The State of the San Francisco Giants’ Rotation


This offseason has been a quiet one for Brian Sabean and the San Francisco Giants. The biggest news to hit the foggy city has been the players that haven’t signed with the Giants (Jon Lester, Pablo Sandoval), or players that they could acquire (Ben Zobrist), rather than the players that they have added in Jake Peavy, Sergio Romo and Casey McGehee.

The NL West is bound to be much tougher in 2015, with the San Diego Padres adding some pop to their horrid offense, and the Los Angeles Dodgers making a trade per minute at the Winter Meetings. Arizona should be improved, and if Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki can stay healthy, Colorado could also become a threat. That won’t happen, so let’s count the Rockies out.

The biggest question mark for the San Francisco Giants at this point (besides who the heck will be playing left field) is what is going on with their rotation? Right now they have the bodies to fill out a full rotation, but will they be good enough to compete?

The current rotation has Madison Bumgarner at the top. No arguments here. Mad Bum led the team in wins, ERA and strikeouts in 2014, and should be primed for another fantastic season in 2015. Then things begin to get cloudy for the Giants. Some combination of Matt Cain, Peavy, Tim Hudson, Tim Lincecum and Yusmeiro Petit will fill out the rotation, with the odd-man out being the long reliever.

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I think that Cain will be much improved in 2015, after having season-ending surgery on his elbow in 2014, but that is hopeful speculation. Hudson underwent surgery this week to remove bone spurs from his right ankle, but the team believes he’ll be ready for opening day. Huddy is more of a question mark. After getting a fantastic start in 2014, he accumulated a 4.73 ERA in the second half of last season. A 39-year old Hudson, coming off of ankle surgery is a scary proposition.

Jake Peavy pitched well after being traded to San Francisco last season, going 6-4 with a 2.17 ERA. We’ll be holding out hope that he doesn’t revert back to the 1-9, 4.72 ERA that he held in Boston before the trade. That leaves Petit and Lincecum. Petit thrived in the long relief role last season, holding a 1.84 ERA in 27 games out of the bullpen. As a starter, he struggled, posting a 5.03. Lincecum had the better ERA as a starter last year, with a 4.67, but his WHIP came in at 1.41, which is pretty high. Bumgarner’s was a 1.09.

Outside of Mad Bum, there are a lot of question marks in the Giants’ rotation. First, let’s give Lincecum a starting job. Why on Earth would I do that? Well, it’s likely to be his final season in the orange and black, and maybe he can build some value for himself by the trade deadline, and net the Giants a couple of prospects. At that point, Petit could slide right in to the rotation, and the Giants wouldn’t lose much, in theory.

There is always the trade market, but, quite frankly, I don’t think the Giants have the talent in the minors to acquire a Cole Hamels-type without including Andrew Susac or Joe Panik, which I definitely wouldn’t do.

The best course of action could be to wait. Next offseason, there are a slew of starting pitchers that will hit the market, including Jordan Zimmerman, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, David Price and Doug Fister. All of these pitchers are number one or two starters on any team. Yes, they will be quite expensive, but with the money the Giants aren’t spending this offseason, luring one of these players to the city by the bay is entirely possible.

Sure, the Giants could add a starter this offseason in a myriad of ways, but that would defeat the purpose of even year magic. As for the Giants’ chances in 2015, we’ll just have to wait and see how the season plays out.