Andrew Susac to Begin Rehab Assignment Amid Giants’ Struggles


At this point, the San Francisco Giants can use any help they can possibly get, and that help might be coming soon in the form of backup catcher Andrew Susac who is set to begin rehab assignments on Tuesday with Triple-A Sacramento. Susac was placed on the DL after spraining his right thumb while sliding into third base on July 18, and the backup catching duties fell to Hector Sanchez who is batting a measly .167 with a .184 OBP and 5 RBIs in 23 games played this season.

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While Susac is not the kind of player that will be able to turn the Giants’ fortunes around single-handedly, he was just starting to get into the swing of things before his injury. The most recent series against the Cubs highlighted the streakiness of the Giants’ offense, and how little depth they have off the bench.

With Joe Panik on the DL, Angel Pagan struggling with a nagging knee injury, and Nori Aoki being hit in the head by a pitch, the team could use the addition of some healthy, dynamic players. It is unlikely that the Giants will be able to make any impact trades before the waiver trade deadline on August 31st, after having already given up their top pitching prospect Keury Mella as part of a package for starter Mike Leake (who is now also on the DL with a strained hamstring), so now the challenge becomes working with what they have.

Susac had been batting .241 with a .309 OBP and 11 RBIs before going onto the DL, and perhaps more importantly, had allowed Buster Posey interludes at first base as a break from the demanding nature of the catcher position. Posey is batting .320 this season when starting behind the dish with a .374 OBP. Those numbers have increased to a .363 average and .429 OBP with five home runs when he starts at first base. With Brandon Belt able to play decently (.212 AVG/.257 OBP/ .212 SLG) in left field, the Giants have been able to keep all their starters in place during games when Susac is catching.

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Susac’s versatility as a right-handed bat off the bench and as an offensively gifted backup make him indispensable during the Giants’ push towards another Orange October. If the Giants were to pursue a player, or players, before the waiver deadline, they would most likely be pitchers or outfielders (if Aoki turns out to have been seriously injured). On the other hand, they could simply call up Jarrett Parker or Ryan Lollis from Triple-A and focus on improving the bullpen or starting rotation instead. Having depth at catcher allows them to focus on other areas of necessity, and though Susac does have room to improve in his catching mechanics and the way he calls a game, his offense could be crucial in a pennant chase.

June 26, 2015; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants catcher Andrew Susac (34) rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run off of Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Chad Bettis (35) during the fifth inning at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

In 17 games last September and October, Susac was hitting .268 with a .333 OBP and seven RBI. Those are not overwhelming numbers, but those hits could make all the difference coming down the stretch. In addition, he was batting .385 in 15 plate appearances with runners in scoring position and two outs last season, and .333 during tie games.

These kinds of clutch numbers seem to be exactly what the Giants need right now after the team went 6-34 with runners in scoring position and left a combined 26 men on base during their most recent series with the Cubs, which resulted in a four-game sweep.

Though Susac is not a run-scoring juggernaut, he may be just what the doctor ordered for a team that looks like a shell of itself and has been letting games get away from them at an alarmingly rapid pace. The Giants currently sit three games behind the Cubs in the Wild Card chase and 3.5 games behind the Dodgers for the NL West lead, and unless something changes, those gaps could widen very quickly. The addition of Susac to the lineup might be able to provide a little offense and a lot of hope to a team that badly needs both.

Next: It's Time for the Giants to Move Pagan