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Casey Schmitt optioned; Anthony DeSclafani probably out for season

Ineffectiveness and injuries are a part of every Baseball season.

Arizona Diamondbacks v San Francisco Giants Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The San Francisco Giants have finally optioned Casey Schmitt back to Triple-A Sacramento in a move that is probably a couple of weeks overdue. Were it not for the injuries, it might’ve happened sooner.

We sure did have fun with the small sample of three games, didn’t we, folks?

Ah! Well. Nevertheless...

Schmitt ended his first month as a major leaguer (22 games in May) with a .325/.329/.470 line (85 PA). Since June 2nd, he’s been the nega-Wilmer Flores, hitting .120/.212/.162 in 133 plate appearances (46 games). Defensively, Statcast wasn’t in love with his middle infield work, grading him out as a -4 Outs Above Average (-3 at shortstop and -1 at second base).

He had negative utility.

Still, there were positive things for both fans and the team to consider in terms of his future. It took him until his 18th game to draw his first walk and 18 after that to draw his second, but he drew 8 more after that across 32 games (83 PA) against 22 strikeouts. No, his .099/.207/.127 with a .140 BAbip and -0.719 Win Probability Added over those final 83 plate appearances weren’t good — nowhere close — but his strike zone judgment did improve (2.75 K:BB from 14.5). The batted ball data from Statcast (87 mph average exit velocity, 14.2 degree average launch angle, 32.2% Hard Hit rate) shows a guy who has some ability and maybe some stick-to-it-iveness will help him in the long run.

And that’s the other thing: the team liked him. They’re going to give him some things to work on back in the minor leagues and hopefully he can take it to heart and do what needs to be done so that we see him in September. He got on our radar by matching history made by short-lived Giants. The arc of most professionals is similar to that group than the Brandon Crawford’s of the world. There’s no reason to write him off or anything drastic like that, it’s just important to note that this was the likeliest outcome for a guy with just 65 games above A-ball before his callup.

The moves gives the Giants the chance to take a look at their second-biggest trade deadline move: infielder Mark Mathias, called up as Schmitt’s replacement. When the trade went down, I noted:

They had to do something to improve on Casey Schmitt and in Mathias they’ve found that improvement, at least on paper. Mathias’s Statcast numbers aren’t inspiring, particularly in the middle infield (-4 Outs Above Average with the Pirates this season), but he does have experience at second, short, and third, and he has decent sprint speed — for instance, he’s faster than Paul DeJong, a guy I thought the Giants could be looking at.

In those seven MiLB seasons, he hit .267/.364/.412 (.776) and 265 walks against 452 strikeouts: 1.70 K/BB — what Farhan Zaidi calls “the cool zone.” In 68 major league games across three seasons (2020, 2022, 2023), he’s hit .249/.323/.402 (725) with a 100 OPS+ — exactly league average!

Meanwhile, the Giants announced yesterday that Anthony DeSclafani will receive a Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injection in his pitching elbow and won’t be able to throw for 6-8 weeks. The season ends in about seven weeks, so, it seems highly unlikely that he will be able to pitch for them again this season.

Now, the playoffs? I suppose anything’s possible there, but given DeSclafani’s track record, I am not so certain that “no hiccups + lower end of the rehab range” is a good bet. In all likelihood, the Disco stops in 2023.

There’s a part of me that wants to put the blame of this on Ross Stripling and Sean Manaea p*ss*ng, sh*tt*ng, and puking on themselves right out of the gate putting immediate and incredible strain on the pitching staff. After throwing just 19 innings last season due to an ankle injury caused by the mutant gene, he pitched 67.1 innings — 6.1 innings per start — through the first 11 games of the season. He also dropped a piano bench on his toe which complicated his pitching situation for the season.

Now, if Stripling and/or Manaea had been more effective as starters, could they have throttled back a bit on DeSclafani’s usage? Possibly. On the other hand, pitchers get hurt all the time, and DeSclafani has a history of injury, so this isn’t a total surprise.

But it is a huge disappointment for a team hoping to make a deep, long postseason run. Webb and Cobb and pray for The Blob is not a great strategy; however, with Stripling seemingly righting his ship and Manaea being effective as a reliever combined with Tristan Beck being a dominant fireman in the 1970s/1980s sense, there’s certainly plenty of talent on the roster to work around the mess and in a short series, DeSclafani’s absence can be mitigated pretty well.

It’s just getting to the postseason without one more reliable starter or innings eater that seems concerning. Most of the fan criticism surrounding DeSclafani seems to revolve around two things:

  • Being unpitchable against the Dodgers in 2021
  • Being hurt in 2022

Those are fine reasons to groan when you see a guy in a pitching matchup, but don’t ignore all the utility he provided around both of these points. He was great in 2021 and he was a tremendous help to the team through a rocky April as they righted the ship in May.

He’s under contract for one more season and if nothing else, shutting him down now for the rest of the season sets him up to be a tremendous help again next season.