San Francisco Giants’ Starting Pitching Depth Gives Them Flexibility


There have been many concerns surrounding the San Francisco Giants‘ starting pitching staff heading into the 2015 season. Many have questioned the ability of the Giants’ rotation to stay healthy but also their ability to be effective, as many of the starting pitchers, except Madison Bumgarner, are closer to the end of their careers than the prime of their careers.

Despite these concerns, the Giants have an excellent amount of depth, in terms of starting pitching. They currently have seven starting pitchers on the roster, which is quite impressive and gives the Giants many options.

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For example, if one of the Giants starters were to become injured (knock on wood), then there are two long relievers in the bullpen, Ryan Vogelsong and Yusmeiro Petit, who are more than capable of starting.

In addition, if one starter begins to mightily struggle, the Giants have the option of putting in Vogelsong or Petit to relieve them early in a game or potentially replace them in the lineup.

For example, Tim Lincecum‘s spot in the starting rotation is far from locked up. He is the Giants’ fifth starter heading into 2015, but the pressure is on him to keep that spot in the rotation. If he starts to falter, Bruce Bochy could easily replace him with Vogelsong or Petit.

The depth and the abundance of options for the Giants could certainly come in handy given the fact that three out of the five starters have dealt with health issues or are recovering from surgery this spring. Jake Peavy spoke with Alex Pavlovic of Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area on this topic:

"“Boch and Rags and Gardy are going to use those guys,” he said of Vogelsong and Petit. “Having those two guys, let’s say we get into the second half and have some guys a little banged up, or you may need to miss a start or two … (you’re) able to throw a Ryan Vogelsong and say, ‘Hey Vogey is going to make a start or Petey will make that start to give you an extra day.’ You don’t have to go on the DL, and you’re really not pitching a man short because you still have another long guy you can stretch out down there.“There are tons of options. That depth and experience we do have creates some opportunities. You’ll keep guys fresh.”…“My mindset and everybody else’s mindset will be to carry the load on that day,” Peavy said. “That being said, we all understand we have some guys coming off surgery, some guys with some innings on their arms in the past few years. I think (the depth) could play a major part in keeping us fresh and trying to get in (the postseason) down the stretch and making a run.“I’ve never been on a team with this makeup. You try to sit around and think about how it could work.”"

Pavlovic also included a quote from Bochy in the same article with Peavy’s quotes. Bochy spoke about how the Giants will be able to rest some of their starters, as needed, with both Vogelsong and Petit in the bullpen:

"Bochy said he hasn’t talked to his starters about how it will work. He doesn’t have to.“They know we have a couple of starters that can help out if they need a break,” Bochy said. “If something is nagging them or they’ve got a cranky arm, we’ll give them a break.”"

The Giants certainly have a lot of flexibility in terms of dealing with injuries and which starter they can use on a given day. Despite this flexibility though, the pressure is still on for some of these aging starters to be effective collectively. Peavy, Tim Hudson, Lincecum, and Vogelsong all struggled at certain points last season. In addition, Cain was only able to start 15 games last season.

If one starter struggles, then, yes, Bochy could plug in Vogelsong or Petit, as needed. However, if those two start to struggle too or multiple starters start to struggle or become injured, then the Giants’ starting pitching depth could potentially become more of a problem than an asset.

Injuries are impossible to predict, and hopefully for the Giants, Bochy’s plan of slowly easing each starter into a regular pitching routine in Spring Training will keep the starters fresh and make them more effective in the regular season. In addition, as previously mentioned, Bochy will always have the option to rest a starter, even if the pitcher hasn’t suffered a serious injury.

Do you see the Giants’ starting pitching depth as an asset? Let us know in the comments section below.

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