SF Giants: What does the rotation look like behind Johnny Cueto?

SF Giants (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SF Giants (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

The SF Giants named Johnny Cueto their Opening Day starter, but what about the rest of the rotation?

The SF Giants are just days away from the start of their 2020 season when they take on the Los Angeles Dodgers this coming Thursday, July 23rd. And we know who will be called on to start that game.

In no surprise to anyone, right-hander Johnny Cueto was named the Opening Day starter earlier last week and will be tasked with leading the Giants when they take the field for the first time this year at Dodger Stadium.

But while Cueto’s status as the Giants’ ace was never in question, the rest of the rotation behind him remains uncertain.

While we know a few names that will be a part of the starting rotation, what will be the order in which they are deployed? And who will manage to secure the elusive fifth spot in the rotation?

Cueto is going to start on Thursday, and if you were putting money on who will start the following day, your best bet would probably be veteran righty Jeff Samardzija.

Samardzija started 32 games for the Giants last season and finished with a very respectable 3.52 ERA striking out 140 batters in 181.1 innings. In a pitching staff featuring plenty of turnover, Samardzija will be one of the few holdovers.

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Behind Cueto and Samardzija, the likes of Kevin Gausman and Drew Smyly will both be in the starting rotation as well, but it remains to be seen in what order they will be deployed.

Gausman is expected to start Monday’s exhibition game against the Oakland Athletics which means he’s likely a solid candidate to start on Saturday with Smyly finishing the four-game series on Sunday.

That’s just an assumption, however, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see Smyly pitch on Saturday and Gausman close the series on Sunday.

Both Gausman and Smyly will enter the 2020 season coming off very difficult campaigns in 2019. The Giants will be betting on at least one of them bouncing back in a big way after disappointing with their former teams a year ago.

Who will be the SF Giants’ fifth starter this season?

As for who will be the fifth starter, that remains anyone’s guess.

The Giants won’t technically need a fifth starter until August 1st given the off day they have on July 27th, but as of now, it does seem as though Logan Webb has the inside track to the job.

Webb struggled in eight starts last season pitching to a 5.22 ERA, but the 23-year-old righty looked like a completely different pitcher back in the spring.

If not Webb, guys like Tyler Anderson and Dereck Rodriguez could push for an opportunity as well. Trevor Cahill looked like a possibility but a fingernail issue will likely keep him off the Opening Day roster.

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The Giants will be relying on a lot of unknowns in their starting rotation this season. But if a few things go their way, there’s no reason the Giants can’t have a respectable pitching staff in 2020.