© Ron Chenoy | June 6, 2023
With Alex Wood and Ross Stripling both currently on the injured list, the Giants have three traditional starters in their rotation.
Sean Manaea, who was moved to the bullpen earlier in the year due to poor performance, has made numerous appearances for relief. The Giants have resorted to multiple bullpen games and have two games next weekend with a starter listed as a TBA.
Speaking regularly at Tolbert & Copes, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said “we have the resources” to help the team when needed.
“Obviously Webb and Cobb did a great job for us at the head of the rotation,” Zaidi said. “DeSclafani was solid. He’s had a few crooked numbers for us lately, but we love the fact that he’s coming in and throwing strikes. The way we play defensively with his skills, we assume he will continue throwing the ball well. But yeah, with Wood and Stripling in the IL, fourth and fifth were more up in the air. Manaea really acts as a starter. He gave us four or five innings every time he got up there. We started opening for him to take the pressure off a bit. Sometimes guys actually get into the swing of things better and are better able to work their way into a game after an opening game. And that’s one of those things that you can’t fix unless it’s broken.”
Since moving to the bullpen, Manaea has a 2.93 ERA in 15.1 innings in five games. He made three consecutive goalless appearances before conceding four earned runs at Coors Field on Wednesday night.
“Maybe we’ll keep him in that role, maybe we’ll bring him back into the starting XI,” said Zaidi. “Then to your point: Kyle Harrison, Tristan Beck – who’s just on the pitching team and did a good job for us – Sean Hjelle and Keaton Winn also in Sacramento. So we have other options if Alex Wood and Ross Stripling need a little more time to come back.”
The biggest name Zaidi mentions in this series is Harrison. The top left-handed pitcher in baseball currently has a 3.55 ERA in 12 starts at triple-A. Of all the River Cats’ pitchers, he’s the longest pitcher measured by pitch count, but he still hasn’t pitched in the fifth inning.
Zaidi has said in the past that Harrison needs to demonstrate better attacking zone proficiency before being considered. This season, Harrison has rushed 34 batters in 38 innings while struggling with a tighter zone imposed by the automated ball and strike system.
Still a strikeout machine at 15.6K/9, Harrison is working on a new slider that he can place in the zone more often.
“We’d definitely like someone like Kyle Harrison to come up and grab one of those spots and throw more front of the rotation than middle or back,” Zaidi said. “But we just have to see how he starts. There are many reasons to be optimistic, but we still think he needs to work on a few things.”
Aside from the pitching team, the Giants are as healthy as they have been all season. With a full batting order, San Francisco secured a three-game win over the Rockies at Coors Field.
But with clean health, the Giants have the good problem of a full roster. Catcher Joey Bart, who is serving rehab at Sacramento, may not have a clear path to returning to the Giants roster if everyone stays healthy. Neither does Luis Matos, the midfielder destroyed the triple-A pitch.
Matos bats .375 and has 11 multi-hit games in 19 games with the River Cats. When asked about the Giants’ intentions for the Aug. 1 close, Zaidi mentioned Matos — not as a trade chip, but as a piece the Giants may need to clear to make room.
“We’re at a point now where we really want the engine of this team to come from our own house,” concluded Zaidi. “Luis Matos is playing really well in Triple-A. We really don’t have room for him at the moment. If he keeps producing, maybe we’ll try to create one. We have a pretty strong team and a strong squad.”
Listen to the full interview above. You can listen to any KNBR interview on our podcasts page at knbr.com/podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Catch Tolbert & Copes weekdays from 2pm to 6pm on KNBR 104.5/680 and live stream on KNBR.com.