust better than legally blind to see that his actual performance was freaking awesome.
Facing a historically great offense — an offense that, as a team, has a better OPS than Buster Posey had in his career, and has averaged 6.5 runs per game in August — Beck was perfect through four innings. Things unraveled in the fifth inning, with a walk (that should have been called strike three), three hits (one of which had an expected batting average of .150), and an inherited runner that scored when the ball was handed to Alexander.
Seen through that lens, Beck gave up less than a baserunner per inning and was only done in by sequencing ... sequencing that occurred as he was being stretched out to 70 pitches, which was just the second time in the last two months that he threw 50 or more pitches, and his highest pitch count at any level since his MLB debut on April 20.
That, to my eyes, is worthy of a few more starts, and the opportunity to get stretched out. Thankfully, Gabe Kapler seems to agree.
Gabe Kapler says Tristan Beck "has the tools” to join the Giants’ rotation pic.twitter.com/pnrIQf9Ict— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) August 28, 2023
Tonight another rookie starts, as Kyle Harrison takes an MLB mound for the second time in his career. Harrison still needs to be stretched out, but it’s no secret that the Giants view him as a starter — a top-level one, at that. If his performance allows him to pitch deep into games, he will.
That’s an “if” for both young players, but the opportunity seems to be there. If the next few weeks go well, the Giants could suddenly find themselves with a rotation that has four starting pitchers. Hey ... that’s almost the normal amount.
What time do the Giants play today?
The Giants start a three-game series with the Cincinnati Reds tonight at 6:45 p.m. PT. It’s Harrison’s home debut!